If They Shook Hands... Muhammad Ali & Margaret Thatcher Eun Kyung Lee & Han Baik Kim FUSH Characters: Muhammad Ali: Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer who was the Heavyweight Champion of the World three times between 1964 and 1979. He was born in January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. He changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. In 1967, three years after Ali had won the World Heavyweight Championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Then, he was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges. He was stripped of his boxing title and his boxing license was suspended. His nickname was “The Greatest”. Margaret Thatcher: Margaret Hilda Thatcher is a British politician and longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century, and the only woman to have held the post. Dubbed the “Iron Lady” for her firm opposition to the Soviet Union, she implemented a number of conservative policies that have come to be known as Thatcherism. In 1975, Thatcher defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition, as well as the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. She became prime minister after winning the 1979 general election. Setting: The setting of this play is in present time. Muhammad Ali makes a comeback match and he is just about to win. Margaret Thatcher is watching the game in the crowds. Muhammad Ali has just made a comeback in the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After his win, Ali is interviewed by Joe Rogan, the famous UFC commentator. The crowd gets extremely excited and the atmosphere becomes extraordinarily wild... Act 1 Muhammad Ali makes a comeback match on UFC and wins. Commentator asks about his feelings after he won the match. Joe Rogan Muhammad Ali, you have made an epic comeback tonight and you have proven to all of us your class. You are an incredible warrior! Do you have anything that you want to say right now? Muhammad Ali I feel great and I just want to thank everyone at the gym for helping me train. Right now, I feel like I’m on top of the world and that no one can stop me. I am still the greatest and I just want to say that Islam, my religion, has helped me a lot and it would help anyone out there who needs it. I wanted to show the people who criticized me about not joining the army that I am tougher than they are. Again, no Vietcong had called me a Negro. So everyone, stand up for what you believe in and don’t be forced to do things you don’t want to! Joe Rogan Wow. That’s a lot of things off your chest right now. On a side note, Margaret Thatcher’s family had come to watch your fight. She is sitting right ther... Wow! She is looking at you right now - no, glaring at you right now - with a face of disgust. I simply wonder why! Do you want to bring her on to the ring? Muhammad Ali Sure. Margaret Thatcher walks into ring. Joe Rogan The ring is no place for politics or anything like that but what do you have to say to Muhammad Ali? Don’t try to bore us all ma’am! Margaret Thatcher Thank you. I only came here because my son is a fan of yours, Mr. Ali. Like you Mr. Ali, I’m not afraid of speaking out for my beliefs. I will say what I want and where I want to. So Mr. Ali, I just want to say that you should be more proud of your country. Containing communism, at the time you ditched the draft and abandoned the US army, was an utmost priority. You failed to live up to the responsibility of a United States citizen. You should be ashamed. Muhammad Ali Well.. you.. Muhammad Ali mumbles. Joe Rogan Anyways, congratulations Ali! Now, if you two can please, the fight outside... Moving on to the next match! Joe Rogan hastily finishes the interview in order to avoid conflict and to revamp the atmosphere. Act 2 The setting changes to a silent room where Muhammad Ali and Margaret Thatcher are sitting on the sofa staring each other. Muhammad Ali So... thank you for coming to watch my game anyway. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m sorry but I’m not entirely familiar with who you are though. Please, before we have this formal talk, help me understand you better. Margaret Thatcher Of course Mr. Ali. First of, I would like to say that I did sincerely enjoy your game. Secondly, after working as a chemist, I became the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the late 1970s to the 1990s.1 Muhammad Ali Yes, of course. I am actually pretty familiar with your political background - I just needed a quick reminder. I remember that you were very economically conservative and you blamed the weakened economy at the time on previous socialist policies. You even have your own “-ism”: Thatcherism! I can also recall the fact that you resigned in 1990, when critics felt that your policies didn’t help much either. Margaret Thatcher Yes, Mr. Ali. You know me very well. I was also famous for my opposition to integration of Europe, saving the British currency, pounds, from becoming Euros. I was succeeded by John Major and then Tony Blair, who both sought moderation between liberals and conservatives. Since you are so familiar with me, do you know what my nickname is? Muhammad Ali Nope. What is it Mrs. Thatcher? Margaret Thatcher People often call me the Iron Lady. Muhammad Ali Wow.. that’s a great nickname. There must be a hidden meaning behind the name. Margaret Thatcher Yes. Of course. I am called the Iron Lady because I am so “strong willed” that people have criticized me for being stubborn! Its not easy to have your own “-ism”, you know. Muhammad Ali He laughs There must be a reason why you are telling me this. Margaret Thatcher Yes. for sure. I believe you have a good sense in catching people’s mind. I want you to apologize to United States, your country, about the Cold War and how you poorly reacted to it. Even to this day and even after your comeback on the ring, we still remember and are disappointed about your decision to not to go to the army and fight for United States. In such a way, you should apologize to your own nation before it is too late! Seeing that you still not only possess a great influence in the martial arts field but also garnered respect from numerous individuals, I believe you should set an example for the masses. Muhammad Ali Wait, wait, wait! Mrs. Thatcher, why do you even care about what I did in the 1960’s anyways? On top of that, you’re British! You’re not even American! Margaret Thatcher That is true. I am not American. You, however, should know that the United Kingdom and the United States of America had a very close relationship that flourished from the World Wars and persisted through the Cold War. I, too, wanted to fight against communism. When I took office, I also sought to establish a good relationship with your state. I was friends with Ronald Reagan, a fellow conservative. In such a way, I am pretty sure that I have right to say this, Mr. Ali: you, as an American citizen, should acknowledge your previous wrong-doings and should apologize for not participating in the Vietnam War. Muhammad Ali I’m sorry, Mrs. Thatcher, but I’m offended and slightly insulted you thought that by not joining the US military I somehow made a wrong decision. Of course I had thought about not joining the military over and over again. I always think before speaking! Mrs. Thatcher, right now, you are being too aggressive! Margaret Thatcher I cannot believe you’re trying to talk your way out of your wrongdoing. You may have thought that people forgot your lack of support for the US military, but people in your country and people in my country still remember how you ducked your responsibility and duty to America! All I am asking for is an admittance and apology for being a coward then. Muhammad Ali I refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military because of my religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. There was absolutely no reason to kill innocent locals in Vietnam. No one in Vietnam would ever call me a negro. You could never understand the severe discrimination and prejudice that I endured living in America. Ali starts tearing up Margaret Thatcher Mr. Ali! I never would have guessed that a fighter like you would be so emotional. I’m sorry if I have pushed the limits too far. My son would be very upset if he knew that his hero cried because of me. Muhammad Ali Cried? Nah, I just have something in my eye - that’s all. Margaret Thatcher Oh all right Mr. Ali. I think we should wrap it up now. We had a pretty heavy discussion. How about we calm our emotions down a bit and have a relaxing afternoon tea? Muhammad Ali That sounds fantastic. After all, I am pretty exhausted after my fight. Let’s go get ourselves some tea! Works Cited 1. Ezra, Michael. Muhammad Ali: The Making of an Icon. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009. http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst? a=o&d=117303796. 2. Geelhoed, E. Bruce, and James F. Hobbs. Margaret Thatcher: In Victory and Downfall, 1987 and 1990. New York: Praeger, 1992. http:// www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=15091359. 3. Golus, Carrie. Muhammad Ali. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2006. http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=114931556. 4. Peters, F. E. Muhammad and the Origins of Islam /. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994. http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst? a=o&d=102492780. 5. Royal, Robert. "The Character of Margaret Thatcher." World and I, August 1998, 290+. http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002294414.
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