Herbert Muhammad, son to Nation of Islam’s Elijah Muhammad, dies

Herbert Muhammad, who became famous as the long-time boxing manager of Muhammad Ali, died Monday in Chicago following heart surgery. He was 79. Muhammad was the third son of Elijah Muhammad.

Herbert Muhammad, who became famous as the long-time boxing manager of Muhammad Ali, died Monday in Chicago following heart surgery. He was 79.

Muhammad was the third son of Elijah Muhammad. Born Elijah Poole, he became a Muslim and later the leader of the Nation of Islam for several decades.

Herbert Muhammad was the Nation of Islam’s chief business manager, according to a family statement, establishing and managing a successful bakery, restaurant, dry cleaning and other enterprises.

In addition, he established and oversaw operations of the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, at the peak of its influence, dispatching correspondents to Africa, Europe and other points overseas, and building the weekly’s circulation to nearly one million copies.

According to one version of the tumultuous days in the mid-1960s surrounding the heavyweight champion, it was Elijah Muhammad who renamed the fighter, who was born Cassius Clay.

Herbert Muhammad officially became Ali’s manager in 1966 when the fighter’s contract with a consortium of Louisville, Ky., businessmen expired but had established control well before that date.

He went on to promote several million-dollar purses for Ali’s bouts and stayed on as a spiritual adviser well after the former heavyweight champion’s last bout in 1981.

The business relationship became increasingly strained by the 1990s as Ali and his fourth wife, Lonnie, began to assert more direct control over his affairs.

A Muslim prayer service will be held today at 11:00 a.m. on the grounds of Masjid al-Faatir, 1200 E. 47th Street, followed by interment.

A community-wide memorial service will be held on Saturday for which details will soon be announced.

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