Muhammad Ali and the Ontario Human Rights Code
On March 29, 2021, the day of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) 60th anniversary, the Toronto Star ran an in-depth, multi-page photo feature story on the 55th anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s famous Toronto boxing match. This incredibly popular article, called “How Muhammad Ali’s iconic Canadian debut brought Ontario’s human rights code into focus
,” showcased Ali, his civil rights activism and Canada’s first human rights statute, our very own Ontario Human Rights Code (Code)
In March 1966, Ali arrived in Toronto for his historic match against Toronto boxer George Chuvalo at Maple Leaf Gardens. In the days leading up to this legendary fight, Ali gave a rousing and remarkable interview about his motivation for changing his name. Ali emphasized that “Clay was not my name. We want to be called after names of our people, names that fit us Black people and Clay was a White man’s name, it was a slave name, and I am no longer a slave.” A prominent symbol displayed in that interview
was the Ontario Human Rights Code
, which served as the backdrop to Ali declaring his right to assert his identity as a free Black man.
Check out our annual reports from the past that help to tell the story of how the OHRC and Ontario’s Human Rights Code have evolved over the past six decades.
Looking back, moving forward (2010–2011) details many of the key historical moments in the evolution of the OHRC, and includes the thoughts and vision of many of the human rights pioneers in Ontario.
Human Rights: The next generation (2011–2012) charts the history of the Code, and offers an interesting look to the future.
Watch for more archival information, which will be added regularly over the coming months.