Muhammad Ali’s forgotten land in Bangladesh
June 06 2016 01:52 AM
This file photo shows Muhammad Ali and his wife Veronica Porsche Ali at a banquet hosted by the Cox’s Bazar local administration in their honour in 1978.

By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka

A plot of land at Kolatoli in Bangladesh’s southeastern tourist city of Cox’s Bazar, which was apparently promised as a present to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali during his February 1978 visit, was never registered in his name.
A part of the land has already slipped into the river and the rest lies forgotten and uncared for.
The Cox’s Bazar district administration is not even aware of the history associated with the plot.
However, Mohammad Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar, said yesterday that he was not aware of any such promise made about the land.
The legendary boxer and his wife Veronica Porsche Ali had come to Bangladesh on a five-day visit at the invitation of then president Ziaur Rahman. They had visited the most scenic areas of Bangladesh, including the Sundarbans, Sylhet tea gardens, Rangamati, and Cox’s Bazar.
During a public reception organised by the Cox’s Bazar sub-divisional administration, a local political figure, Akhter Newaz Khan Babul, had declared that the plot was a gift from him to the boxing legend. Babul had addressed the programme as a leader of the former Chhatra League, student front of the then Awami League.
“I gifted a piece of plot to Muhammad Ali from out of my land. I had given him a letter of interest in gifting him the plot. He had also given me a letter of consent that he had received it,” Babul said yesterday.
“Muhammad Ali had committed to come to Bangladesh every year. He had said he would build a house on the land and stay there for two months every year. But that never happened,” rued Babul.
“Ali wanted to work for Bangladesh, but we could not use it to our advantage,” he added.
“The plot of land is now lying insecure and some parts have been swallowed by the river. But I’m still ready to register it for any of Ali’s successors,” said Babul.
Ali was given honourary Bangladeshi citizenship with a passport.

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