On this day in 1967, legendary boxer and self-acclaimed ‘world’s greatest’ Muhammad Ali was convicted for refusing to be drafted to the United States Army. He was found guilty of violating the Selective Service laws and sentenced to five years in prison.
Citing his stern disapproval of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War which was ongoing at that time as well as his religious beliefs, Ali refused to be inducted into the US Armed Forces to fight in the Vietnam War.
Identifying himself as a conscientious objector, Ali made the following statements on his refusal to serve:
- “War is against the teachings of the Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”
- “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
- “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
- “I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”
He had his boxing license suspended and titles stripped of him by the New York State Athletic Commission as well as other boxing commissions as a result and was unable to obtain a boxing license for well over three years.
Ali’s conviction was however overturned by the Supreme Court on June 28, 1971, after it was previously upheld by a Court of Appeal. Keep in mind that he a free man even after his sentencing.