|Ali was a champion for human rights and peace, inspiring|
millions, and infuriating white America.
The greatest boxer in the sport's history became an international champion of human rights and peace in the prime of his sports career.
Ali died on June 3, 2016 at 74.
On February 26, 1964, Ali declared his religion to be Muslim in the Nation of Islam. Much of White America criticized the man for holding to a religion held in disfavor by a nation largely composed of bigots.
"I believe in Allah and in peace. … I'm not a Christian anymore. … Followers of Allah are the sweetest people in the world. They don't tote weapons. ...," said Ali, (Louisville Courier-Journal).
In 1966, Ali said, "Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong," responding to reporters who phoned him at home in Miami. He later explains that "no Viet Cong ever called me nigger," (Louisville Courier-Journal).
On April 28, 1967, Ali refused induction into the American armed forces, then escalating the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of southeast Asia.
Days later the World Boxing Association (WBA) strips Ali of his boxing title, and all states rescind his boxing license.
"They took away his livelihood because he failed the test of political and social conformity," the late sportscaster and civil rights advocate Howard Cosell recalled. "Nobody said a damn word about the professional football players who dodged the draft, but Ali was different: He was black, and he was boastful."
American civil rights workers supported Ali.
For some four years Ali faced a five-year prison sentence, until June 28, 1971 when the United States Supreme Court overturned his conviction, finding an error of law in the administrative and judicial proceedings of Ali's status as a conscientious objector:
"The petitioner was convicted for willful refusal to submit to induction into the Armed Forces. 62 Stat. 622, as amended, 50 U. S. C. App. § 462 (a) (1964 ed., Supp. V). [*699] The judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 1 We granted [**2070] certiorari, 400 U.S. 990, to consider whether the induction notice was invalid because grounded upon an erroneous denial of the petitioner's claim to be classified as a conscientious objector, ... We feel that this error of law by the Department, to which the Appeal Board might naturally look for guidance on such questions, must vitiate the entire proceedings at least where it is not clear that the Board relied on some legitimate ground. ... where it is impossible to determine on exactly which grounds the Appeal Board decided, the integrity of the Selective Service System demands, at least, that the Government not recommend illegal grounds. There is an impressive body of lower court cases taking this position and we believe that they state the correct rule." (Clay, AKA Ali v. United States No. 783 Supreme Court of the United States 403 U.S. 698; 91 S. Ct. 2068; 29 L. Ed. 2d 810; 1971 U.S. LEXIS 21 April 19, 1971, Argued June 28, 1971, Decided (LexisNexis)) (Cornell)
Only one justice. William O. Douglas found (in a concurring opinion) that the "First Amendment freedom of religion precluded the registrant's induction, since in accordance with the Koran he believed only in religious wars against nonbelievers," (LexisNexis).
Ali fought against the opponents of social justice and peace, including the United States government, and won.