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Trump mulling posthumous pardon for Muhammad Ali

American boxer Muhammad Ali speaking to reporters after announcing he refused military service during the Vietnam War, April 29, 1967
AFP

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump said Friday he was considering granting a posthumous pardon to late boxing great Muhammad Ali, who refused military service during the Vietnam War.

Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted of draft evasion in 1967 and sentenced to five years in prison, but the conviction was overturned on appeal by the US Supreme Court in 1971.

“I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. I’m thinking about that seriously. And some others and some folks whose have sentences that aren’t fair,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he was leaving for a G7 summit in Canada.

Trump described Ali as “not very popular” at the time of his refusal to serve in the military during the Vietnam War.

But while controversial, Ali’s resistance on grounds of conscience made him a hero of the US civil rights and anti-war movements during a highly polarized period in US history.

A charismatic champion who won his first world heavyweight title in 1964, Ali was banned from boxing for three years as a result of his conviction but went on to reclaim the championship in a stellar career that lived up to his boast of being “the Greatest.” 

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