Trump mulls posthumously pardoning Muhammad Ali

President reckons the legendary pugilist was ‘unfairly’ convicted in 1967 for refusing military service in Vietnam.

June 09, 2018 11:39 am | Updated 04:35 pm IST - WASHINGTON

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali

United States President Donald Trump said he was considering posthumously pardoning late boxer Muhammad Ali, who was convicted in 1967 after refusing military service in Vietnam.

“I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” Mr. Trump said on Friday while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada.

Mr. Trump said the legendary boxer was just one of the 3,000 names he’s considering pardoning, because “many of those names really have been treated unfairly.”

No contact with Ali’s family

Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweel, told CNN later on Friday that there was no contact whatsoever between anyone in the Trump administration and members of the Ali family about the issue.

“So, it’s not like for weeks or days the administration has reached out to the Ali family. None of that,” Mr. Tweel told CNN.

“This was all spontaneous and I think, as a lot of people like to say, impulsive.”

In an earlier statement, Mr. Tweel said that although he appreciated Mr. Trump’s sentiment, a “pardon is unnecessary.”

“The US Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed,” he said.

In June 1967, Ali was convicted in a federal court for violating selective service laws refusing the Vietnam War draft.

He was stripped of his World Boxing Association heavyweight title, his passport and all his boxing licenses. He was fined $10,000 and faced a five-year sentence in prison.

SC overturned conviction in 1971

The Supreme Court unanimously overturned his violation conviction in a unanimous ruling on June 28, 1971, and after anti-war sentiments grew, a judge ruled in 1970 that Ali could box professionally again.

Ali died in 2016 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Since being in office, Mr. Trump has granted five pardons and commuted one sentence.

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