Washington, June 9: US President Donald Trump said that he was considering posthumously pardoning the 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,” Trump said on Friday while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada.
Trump said that the legendary boxer is just one of 3,000 names he’s considering pardoning, because “many of those names really have been treated unfairly”. 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,” he told CNN. “This was all spontaneous and I think, as a lot of people like to say, impulsive.”
In an earlier statement, Tweel said that although he appreciated 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 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.
The Supreme Court unanimously overturned his violation conviction in a unanimous ruling on June 28, 1971, and after anti-war sentiment 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, Trump has granted five pardons and commuted one sentence.