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Muhammad Ali born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. Nicknamed ‘The Greatest’, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest sporting figures of the 20th century and the only three-time lineal heavyweight boxing champion.
Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston in a technical knockout on February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach, Florida, to win the world heavyweight boxing crown at the age of 22. On October 30, 1977, Muhammad Ali beat the undefeated heavyweight champion George Foreman by knockout before the end of the 8th round (2:58) at The Rumble in the Jungle held at the 20th of May Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire. On September 15, 1978, in New Orleans, Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks by 15th round Unanimous Decision for the WBA and Lineal Heavyweight Championships.
Muhammad Ali’s biggest fights of his career would be outside the boxing ring; his bold stance against the war in Viet Nam.
On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali, then 25 years old, appeared in Houston for his scheduled induction into the U.S. military. He refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army on the grounds of being a conscientious objector. His refusal led to his arrest. On May 9, 1967, Muhammad Ali was indicted by a federal grand jury for refusing to submit to induction into the armed forces of the United States.
On June 20, 1967, Muhammad Ali was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment for refusing to serve in the military. He was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for draft evasion. Muhammad Ali’s lawyers appealed the court’s decision. While in appeal, Muhammad Ali’s historic fight for his beliefs would cost him nearly 4 years of his boxing career (his prime years).
Muhammad Ali was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title while his boxing license suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission. The World Boxing Association stripped him of his world heavyweight title which led to him being banned from boxing in the United States. He was even denied a visa to fight overseas.
Muhammad Ali would ultimately win the biggest victory of his career; Muhammad Ali vs. the United States. His case, (Clay v. the United States, 403 U.S. 698), would make its way to the Supreme Court where on June 28, 1971, his conviction was overturned in a unanimous 8-0 decision. The Supreme Court stated that the government failed to specify why his conscientious objector application had been denied. In the end, Muhammad Ali’s fight against the draft wasn’t just a victory for freedom it was the fight that shook up the world!