Muhammad Ali and his refusal to enter the United States draft in 1966 has become part of the boxing icon’s folklore. After a 1967 conviction, Ali endured nearly four years of inactivity before the United States Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1971.
The case, “Clay v. United States,” upheld his conscientious objector status which supported his religious and personal reasons for not joining America in the Vietnam War. Ali filed for the status in Louisville in 1966, but the draft board denied his application.
Ali initially failed a series of entry exams which made him ineligible but those standards were lowered. Ali’s famous quip, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” and his rising status in the Black nationalist group The Nation of Islam added to the sensationalism of his case. Ali legally relocated to Houston, Texas to apply for status as a Muslim minister, which…
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