On this day in sports history, June 20th, 1967, Muhammad Ali was convicted of refusing to be enlisted by Selective Services of the United States.
“The Greatest” was known for his bouts in the ring, but will remain a legend in the eyes of many for his political actions. Ali claimed going to war with the Vietnamese was against his religious and political views. He maintained the viewpoint that being a Muslim minister should exempt him from being drafted, thus, he declined to take the Army induction oath.
After his refusal, the WBA (World Boxing Association) downright stripped “The Greatest” of his title.
The prosecution claimed the Muslim order was:
“as much political as it is religious.”
An honest Ali responded with:
“If I can say so, sir, my religion is not political in no way.”
He was originally sentenced to five years in prison for resisting but remained a free man while he awaited the appeal. Eventually, courts ruled that he met “conscientious objecter status”. Another words, he was pardoned due to his religious beliefs, his objection to any kind of war, and his sincerity on the matter.
Muhammad Ali was standing up for more than himself, he was standing up for minorities in the United States and others around the world. To fathom changing the US is one thing, but changing the world is another. Ali inspired people everywhere and that makes him a true World Champion.
Other honorable mentions for this day in sports history:
- (1982) Pete Rose played in his 3,000th game, making him the fifth player to do so.
- (1982) Tom Watson wins the US Open over Jack Nicklaus.
- (1993) The Chicago Bulls win they’re third straight championship in Game Six of the NBA Finals over the Phoenix Suns.
The Learning Network (2011, June 20). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/june-20-1967-muhammad-ali-convicted/
Waldron, M. (1967). Clay guilty in draft case; gets five years in prison. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0620.html