On his 18th birthday, Muhammad Ali, often referred as the “Greatest of all time,” got himself registered for conscription in the United States military and was classified as “Available for unrestricted military services” (1-A) in 1962. A couple of years later he failed in in the Armed forces test because of his writing and spelling was below par and was moved on to Class 1-Y which meant “Fit for service only in times of national emergency. Four years later, the army lowered its standards for qualifications which meant Muhammad Ali was now qualified to serve the military in times of war. During this time the United States of America was at war with Vietnam. When Ali was told about his induction into the US Army to fight the war at Vietnam, he refused his induction.
2 reasons why Muhammad Ali refused the draft:
- Ali was a strong believer of the Quran and stated that, war was against the teaching of the Holy Quran and he would take part in no war unless told by the creator himself.
- In the 1960’s, racial discrimination was at its peak as dark skinned people were treated with inferiority. Muhammad Ali also joined the radical black civil rights movement that aimed at eliminating discrimination against African-Americans and improving the quality of life. Since the Vietnamese were brown skinned he said he would not throw bombs on brown skinned Vietnamese under the rule of a white establishment when black people in the US are treated like dogs.
His refusal lead to him being stripped of his boxing heavyweight championship with a 3 year ban, a five year imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 a trial that was held on June 20, 1967, that concluded Ali as being guilty. Ali then appealed to the Supreme Court of the U.S, after which his ban was laid off in 1971. Even though Ali won the appeal, he lost 4 crucial years of his boxing career, while the States lost 50,000 soldiers in the Vietnam War.
The reason why Ali was not a draft dodger:
The term “draft dodger” was labeled by one of Muhammad Ali’s greatest opponent Joe Fraser. While some might argue about how baseball player, Ted Williams sacrificed 5 seasons fighting the Korean war, choosing to fight or now should be a matter of personal preference. Ali did not dodge the draft; instead he stated that he was ready for any legal action taken against him.
“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”