Why did Muhammad Ali refuse the Vietnam War Draft?
Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time was much more than just an athlete. Ali during his time stood up for his principles, fought against white supremacy, took a stand for black people’s rights, and was alone against a whole system.
In the 1960s, the USA was at war with Vietnam in order to prevent the rise of communism in the country. By the end of the 60s, over half a million US troops were deployed in Vietnam. In the year 1966, Ali was drafted into the US army to fight in the Vietnam war but the legendary boxer refused to do so. Years later, the fighter appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, where he opened up his views the same.
He said: “Why should I worry about going to little old jail to free my poor people who have been catching hell here for 400 years? It’s kind of hard to put a black man or any black person in this country in jail because if you ask the average one, we’re already in jail you know, we’ve been in jail four hundred years”
When asked about the reason for his ‘bitterness’ towards white people, Ali showed his annoyance about their unethical ideologies. “Whatever white people do as far as evil as far as mistreatment it’s just the nature of the white race to be this way if we check history. It’s just human nature to kill…this system is built on war,” said Ali.
Ali was always vocal about white atrocities and stood up for what he believed in. However, this move by the boxer cost him important years of his career.
Muhammad Ali faced repercussions for refusing to fight in the Vietnam war
When the legendary boxer didn’t accept the US military draft, the fighter was found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his heavyweight title. He was also on the verge of serving jail time. Following this, Ali was even ridiculed by the media
Even during the court case, Muhammad was true to his ideals and didn’t break in front of the US judiciary system. In 1971, the supreme court overturned Ali’s conviction and he didn’t serve any jail time. The Court incorporated and ruled that “moral and ethical objection to war was as valid as a religious objection,” thus they accepted Ali’s plea.
The court case cost Ali to miss out on four years of his professional boxing career in his prime. However, Ali did come back strong from the setback and won the NABF heavyweight title in 1971. After three years and some great performances, Ali fought George Foreman and Won WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles. Later the fighter defended his titles for 10 consecutive fights. In 1981, Ali retired from boxing and ended his professional career with a fantastic record of 56-5.