In what will surely infuriate his haters again, President Trump is considering using his power to pardon for the case of boxing legend and civil rights advocate, Muhammad Ali.
Ali was convicted in 1967 of draft evasion after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War based on opposition to U.S. involvement, as well as citing religious objections, and subsequently stripped of his boxing titles.
“He wasn’t very popular then, he certainly is, his memory is very popular now,” the President said prior to leaving for the G-7 summit in Canada. “I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali, I’m thinking about that very seriously.”
The decision to pardon Ali would mostly be a symbolic gesture, as his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 after a four-year legal battle.
Ali’s attorney, Ron Tweel, said as much, issuing a statement thanking the President but saying any pardon is unnecessary.
“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” he said. “The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971.”
“There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”
Don King, a boxing promoter for numerous historical matchups, and a friend of President Trump was involved with Ali in several fights. He was also sued by the boxing legend for underpaying him by over $1 million for a fight with Larry Holmes in 1982.
King was also found guilty of second-degree murder in 1967 for killing a gambling associate who owed him $600 but sentenced for a lesser charge of manslaughter in the same year Ali was convicted.
King himself was pardoned in 1983 by Ohio Governor James Rhodes.
Don King and the President have close ties that date back decades, with the former having campaigned for Trump in the summer of 2016.
“The establishment will tell their lies,” King said of Trump. “They will try to keep him down.”
“Be with the people, not the establishment,” he urged.
Muhammad Ali received the UCP’s Humanitarian Award from Donald Trump at the United Cerebral Palsy dinner on March 14, 2001.
This past May, Trump issued a full pardon to Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion. (RELATED: President Trump Pardons Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson).
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