Was Muhammad Ali Treated Fairly When Refusing Induction?

By Ken Hissner - 01/09/2024 - Comments

When I was serving in the US Army from 1965 to 1967, I watched on TV when world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali refused to enter the same US Army I was serving.

His refusal reasoning was something like, “I have no problem with those Viet Cong!” Neither did I, and I hoped I would not be sent to Vietnam while serving at Ft. Jackson, SC, typing training schedules.

Also, many Americans treated the ones coming back from Vietnam poorly by spitting on them and calling them “baby killers!”

I’ve also noticed anytime one serving in a war zone usually do not come back quite the same mentally for reasons like seeing their fellow soldiers being killed. Or living in fear for their own lives.

When, in 1967, the New York Boxing Commission and the WBA decided to take Ali’s license away, I didn’t think it was right then or right now.

At the time, Ali had just stopped world contender Zora Folley, 74-7-4, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, defending his WBA and WBC titles.

Today, I wonder if the WBC would have continued recognizing him, and being they were out of Mexico, he could even fight there, but he may not have been allowed to fight out of the USA or do prison time. He was 29-0 after the Folley fight.

After having his license given back, Ali had been off for over three years and had been making a living for one thing, going around college campuses speaking. He had no financial support from the Islamic groups who were managing him at the time either.

Upon fighting again with the state of Georgia licensing Ali, his first right was in Atlanta against contender Jerry Quarry, 37-4-4, whom he stopped in three rounds in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ali followed up with a lopsided decision over Argentina’s Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, 46-6-1, at Madison Square Garden. This set the stage for a fight to regain his title against “Smokin” Joe Frazier, 28-0 at the Garden.

Behind on points going into the final round, knowing he needed a stoppage, Ali went on the offense and got dropped by Frazier.

The shame of it is Ali would never be the same skilled boxer, especially on defense he once was, and eventually inventing his “rope-a-dope” defense, leading to taking more blows than ever.

Ali would regain his title not once but three times in his career. There hasn’t been anyone like him since or before. No one was more colorful than him in or out of the ring. He was great for boxing. I could have bought my third Muhammad Ali shirt at WalMart recently, but it was XXX in size.

Ali would fight Frazier two more times, defeating him on both occasions. The same went for Ken Norton, defeating him twice after losing to him.

Ali was 29-0 when he lost his license and went 27-5 after returning to the ring, finishing at 56-5. I felt no need to cover the rest of his career with so much known about it by most readers. Let’s say it was “short but sweet” before and upon his return.

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