Trump says he is considering pardon for Muhammad Ali

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President Trump said on Friday that he may pardon the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali. 

Speaking to reporters outside the White House as he prepared to leave for the Group of Seven summit in Quebec, Trump said he was thinking about pardoning someone who was “not very popular” when he was convicted.

“He was not very popular then; his memory is very popular now. I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”


Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. military in 1967 during the Vietnam War, citing religious objections. As a result, he was stripped of his heavyweight title, charged with draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.

Ali stayed out of prison as his case was appealed in the court system. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971. Ali died in 2016 at the age of 74. 

An attorney for Ali, though, said Friday that a pardon from Trump was “unnecessary.”

“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” lawyer Ron Tweel said in a statement. “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,” he added.

If Trump does pardon Ali, it would be his second act of clemency for a deceased professional boxer. The president pardoned the late boxing great Jack Johnson last month. 

Trump has already granted clemency to a number people, and told reporters on Friday that “there will be more pardons.” Just this week, he commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 65-year-old woman who had been serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.

Alice Marie Johnson’s pardon followed a lobbying effort by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who met with Trump at the White House late last month.

Asked if noncelebrities — or those without celebrity advocates — had a chance at receiving clemency, Trump acknowledged that many applicants had been “treated unfairly.”

“We have 3000 names … many of those names have been treated unfairly,” he said. “I thought Kim Kardashian was great because she brought Alice to my attention … better than any celebrity I could pardon.”

Trump was also asked on Friday if he was thinking about pardoning O.J. Simpson.

“I’m thinking about somebody that you all know very well and he went through a lot. And he wasn’t very popular then. No, I’m not thinking about O.J.,” he told reporters.

Updated at 10:18 a.m.

Tags Clemency Donald Trump Donald Trump Muhammad Ali Pardon

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