The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Directed by Bill Siegel (2013)
Although I’ve watched several documentaries about the life of Muhammad Ali, I was previously unaware that the Supreme Court overturned his conviction for violating the Selective Services Act (for refusing to fight in Vietnam) – nor of the highly unusual circumstances under which they did so.
In 1966, world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison. Although he remained out on bail during his five-year appeal, the felony conviction caused boxing commissions in most states to suspend his license to box. During this period, he supported himself and his family through paid speaking engagements.
Ali claimed conscientious objector status as a Black Muslim (contrary to popular belief, most interpretations of Islam are nonviolent). Giving up his slave name Cassius Clay, he joined the Nation of Islam in 1961. He…