Muhammad Ali is now considered by many to be the greatest boxer that’s ever lived, but his career was interrupted by his courageous personal stance.
On this day in 1967, Ali was stripped of his boxing license and World Champion title for refusing to enter the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. In 1964, Ali failed the U.S. Armed Forces qualifying test, but when the test was revised in 1966 it made the pugilist eligible for the draft.
At the time, Ali had fully embraced his Muslim faith and denounced the war, famously saying, “I ain’t go no quarrel with them Viet Cong.” Declaring himself a conscientious objector, Ali was criticized by the various boxing commissions not only for his refusal to enter the draft, but also for his ties with the Nation of Islam.
Seen as a talented but arrogant fighter, some alleged that clandestine forces rallied against Ali to see him fall, thus leading to his draft induction hearing in Houston. At the hearing, Ali refused to answer to the call of his name three times. He was warned that draft evasion was a crime and was arrested on the spot.