Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was used to fighting inside the ring, but outside of it, he went toe-to-toe with the federal government. On April 28, 1967, Ali refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
He was a Muslim and cited his religious beliefs as a reason not to enter the war. Ali also believed as a Black man, he could not fight for a racist country. After all, police brutality, poverty, and anti-Blackness was hurting our people.
For three years, Ali was banned from boxing. The federal government took away his Heavyweight title, but he didn’t stop training. Instead, he gave back to his community by opening a gym. He found refuge in our community.
That time away only made him stronger. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971, and he returned to the ring in 1971, where he won his comeback fight. For the rest of his life, he spoke out against racism and uplifted our community.
Ali realized fighting America’s wars while Black people were treated as second-class citizens was unacceptable. And today, as we continue to face the exact same issues, his stance is still relevant.