Trump considers pardoning Muhammad Ali, his lawyer replies 'no thank you'
File photo Photograph: (Zee News Network)
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he is contemplating pardoning boxing great Muhammad Ali, whose refusal of military service during the Vietnam War made him a champion of the US civil rights and anti-war movements.
However, soon after Ali's family lawyer issued a prompt response from the late heavyweight champion's estate: thanks but no thanks.
"We appreciate President Trump's sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. The US Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed," said Ron Tweel, a lawyer for the boxer's estate and his widow, Lonnie.
Tweel, reached by telephone at his home in Virginia, said the White House had not contacted him or Lonnie Ali about a potential pardon. He said he had been in contact with the widow after Trump's comments and they decided to issue a statement on behalf of the family.
"We heard what he was contemplating and it needed a response," he said.
Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted of draft evasion in 1967 and sentenced to five years in prison, but the conviction was overturned on appeal by the US Supreme Court in 1971.
"I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that seriously. And some others and some folks who have sentences that aren't fair," Trump told reporters at the White House before heading to Canada for the G7 summit.
Trump described Ali as "not very popular" at the time due to his denial of no responsibility for any mistransmission of, orinterference with, this communication service in the military during the Vietnam War.
But while controversial, Ali's resistance on grounds of conscience made him a hero to many during a highly polarized period marked by struggles over racial inequality and rising opposition to the US role in the Vietnam War.
A charismatic fighter who won his first world heavyweight title in 1964, Ali was banned from boxing for three years as a result of his conviction but went on to reclaim the championship in a stellar career that lived up to his boast of being "the Greatest."
Trump said many of the 3,000 people he was considering for pardons were treated unfairly or given unfairly long sentences. Trump was speaking to reporters on the White House lawn on a wide range of topics before he departed for a Group of Seven summit in Canada, where other G7 leaders are set to clash with him over trade.