Category Archives: Mohammad Ali

Passion of Muhammad Ali

Passion of Muhammad Ali

George Lois, Esquire magazine, and Muhammad Ali
Passion of Muhammad Ali
Passion of Muhammad Ali cover by George Lois

On January 24, 1964 Clay took an Army evaluation test for the draft. On March 3, after having defeating Sonny Liston on February 25 and winning the world heavyweight championship,  The Louisville Courier‐Journal published a story that Clay had failed by a slight margin to pass the psychological portions of that evaluation test.

Clay, commenting on the report, said, “Do they think I’m crazy?”

On March 13, Clay, now Muhammad Ali, took a second test and on March 20, the Department issued the following statement about Ali’s draft status: “The Department of the Army has completed a review of Cassius Clay’s second pre-induction examination and has determined he is not qualified for induction into the Army under applicable standards.”

Ali’s response was, “I just said I’m the greatest. I never said I was the smartest.

Passion of Muhammad Ali

Joe Namath

On September 15, 1965 Joe Namath took his Army physical and on December 9 that year the Army classified Namath 4-F, ineligible to be drafted. It was determined that Namath’s knees were in too poor condition for the Army to take care of, though the National Football League and Namath found that Namath’s knees were fine to play.

Passion of Muhammad Ali


On February 12, 1966,the Louisville, KY draft board re-classified Muhammad Ali as 1-A. Ali challenged the reclassification as politically motivated and questioned why other athletes, such as Namath, quarterback for the NY Jets, weren’t being drafted as well.

On April 17, 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court barred Muhammad Ali’s request to be blocked from induction into the U.S. Army and on April 28, the US Justice Department denied Ali’s claim. The Department found that his objections were political, not religious. Ali reported for induction ceremony, but refused to step forward when called.

Passion of Muhammad Ali


On June 20, 1967 Ali was found guilty of refusing induction into the armed forces. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000—the maximum penalties. He was stripped of his title by the boxing association and effectively banned from boxing.

Passion of Muhammad Ali

Esquire cover

Nine months later, George Lois’s cover picture of Ali on Esquire magazine’s April 1968 edition portrayed him as a martyr akin to St Sebastian. Kurt Andersen, host of NPR’s Studio 360, stated that “George Lois’s covers for Esquire in the 60s are classic. His April 1968 image of Muhammad Ali to dramatize the boxer’s persecution for his personal beliefs, is the greatest magazine cover ever created, making a political statement without being grim or stupid or predicable.”

Ali’s legal fight continued until June 28, 1971 when the Supreme Court reversed Muhammad Ali’s conviction for refusing induction by unanimous decision in Clay v. United States.

Passion of Muhammad Ali

Reclaims title

MORE THAN THREE years later, on October 30, 1974 Ali fought the reigning champion George Foreman in an outdoor arena in Kinshasa, Zaire, The fight is known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”  Using his novel “rope-a-dope” strategy, Ali defeated Foreman and after seven years, reclaimed the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Passion of Muhammad Ali

Greatest Muhammad Ali

Greatest Muhammad Ali

Greatest Muhammad Ali
Nov. 9, 2005, President Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to boxer Muhammad Ali in the East Room of the White House. He is now so much a part of the nation’s social fabric that it’s hard to comprehend a time when Ali was more reviled than revered.
January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016
Remembering the “Greatest” on his birthday
Greatest Muhammad Ali

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr

When Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr was born in Louisville, Kentucky no one would have predicted that one day he would be the most recognized person in the world.

Boxing was the skill that brought such fame.

The legend begins with a stolen bike. A young boy wanted to get even and a cop told him he’d better learn to fight first.

As Clay, he won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.

After the Olympics, Ali went professional. Though not each of his consecutive victories was without criticism, but the end of 1963 he was next in line to fight Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship.

Because of his personality, some could still use the term uppity without recrimination, many looked forward to Clay being pummeled by Liston and getting a comeuppance.

On February 25, 1964 Ali defeated Liston.

In their May 25, 1965 re-match, Ali defeated Liston again and successfully retained his crown for 7 more bouts until 1967 when he refused to be drafted. His championship was taken away.

At this point Ali became more than a great boxer. He became a person who some admired and others decried. Listen below to David Suskind’s withering criticism of Ali.  (also see a PBS article on Ali from a broadcast called The Trials of Muhammad Ali)

I find nothing amusing or interesting or tolerable abut this man. He’s a disgrace to his country, his race, and what he laughingly describes as his profession. he is a convicted felon in the United States. He has been found guilty. He is out on bail. He will inevitably go to prison, as well he should. He is a simplistic fool and a pawn.
Greatest Muhammad Ali

June 28, 1971

On June 28, 1971 the US Supreme Court reversed Ali’s conviction for refusing induction by unanimous decision in Clay v. United States. The decision was not based on, nor did it address, the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se, rather, the Government prosecution’s procedural failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained, constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.

Ali would go on to win back the heavyweight championship, lose it, and regain it again. The only boxer to hold the championship three different times.

Thank you Muhammad Ali

Greatest Muhammad Ali