Trump Prepares Pardon for Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali

June 8, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

President Donald Trump has a recommendation on his desk for pardoning the late legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, and he said he’s seriously considering it.

Trump was asked on Thursday about issuing more pardons after he commuted Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old from Tennessee, the day before.

“There will be more pardons,” he told reporters before leaving for the G7 Summit. “I’m thinking about somebody that you all know very well and he went through a lot and he wasn’t very popular then. … His memory is very popular now. I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. I’m thinking about that very seriously.”

Muhammad Ali was sentenced for draft evasion in 1967 to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a 3-year ban from boxing. He was also stripped of his 1964 heavyweight title. However, he appealed his case and never went to prison. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971, concluding that his religious objection to military service was valid.

Since Ali’s conviction has been overturned, Trump’s pardon would be a symbolic gesture.

Ali is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. He won three heavyweight titles and, in 1960, one gold Olympic medal. Later in life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, by then-President George W. Bush.

He died on June 3, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. He was married four times and had nine children.

Trump said his Pardon Attorney is already preparing the recommendation for Ali’s clemency. The recommendation will be then submitted to the President.

Trump said he has a list of 3,000 people who are being considered for clemency.

“We are looking at literally thousands of names of people that have come to our attention that have been treated unfairly or where their sentence is far too long,” he said.

Ali would be the second boxer to get the rare posthumous pardon from Trump, who recently issued one to boxing legend Jack Johnson.

Jack Johnson (1878 – 1946) of the USA, one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. In 1908 he took the world title from Tommy Burns and held on to it until Jess Willard beat him in 1915. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Johnson’s early 20th-century career was destroyed after he was prosecuted and imprisoned on racially motivated charges.

Boxers, historians, academics, and politicians had pushed for a pardon for Johnson for 14 years. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama never acted on the requests. Trump revealed in April that he was considering a full pardon after hearing about it from actor Sylvester Stallone.

Trump has so far issued five pardons, the latest one to conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who “was, in the President’s opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign finance laws,” the White House stated in a release.

D’Souza’s campaign contributions were scrutinized by the FBI after he released a documentary in 2012 that dug into the past and motivations of then-President Obama.

The case of Alice Marie Johnson was technically a commutation, that is changing the sentence to a lesser one. Johnson was sentenced to life in 1997 for cooperating with a group of people that were getting large shipments of cocaine from Houston and distributing them in Memphis. She used money from the criminal enterprise to buy a commercial cleaning company franchise and make a downpayment on a house. She was found guilty on five counts, including drug conspiracy and money laundering. It was her first offense.

Trump also commuted the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, who was sentenced to 27 years for money laundering after he lied to banks about the prosperity of his meat packing company to get more credit. Trump set him free on the last day of Hanukah on Dec. 20, 2017, after he had served eight years.


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