"My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America", Ali said. "I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali, I'm thinking about that very seriously". "And some folks that have sentences that aren't fair". Alis legal fight ended in 1971, when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, reversing his conviction on a technicality.
In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali's conviction in a unanimous decision, accepting Ali's argument that he should be excused on religious grounds.
Last month, Trump pardoned the late boxer Jack Johnson, who was convicted for transporting a white woman across state lines over 100 years ago. President Jimmy Carter also offered a blanket pardon in 1977 for any draft dodger who requested one.
Still, it's curious that Trump would consider Ali for a pardon at all.
In opposing the war, Ali famously said in 1967, "If I'm gonna die, I'll die now right here fighting you, if I'm gonna die". He was stripped of his World Boxing Association heavyweight title, his passport and all his boxing licenses.
Johnson, who served nearly 22 years in federal prison for a first-time criminal offense, was pardoned this week.
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Trump did not elaborate on why he might pardon for Ali.
Trump told reporters Friday that his administration is "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". Trump would have been around 21 when Ali's conviction was in the news, so he likely remembers the uproar it caused.
But he said he also wants to pardon or commute sentences for non-celebrities, people like Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender, whose sentence he commuted Wednesday a week after Kim Kardashian West pleaded her case in an Oval Office meeting.
Analysts believe Trump's newfound enthusiasm for exercising pardoning power is because it's a presidential privilege unchecked by other branches of government, which can not be said of most of Trump's other policies.
In April, he issued a full pardon in April to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak of the covert identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame.