Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife didn’t care much for Donald Trump’s idea of pardoning the late boxing legend.
This week, Trump publicly considered using the presidential pardon power for Muhammad Ali’s draft evasion convictions. As Bleacher Report noted, Khalilah Ali saw the talk as something of an empty gesture, as Ali’s conviction had already been overturned by the Supreme Court decades ago.
“There’s no necessary need for a pardon,” Khalilah Ali told TMZ Sports.
“I think [Trump] probably was a fan of Ali and he thought he would say something positive about him. That might be it… but it’s a little too late.”
President Jimmy Carter also issued a blanket pardon to all draft evaders in 1977.
As The Sun noted in an article last year, his ex-wife was known for her political activism after her divorce from the boxer. Khalilah was married to Muhammad at the time he chose not to fight in the Vietnam War and had his boxing title stripped from him, and she stood by his side. Their marriage fell apart years later after Muhammad Ali had an extra-marital affair with a 16-year-old.
Donald Trump’s idea of pardoning Muhammad Ali seemed to be in response to the protesting NFL players, many of whom demonstrated during the national anthem in a protest against police brutality toward minorities. Though Trump has been a staunch critic of these players — even calling on NFL owners to fire protesting players last year — he appeared to have softened his stance and said he wanted input from protesting players about potential pardons that would correct abuses of the justice system.
“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that’s what they’re protesting—people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that,” Trump said (via Reuters) “They’ve seen a lot of abuse and they’ve seen a lot of unfairness.”
This would have been the second pardon of a famed boxer in as many months. In May, Donald Trump issued a pardon for the late Jack Johnson, who was the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion. Johnson was the target for racial abuse in the 1920s and was convicted of taking his white girlfriend across state lines by prosecutors who used a law meant to stop prostitution. For decades, backers of Johnson had called on different presidential administrations to pardon Johnson.
Donald Trump took up the case of Jack Johnson after actor Sylvester Stallone pushed the case.
“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”
Because Muhammad Ali’s conviction was already overturned by the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would have any action to take in regard to the charges.