“The Trials of Muhammad Ali”: Boxing Champ’s Refusal to Serve in Vietnam Was The Fight of His Life

Documentary Highlight –

Democracy Now excerpts from the documentary that examines the struggle Muhammad Ali faced in his conversion to Islam, his refusal to fight in Vietnam, and the years of exile that followed before his eventual return to the ring. Ali is considered the greatest boxer in the history of sports. When he refused to be drafted into the military and filed as a conscientious objector, he was sentenced to prison and stripped of his heavyweight title. He appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and did not go to prison, but he was forced to wait four years before regained his boxing license.

This Black Man did not see himself fighting a war for a country which did not care about his well-being. The United States was built on racism, sexism and classism. My people, Blacks were not considered human and still to this day are oppressed by this so-called great country’s inhabitants | leaders.

Why would a Black Man | Woman | Non-Caucasian person want to fight a war for people’s who are their oppressor…? Not I.

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When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary film directed by Leon Gast about the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The fight was held in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974.

The film features a number of celebrities, including James Brown, Jim Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee and Thomas Hauser.

When We Were Kings was released in 1996 to strong reviews,[2] and won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Muhammad Ali was exiled from fighting for four years for his refusal to fight alongside Americans in the Vietnam War –

Ho Chi Minh Creates Provisional Government
Following the surrender of Japan to Allied forces, Ho Chi Minh and his People’s Congress create the National Liberation Committee of Vietnam to form a provisional government. Japan transfers all power to Ho’s Vietminh.
President Franklin Roosevelt Dies

U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs on Japan
Making good on his threat to unleash “a rain of ruin the like of which has never been seen on earth,” President Harry Truman authorizes the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan — one on Hiroshima on August 6, and a second on Nagasaki on August 9. The Japanese will surrender within days.
Ho Declares Independence of Vietnam
British Forces Land in Saigon, Return Authority to French
First American Dies in Vietnam
Lt. Col. A. Peter Dewey, head of the American O.S.S. mission, is killed by Vietminh troops while driving a Jeep to the airport. Reports will later indicate that his death was due to a case of mistaken identity — he had been mistaken for a Frenchman.


French and Vietminh Reach Accord
France recognizes Vietnam as a “free state” within the French Union. French troops replace Chinese in the North.
ENIAC, World’s First Automatic Digital Computer, Introduced
Negotiations Between French and Vietminh Breakdown

Indochina War Begins
Following months of steadily deteriorating relations, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first concerted attack against the French.


Vietminh Move North of Hanoi
Jackie Robinson Signs with Brooklyn Dodgers

Marshall Plan Announced
Speaking at Harvard commencement exercises, Secretary of State George C. Marshall lays out the details of a Truman administration plan to assist Europe in rebuilding in the aftermath of World War II.
First Levittowns Go Up On Long Island

Valluy Fails to Defeat Vietminh
French General Etienne Valluy attempts, and fails, to wipe out the Vietminh in one stroke.


Elysée Agreement Signed
Bao Dai and President Vincent Auriol of France sign the Elysée Agreement. The French pledge to assist in the building of a national anti-Communist army.

NATO Formed
George Orwell’s 1984 Published
Volkswagen Introduced in U.S.


Chinese, Soviets Offer Weapons to Vietminh
Alger Hiss Found Guilty of Perjury

Truman Commits U.S. Troops to Korea
When Communist forces from North Korea invade the Republic of South Korea on June 25, President Truman appeals to the United Nations to take action. The U.N. quickly brands North Korea the aggressor, and Truman immediately follows up by sending U.S. air and naval support to Korea.

U.S. Pledges $15M to Aid French
The United States sends $15 million dollars in military aid to the French for the war in Indochina. Included in the aid package is a military mission and military advisors.


Ho Chi Minh Creates Workers’ Party
Truman Dismisses General Douglas MacArthur

Worst Floods in U.S. History Inundate Kansas and Missouri
“Sugar Ray” Robinson Beats Jake LaMotta for Middleweight Crown


France Grants Laos Full Independence
Rosenbergs Executed for Espionage
Playboy Magazine Debuts
Vietminh Forces Push into Laos


Battle of Dienbienphu Begins
A force of 40,000 heavily armed Vietminh lay siege to the French garrison at Dienbienphu. Using Chinese artillery to shell the airstrip, the Vietminh make it impossible for French supplies to arrive by air. It soon becomes clear that the French have met their match.
Supreme Court Rules in Brown v. Board of Education
Eisenhower Cites “Domino Theory” Regarding Southeast Asia
Responding to the defeat of the French by the Vietminh at Dienbienphu, President Eisenhower outlines the Domino Theory: “You have a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly.”
Senate Condemns McCarthy for Misconduct
French Defeated at Dienbienphu

Geneva Meeting Begins
Delegates from nine nations convene in Geneva to start negotiations that will lead to the end of hostilities in Indochina. The idea of partitioning Vietnam is first explored at this forum.

Geneva Agreements Announced
Vietminh General Ta Quang Buu and French General Henri Delteil sign the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam. As part of the agreement, a provisional demarcation line is drawn at the 17th parallel which will divide Vietnam until nationwide elections are held in 1956. The United States does not accept the agreement, and neither does the government of Bao Dai.


Diem Rejects Geneva Accords, Refuses Nationwide Elections
China and Soviet Union Pledge Additional Financial Support to Hanoi

Diem Urged to Negotiate with North
Britain, France, and United States covertly urge Ngo Dinh Diem to respect the Geneva accords and enter discussions with the North.

Ford Introduces Thunderbird
Poet Alan Ginsberg Publishes “Howl”

Disneyland Opens in Anaheim, CA
Diem Becomes President of Republic of Vietnam

MUHAMMAD ALI refused to be part of a war that killed, raped and tortured the lives of many. He won 3 world titles and will always be remembers for his conscious outspoken tone.