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Trump eyes pardon for late boxing hero Muhammad Ali

10 June 2018

US President Donald Trump said he is thinking "very seriously" about pardoning Muhammad Ali, even though the Supreme Court vacated the deceased boxing champion's conviction in 1971.

"The power to pardon is a attractive thing", Trump told reporters on Friday (Saturday NZT).

As for Trump, this isn't the first time he's thinking of pardoning a boxer-he recently granted Jack Johnson, the first black American heavyweight champion that honor.

Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after converting to Islam, refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, maintaining that he was a conscientious objector and famously proclaiming that he "ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong". He never went to prison while his case was under appeal and in 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

Trump also granted a commutation this week to 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, releasing from prison a great-grandmother who was serving a life sentence for drug trafficking.

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Trump followed that by pardoning conservative firebrand Dinesh D Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating United States campaign financing laws. "I'm thinking about Muhammed Ali", Trump said to assembled reporters before departing.

Ali's lawyer, Ron Tweel, said: "We appreciate President Trump's sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary".

Still, it's curious that Trump would consider Ali for a pardon at all.

Trump has also said he is mulling pardons for lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, and Rod Blagojevich, a former IL governor convicted in 2009 of soliciting bribes for political appointments, including former president Barack Obama s vacant US Senate seat.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion in 1967.

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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.

Although Trump's statement about being treated unfairly was true, his willingness to pardon something that isn't there is not.

It is not a stretch to see a direct line between Ali's activism and that of people like Colin Kaepernick, who did not face prosecution but has certainly faced consequences for his decision to kneel during the National Anthem before NFL games.

But does Ali need a posthumous pardon?

"We cried, maybe, on the phone for like three minutes straight", said an emotional Kardashian.

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He said if the players or the athletes have "a friend or people they know about who have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know".

Trump eyes pardon for late boxing hero Muhammad Ali