April 28, 1967 - Muhammad Ali refused to take the one step forward that would have constituted induction into the armed forces. There was no immediate government action. Although authorities foresaw several months of preliminary moves before Ali would be arrested and charged with a felony, boxing organizations instantly stripped the 25-year-old fighter of his world heavyweight championship.

"It will take at least 30 days for Ali to be indicted and it probably will be another year and a half before he could be sent to prison since there undoubtedly will be appeals through the courts," United States Attorney Morton Susman said. Ali, in a statement, distributed a few minutes after the announcement of his refusal, said: "I have searched my conscience and I find I cannot be true to my belief in my religion by accepting such a call."

Ali spent the next three years free while his conviction was on appeal lecturing at universities and Muslim gatherings around the United States and gaining support as anti-war sentiment increased.

His appeal would reach the Supreme Court in 1971. In Muhammad Ali v. United States, the Court ruled 8-0 that Ali met the three standards for conscientious objector status: that he opposed war in any form, that his beliefs were based on religious teaching and that his objection was sincere. His conviction was reversed.

 

Muhammad Ali Interview on not joining the Army: