Joe Bruno on Boxing – Muhammad Ali is Not a Hero.

Muhammad Ali passed away Friday night, June 3, 2016. I wrote the article below around the year 2000.

I got to know him fairly well in the 1980’s, when I was Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association. He was a real friendly man, and we had several nice conversations about what I have written below.

Still, his death doesn’t change what he was, and what he did early in his career.

It is with a sad heart that I stand by what is written below.

It’s just the truth, and a man’s death doesn’t change the truth.

*****

Muhammad Ali Hero?—Not!!!!!!!
There’s a new phenomenon taking place in boxing, and in the news media in general, which I’ll gracefully call revisionist history. I’m talking about the way the so-called media portrays one of the most controversial figures of all time – Muhammad Ali.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali may have been great fighter, but he was also a shameless draft dodger, who refused to fight for his country in the Vietnam War.

If you say the United States didn’t belong in Vietnam–I agree. If you say it was a stupid war, a war we couldn’t win — I also agree. I didn’t like the war any more than Ali did, but me and hundreds of thousands of other men like me, black, white, or whatever, went into the United States armed service because it was our duty to our country and to our families.

Ali’s refusal to be inducted wasn’t a black/white thing like he and his people tried to shove down our throats. Hundreds of thousand of white men chickened out and avoided service in Vietnam too.

Ali claimed to be a Muslim minister as his exemption to get out of the military draft. Ali was a minister like Al Sharpton is a Reverend and like Dr. Irwin Corey is a physician. The draft board rightfully saw through Ali’s charade and classified him one A. But this man, who had already gotten rich though the American system of free enterprise, adamantly refused to take the one symbolic step forward on the day he was drafted.

To me, that was not only traitorous, it was darn personal.

My own life was put on hold for almost eight years because of the Vietnam War. I graduated Cardinal Hayes high school in 1965, I wasn’t taking enough credits at Hunter College to avoid the draft because I had to work full time so I could buy food to eat and keep a roof over my head. So, as was prescribed by the rules of the draft, I received a 1A classification.

In 1966, I decided to join the Navy, which three of my uncles had already served in, rather than get drafted into the army. I did four years active duty and another two years reserved. I could’ve beaten the draft like other skells did. Some jerks erroneously claimed to be gay to beat the draft. Others put needles in their arms and said they were junkies so they would fail the physical. And still others like myself were too proud to do things so disgraceful and humiliating, so we did what we thought was the only right and honorable thing to do. We either joined, or we were inducted into the Armed Forces of the United States of America. My only other alternative was suicide, since my father and my uncles would’ve surely beaten me to death if I ever did anything offensive to myself, my family and my country.

Starting in 1969, I did an 11-month tour on the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Bay of Tonkin 40 miles off the coast of Vietnam. I was a parachute rigger, so once a week I had to fly by helicopter into De Nang to pack the chutes in their base parachute loft. I saw white men serving there in the worst of conditions, along with black men, Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants and a couple of Lithuanians too. Men that didn’t want to be in Vietnam any more than I did, but went anyway because America, right or wrong, is still our country, and if you want to live here and enjoy what the best country in the world has to offer, you have obligations.

I’ll never forget the night Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time in 1970. The fight was broadcast live on Armed Forces Radio in the middle of the night for us in Vietnam. I remember hundreds of us setting our alarms for 3 am, even though we were on 12-hour working shifts in the war zone for as long as 45 days in a row. We sat around radios in all parts of the Constellation and I don’t remember one man who was rooting for Ali to win. Every race, color and creed was rooting for Smokin’ Joe Frazier, not the big-mouthed, race-baiting, draft dodger, and when Smokin’ Joe landed his famous left hook that dropped Ali in the fifteenth round, the huge ship rocked with cheers.

For whatever flimsy reasons he and white-hating Muslim sect tried to concoct, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, and to me and millions like me, that’s the bottom line. You disgrace the memory of tens of thousands heroic Americans, black, white or whatever, who died in Vietnam and in every war before and since Vietnam, when you glorify the draft dodger, scoundrel, reprobate and the four-marriage adulterer Muhammad Ali definitely was. The pitiful condition he’s in now is sad, but has no relevance to the sins he committed back when he was, as he defiantly proclaimed —-The Greatest.

Thirty years have passed, and the sportswriters who railed against Ali’s treason in the 1960’s – men like Jimmy Cannon, Dick Young, and the great Red Smith – are all dead. The scribes still living are mostly the flower-child, pot-smoking, free-love, “peace man” types (Maynard G Krebs/Beatniks) and selective-memory airheads like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Frank Rich and Mollie Irvins. Others who choose to ignore Ali’s dark past are generally Jane Fonda/Country Joe Fish-types and Woodstock Generation lemmings, who watch MSNBC and read left-wing rags like the New York Times, The Village Voice and the Washington Post. Not to mention limousine-liberals like the Kennedys and Cuomos, who wouldn’t be caught dead being in the same building with the very people whose pain they supposedly feel.

Muhammad Ali was a great fighter, but he was a draft dodger and much worse. In my book he will never be a great American. He was certainly no Joe Louis, a black man who proudly served his country in World War II and was rightfully referred to by Jimmy Cannon as “a credit to his race — the human race.”

Ali is a credit to no one but himself. His war record, along with the alimony he is forced to pay to four ex-wives, tells me more about Muhammad Ali than anything he ever did in the ring.

Photo Joe Bruno- Muhammad Ali 1985.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Joebruno999

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148 Responses to “Joe Bruno on Boxing – Muhammad Ali is Not a Hero.”

  1. John james Says:

    “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
    ain’t no bigger pussy than M. Ali” Draft Dodger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • john p aoueille Says:

      In my opinion Joe Bruno, you hit the nail on the head with your article on C.C. .(Muhammad Ali, My ASS). And John James gets a A+ on his poem.

    • Charles Eubanks Says:

      Plain and simple – Draft dodging coward! thousands of young men found and gave all in that war that didn’t necessarily agree with being there.

      • Did anyone ever consider that the VN war was simply unconstitutional and therefore the govt. had no right to send any US soldier there? Congress doesn’t have the authority to delegate it’s right to declare war through a “resolution” because that right lays in the Constitution. Just wondering if that argument was ever heard back then.

    • I agree, he was a coward and a draft dodger but the media seems to forget that part because he is black.

  2. Ella Brand Says:

    Don’t get mad b/c you decided to fight in that illuminati war. I respect those who decided to fight as much as those who chose not to. They all paid a price for the decision they made. Lots of Black men lost their lives unnecessarily as disproportionate numbers of poor blacks were drafted. I remember scores of neighborhoods with black men drawn into that mess. He did the right thing. If more had done that…the gov’t wouldn’t be so quick to go to war. Respect the man’s decision & leave it at that!!!

    • Ella, I respect your opinion, I just don’t agree with it.

      I know a lot of white men, Italian-Americans like me, who did anything they could to avoid being drafted. I don’t respect them either. When your government calls, you go – period. Whether or not you agree with the purpose of the war. Millions of men and women have served and hundreds of thousands have died, so that we can live in the best country in the world. They are still doing it now.

      Ali may have been a great fighter, but to me, he made a huge mistake not going when his country called.

      • Draft statistic followed minority staristics at the time. During Vietnam around 13% of the US population were black. Of all the US citizens drafted into service during that time around 11-12% were black. So statistic do not back up your claim that the number of black individuals was not proportionate.

      • I never said that.

      • Steve Lawtence Says:

        Joe i read your comment about Cassius Clay dodging the draft and they were right on. I have always wondered want happened to the next guy on the list that took his place, I like you did not want to go to Vietnam but i did because it was my duty.

      • commonsense Says:

        Oh horseshit with that war and the one we are in now. It is all lies!! He stood his ground that is not a coward that is brave as sh*t look at all the slack he is still getting now and how many vets with disabilities think it was worth going? Look how they lived in the streets homeless that is not brave that is unfortunate. He didn’t want to get used to kill people, I call that survival mentality. I wouldn’t say he would back down from a fight, now would you? Kill innocent people.. completely different story. I stand behind him on his decision completely and I feel sorry for the young kids that went over there and died. Your family wasn’t in danger then and they aren’t now either.

      • Commonsense, try showing some.

        You miss the point completely. This is the United States of America. Millions died so that we could have the freedoms we now have. No country in the world even comes close.

        When your country calls, you go. No questions asked. If you don’t like the rules, go live in another country.

        Period.

    • “Illuminati?” Not up the Vam Co Tay River.

    • Jewel Wyrick Says:

      It was never Cassius Clay,’s choice or anyone else’s choice. The young men who were drafted and many killed did not have anything against the people. Draft card meant you went. Clay became Ali a decade later. Who today believes Islams do not believe in war. Ali was a draft dodger with powerful backers.

    • Jewel Wyrick Says:

      No choice for real Americans. Draft is the law and duty.

    • Jewel Wyrick Says:

      The draft was by number not color of skin. Maybe more Caucasian draftees enlisted. I had many friends enlist when they drew low numbers. Everything is not about race amazingly.

    • You are joking right? Disproportionate amount of blacks were drafted.

      • The ultimate proportion of combat deaths black and white more or less was in accord with the population. Many whites who served were not draftees. It was common for working class white youth to join the military under pressure of the draft. Some regarded combat service as a test of manhood or a rite of passage. Many volunteered for Army airborne training. Many blacks voluntarily enlisted also. I have heard, 80 percent of the Americans who served in Vietnam were volunteers. But many volunteered only because the draft existed. Sometimes, young men enlisted to be able to choose their branch of service. The greatest number of Vietnam-era draftees were assigned to the Army. The Marine Corps took some draftees and the Navy a few also. That means, for one thing, that the Marine Corps in Vietnam had a very high proportion of volunteers.

    • You are miss informed on the blacks verses whites, a huge number of hispanics were sent to the front lines, as well as whites, the part our government doesn’t want to admit to is that they pushed the lower to poor middleclass into the front lines. The privileged college students of all colors were given special treatment. My husband is Puertorican, his brother served respectively, and is now deceased. He told of the privileged few that did not have to serve, or were cowards, and they were of all nationalities. Canada, was a huge shelter, as was Mexico. The black panthers preached hatrated, and boycotting the draft, and Vietnam was the message aganist whites. So I say to you, if you avoid serving your country, by lieing about religion, or dogging the draft, then you are defiantly a huge part of one of the biggest injustice ever to basicly spit on the very men and women who fought for you to wake up every day in a free country!

    • Ella Brand: It is very obvious that you have never served your country in any capacity and for any reason. You are not qualified to state your opinion on the issue and yet you did it anyway. If you knew your history any better you’d know that (as it is today) roughly 13% of the American population was black back during the Vietnam War…and roughly 13% of all American service members were black. To top it off, roughly 13% of all causalities of the Vietnam War were black. So get of your ignorant high horse and butt out of something that you know virtually nothing about.

  3. Very true. He should have served every day of that prison sentence.

    • I agree . eight of my twelve brothers served in the Military WWII -Vietnam .
      One of the three of my brother WWII was at Pearl and served twenty-three years , my brother joined they were not drafted .
      Four of the five of my brother served the US Military were in Vietnam two Marines ,one Navy and one Army Green Beret
      My youngest brother a Marine was wounded one of my older brothers with the Green Beret was KIA he was a Huey Gunship Pilot .
      My son also served ten years Army he was with the 82 nd Airborne.
      I have no respect for draft dodgers .
      Thank you Joe for your service .

  4. Joe Brunno I thank you for writing this piece on Ali. Me and my dad love boxing, I mean love boxing!! But I remember one night watching Mayweather and all the trash talking he was doing. It brought back memories of when Roy Jones was unbeatable and all the trash talking he did as well. And I remember looking at my dad and saying: “you know that Ali is not all that people say he is, a hero?? Hero for what? for being the father of trash talking and disrespecting your opponent? for dodging your citizen duties? Where in there is a hero? Where in there is someone I can look up to?? Talented? yes, great boxer? absolutely, but a hero? role model?? not even close…

    • Danie, you’re absolutely right. People sometimes confuse talent with heroism. I knew Ali quite well (in the 80s, after he retired), and he was an extremely nice person. He told me he did all he did to hype the gate, and I believe him. But in the 60s and 70s he was the most hated boxer on the planet. But that was his plan; make people hate him so they pay to see him beat. I’m not happy with the condition he’s presently in. He was used and misused by the vultures. But I still see that spark of happiness in his eyes.

      • He was an extremely nice person and yet you are trying to destroy him in writing after his death, what does that say about you? You have no idea what his true intentions were regarding not wanting to go to war if you don’t believe the reason he gave. I, for one can completely understand about not wanting to kill another human being because someone told me they were my enemy, also if it would destroy his career I would understand that too, none of you should have went and if you all said no it could have saved a lot of people. That’s why I never listened to gossip in school I don’t let anyone tell me who my enemies are. Stop being nationalistic flag worshippers and being brainwashed by war mongerers. America is no more important than any other country in Europe, except Iceland. Iceland is something to look up to, it is the most peaceful country in the world and as luck would have it the happiest also.

      • Commonsense – I’ve been a journalist more more than 40 years. It’s my job to give opinions; good or bad. I’m not trying to destroy Ali. I’m just trying to set the record straight as I see it.

        And if you really think America is not the best country in the world – the most important country in the world – you’re delusional.

        Iceland sounds good. Bon Voyage, and make sure you bring your thermal underwear.

    • Muhammed Ali was a hero in the same way that Jane Fonda was a hero – they were both celebrities who helped the Left dress up their fascist conquest of Indochina as something noble. Since most of the media these days is as thick as thieves with these people, Ali’s “heroic” status will be repeated often and loudly in the next few days and weeks, regardless of the facts.

    • I agree totally with you Ali was a accomplish Boxer but a hero not even close. Ali like all draft dodging cowards are a disgrace to our Flag , Constitution ,the Military, and disgrace to America s a whole.

  5. He should have been given status as a conscientious objector.

    The Supreme Court agreed with him and overturned his conviction.

    It’s no different than if he had been Amish, Mennonite, or Quaker.

    Perhaps he could have gone on a religious mission, like Romney, who changed addresses so he could get an exemption. Had he remained in Utah, there’s a very good chance he would have been called up. He went to Michigan, where there are a lot fewer Mormons to compete with for service exemptions.

    I’ve always wondered why he ended up in France.

    “I know you guys are Christian, but you’re not my kind of Christian.”

    We could always talk about Cheney, who decided he had better things to do during Vietnam.

    • Eddie. It’s not fair to absolve bad activity by pointing to other bad activity. Ali, Romney, and Cheney didn’t do something I did – I served honorably in the Vietnam War. And I’m proud of it.

    • Jewel Wyrick Says:

      Mormons never took a religious exemption except for missionaries already serving. I could give you a list of Mormons who were drafted and enlisted. My husband was one number away when they called off the draft.

  6. christopherpaulmeyer Says:

    Well said brother. Thought the same thing for years, never put it in writing. Glad you did.

    • Christopher, I was a boxing writer in NY City for 15 years. From 1982-86 I was the VP of the Boxing Writers Association. I knew Ali well, but mostly after he retired. And quite frankly, I liked him. He was a great guy. But I still can’t condone his actions concerning the Vietnam war. I’m a Viet Nam veteran. I didn’t like the war, and if I had my druthers, I would have sat it out. But I would never consider trying to weasel out of serving when it was mandatory.

      • Patriot lover Says:

        Thank you for your service, you are more of a man outside the ring than he was. He was a draft dodger and associated with black panthers, the other KKK. Inside the ring he was like no other but that doesn’t make you a hero. Hero’s are those that write a blank check up to the value of their life.

  7. Very well done. I especially like the part about sportswriters lionizing Ali. For example, he was voted athlete of the century in 2000, even though many do not consider him the best boxer of the century, let alone best athlete. the reason so many baby boom writers built up Ali.. he improved their self-esteem. Most of them avoided the draft, but they could say, “yeah I avoided it, but so did the toughest man in the world, Muhammed Ali” For what it is worth, i was never in Vietnam but I was in the Air Force for part of the conflict, at Lajes Air base in the Azores islands.

  8. I was in the military then (1968-74), too, though I was never sent to Vietnam, and I still admire Ali for standing up for his principles. Face it, your Joe Louis comparison is terribly flawed. Louis never saw combat, but was just used to fight a series of meaningless exhibitions for the Army. With less principles, Ali could have done the same thing — join the Army, knowing he would never be in danger, fight some nice exhibitions on behalf of the Army, and then be lionized for the rest of his life. Instead he took a more courageous route, following his ideals, and it is sad that he still gets dumped on for it.

    • Don L. You’re assuming Ali was telling the truth when he said he was standing up for his ideals when he refused to be inducted into the Armed Forces. I maintain that was bull, a total fabrication. and he just didn’t want to interrupt his boxing career, in which the Black Muslims were basically funding their activities by taking huge chunks of Ali’s paycheck by serving as his “manager,” via Herbert Muhammad, who was also the chief business manager for the Nation of Islam.

      But then, the Boxing Commissions in America put the kibosh on that by suspending Ali for three years, in the prime of his career; thereby ending his and the Nation of Islam’s cash flow.

      Look at Ali’s financial position now. It’s sad he has Parkinson’s, but Ali is basically broke, and has been for 30 years, because he had huge amounts of his boxing paychecks, much more than the standard 33 1/2 percent managerial fees, taken by the Nation of Islam. My take is that they used Ali, conned him into disgracing himself by refusing to be inducted him into the military, and then left him financially destitute.

      • Anonymike Says:

        The thing that bothers me the most about Ali is the taunting he engaged in and his indifference to the cheating on his behalf that went on.

        He taunted and deliberately injured Ernie Terrell after Terrell refused to call him by his Muslim name. Dispute before bout. Proclaim after. Don’t taunt during. In a better managed sport, his taunting might have led to some kind of sanction. How you fight, as long as the blows are legal, I suppose is your business. But I do not respect Ali for taunting his opponents.

        His corner apparently cheated on his behalf in his first bout against the British champion Henry Cooper. Cooper caught Ali with a left hook at the end of the fourth round. Ali got up quickly. During the break between rounds, his cornermen “discovered” a cut in his glove. This necessitated a delay while he changed gloves. Many people say Cooper “knocked out” Ali. It didn’t look a knockout to me. But Ali might have been stunned a little. Whatever advantage Cooper had gained had dissipated by the time the fight resumed.

        Ali was known for abusing rather than “carrying” overmatched opponents. Especially when he had some basis for a grudge against them. He held grudges only against other black fighters.

        Later in his career, Ali was the beneficiary of “sweetheart” decisions in fights against Ken Norton, Jimmy Young, and Ernie Shavers. Many fans and boxing experts believe Doug Jones outpointed him in the 1963 fight immediately preceding his fight against Henry Cooper.

        The psychology of athletes has been widely studied. Athletes are people and do all of the things other people do. Many of them will cheat and manipulate and then enjoy the glory that comes with victory without experiencing a tinge of conscience. Ali was an athlete. He was no worse than many. But no better either. I don’t think he rates that high on the sportsmanship scale. Or the honesty scale either.

        Outside the ring, he was personable and got along with people. He never, as far as I know, promoted violence outside the ring. But there are some aspects of his personal life that he might want the world kept in the dark about. Allegedly, he had fathered many illegitimate children. That was something that apparently was hisgtorically true about many boxers, including white boxers. In the the late 1970s, a civil lawsuit was filed against him alleging that he had fathered an illegitimate child with a 12-year-girl. Whether the allegation was found valid is something I do not know. Sometimes these things are settled without an admission of fault. Sometimes they are tossed out of court early in the proceedings. Sometimes they are just dropped.

        The point, I think, is, Ali was a great boxer and a superlative showman, a showman on the scale of Elvis Presley almost. But he was only a man, a man with less than perfect character. In fact, a man with poor character in some ways.

      • Anonymike, you are right on the mark. Ali also tortured Floyd Patterson in their second fight when Patterson’s back went out and he lasted 10 or 11 rounds. His back was so bad, he couldn’t sit on his stool between rounds. If I remember correctly, Patterson never quit and the fight was stopped by the referee.

  9. The Vietnam War is way past my time but from what I have read and seen I think Ali did the right thing by refusing the draft. America is built on freedom and I think every person has the right to choose to be a conscientious objector if he or she chooses. Just because the government is in power and they choose to go to war, does that mean every single person must unequivocally pick up arms and join them to help kill and destroy lives. God forbid, a modern day Hitler comes to power and decrees another holocaust, are we to just say ok and anyone who protests this is a coward? Honestly, I think it took a lot of courage for Ali to stand for his beliefs. As one of your previous posters mentioned, had Ali been drafted he would probably be going around doing exhibition matches (though the Gov’t denies offering this deal, let’s face it, chances are such a deal was probably offered if not officially. Ali joining the war would be a great publicity and morale booster whilst his protest would bring about the controversy that we saw. Plus, needless to say it would be a huge blow to morale and would bring more objections to the war should he die on the front lines). Instead, he chose the more difficult route objecting to the war, which cost him his reputation, his title, his best boxing years, his wealth and he almost had to go to prison for it (had his sentence not been overturned by the supreme court and it very nearly wasn’t, deadlocked at 4-4 before the 8-0 compromise).

    I think that Ali is a true champion of the people. I have inserted a few links to videos and one article to show the humble and non boastful , down to earth side of Ali you don’t normally see, and you will see the superhero, the diplomat and the friend . People do not really hear these stories because as in the words of Muhammad Ali in the video ” I do need publicity but not for what I do for good. I need publicity for my book, I need publicity for my fights, I need publicity for my movie but not for helping people. Because then it is no longer sincere”. I don’t know many other athletes who uses his or her fame for good, helping people without an agenda. If you are not touched and inspired by a man who spontaneously helps a person in need, who travels halfway around the world to a possible conflict zone (US forces were already starting to be deployed) despite Parkinsons and old age to free hostages, a man who brings you up when you are down then I have no words.




    http://www.americansc.org.uk/Online/Ali.htm

    Note: Supreme Court is the highest judicial power so in the eyes of the United States government, Muhammad Ali is not a draft dodger.

    • As a boxing writer for 20 years, and the VP of the Boxing Writers Association from 1982-86, I got to know Ali very well. You’re right. He’s an extremely nice guy. Very personable.

      But in my opinion, he did the wrong thing in refusing to be inducted into the armed forces. He was led astray by outside forces with their own agenda. The Nation of Islam controlled Ali, through Herbert Muhammad, and after they squeezed every dime out of him that they could, they left him virtually broke. They miscalculated the consequences Ali would receive by not being inducted into the armed forces. They never expected a three year suspension. And they were wrong. As a result, Ali suffered financially; not the Nation of Islam. During this three year period, Ali was so broke, he borrowed money from Joe Frazier.

      Again, this is my opinion (about Ali refusing to be inducted), and opinions are like noses. Everybody has one.

    • Anonymike Says:

      The court of history is a different place. Muhammad Ali is a figure in history for his role as a war resister and activist. In the court of history the findings of legal systems are merely one part of the array of facts to be considered. These issues are never settled, and cannot be. People take different sides and we have to agree to disagree and try remain our American family. Ali was a war resister, no doubt about that. Others on both sides of the issue paid a higher price than he did though he was willing to go to prison if he had to. Many of my friends are Vietnam veterans. I didn’t go. Some people might call me a war resister. I don’t think of myself as such. I support the veterans ahead of the surviving antiwar activists. That is my choice, others think differently.

    • Jewel Wyrick Says:

      Leon check your draft card. Every man must register by 18. It is not s suggestion and if Congress deems the draft is necessary, you are legally bond to go. The draft is not new during fighting Hitler 14-15 yr old were draft. My son did not agree with the Iraq war but served as a Ranger & Major in the Infantry. He chose Infantry to help save his men’s lives. They all came home until he left. 3 of his men died the 1st month. Everyone is up to draft but heroes join. Love of country….. What Clay lacked.

    • ali like bill clinton and donald trump are Vietnam draft dodging anti-Constitutional cowards .

    • Dawn Brown Says:

      Yours is the best most insightful comment next to the lady who said respect the man’s decision. He choose what he thought was right in the face of serious social injustice that was going on in America at the time especially involving the black community.

      It’s interesting that nobody has mentioned that fact. Why because mindsets haven’t changed. He like so many other blacks and people of color were not treated as equal citizens in their own country yet were expected to give their lives.

      Now that he is dead the decendants of the fairer shades are ganging up on him and tearing him down. With such hateful venom.

      He was but a man with flaws just like everyone else. Who is anybody to sit in judgment of him? What because all of you are so perfect?
      Because you chose to fight and he didn’t?
      That’s what your constitution guaranteed freedom from oppression freedom of speech freedom of religion. …simply the freedom to choose to live at peace in society under the protection of the laws.

      Same tactics that were used back than are being used on this thread. Tactics of bullying and ganging up on someone because they disagree with your stance.
      He isn’t here to defend himself but I will because everyone deserves the right to face their accusers.

      Not only that which one of you sought him out or his family and tell them to their face just how you felt about what he did?

      I think it would be safe to say not one of you.
      I don’t care about your hateful responses either. Doesn’t effect me one bit but it will surely eat you from the inside.d

      • Dawn Brown, As the Vice President of the Boxing Writers from 1982-86, I met Ali several times and I spoke to him face to face about him avoiding the draft. This was around 1984-85 after he retired. So your argument that no one approached him face to face to discuss this situation is not true.

        We had a very nice conversation over dinner at the Downtown Athletic Club. He basically told me he was a young kid at the time and he was following the advice of the Black Muslims, Elijah Muhammad specifically. He didn’t say he regretted what he did, but he did say if he hadn’t been so much under the influence of Elijah Muhammad he may have come to a different decision. He acknowledged that he knew he would never have to go to Viet Nam and fight like other soldiers. And that his life would have never been in danger.

        What he didn’t say was that he was also close to Malcolm X, and it was common knowledge at the time that Elijah Muhammad had Malcolm X killed. So maybe there was the fear factor involved for Ali, too. Ali refused to be drafted right after Malcolm X was killed. So the timing may have been right. But this is strictly speculation on my part.

        I felt Ali’s excuse to me was like “The dog ate my homework.” And I told him so. He was basically blaming someone else for his actions, which may or may not be true. But if a close friend of yours just got assassinated by the man who was telling you to avoid the draft, well, that sort of puts the pressure on you to do what the man requested, or maybe face the same punishment.

        Aside from that, I always enjoyed being in Ali’s company. Once night he took me and a couple of friends of mine up to his room at the Downtown Athletic Club, where he stood when he was in NY City. He spent the next half hour doing magic tricks for us.

        At the beginning of my article above, I explained that I didn’t especially enjoy writing what I wrote about Ali, which I originally wrote around the year 2000 for the Cyberboxingzone. But, being a journalist for more than 40 years compelled me to do so.

        I firmly believe everything I wrote in the article above, but I also admit that I liked Ali as a person, and it was difficult for me to do so. Very difficult, but that goes with the territory of being a journalist.

  10. It is interesting to me that a lot of people that love their right to freedom of speech will not defend it. Why is it ok for one man to go & die for “his country” but another man to “decline”. If you are not willing to fight for the country you live in…..you should not be allowed to enjoy the luxury of our great nation. He was no better than my father who was drafted. He should have served his time in the military or prison one.

    • I absolutely agree, Terry. If had had to go to Vietnam and your father was drafted, I’m assuming during the Viet Nam War. Ali was no better than us. I feel he had no right to refuse. That “conscientious objector” excuse was just a lie so he wouldn’t have to serve.

  11. Cassius Clay, not only a draft dodger but hypocritical when joining the religion of hate with ambitions of Islamic world domination.
    Glad he didn’t run here to Canada to dodge his duty as an American, we are so much better off not having his big mouth and big narcissistic ego here.

    • Cassius Clay was an all time great fighter.

      A hero, no way.

      If you are called to serve your country you should serve. I believe in love it or leave.

      A hero is a man who could have been a conscientious objector but wanted to serve and did in WW11 as a non -combatant. He served as a combat medic, never took a life and saved so many in the pacific. His name was
      Desmond T Doss, a true American hero.

  12. Gene McGrew Says:

    Amen!!! Great article!!! Thanks for having the guts to say what Ali really was.

  13. Let’s not forget, years after he retired, he would lead chats of “ALI” ringside at heavyweight fights, mocking the present champion…the fact a disease took away his speech for the last 25 years of his life….karma

  14. Patricia. Ednie Says:

    Hahalujah !!!!! I’m not the only one who remembers and gets furious over the ‘Great Ali”. He even lit the Olymic Flame !!!! Disgrace. Hope they don’t put him in Arlington

  15. I totally agree with you. Let me begin by saying that all the young men I will tell you about were all from average middle class families, sons of Italian immigrants or 2nd generation. My husband, like you was working his way through college when the draft was activated. He chose to enlist in the Army reserve rather than wait for his number to be called. He was still called to active duty and he went, but luckily ended up in Germany. My brother in law, worked like a dog to put himself through college and Wharton Business school with merit based academic scholarships and full time menial jobs while simultaneously going to school full time. One month before graduation the Draft Board informed him of his change of status to 1A, effective the day after graduation. He did his duty and reported in. He did two tours in Vietnam. All three of my cousins were drafted by the time they were 20. All 3 went to Vietnam. All of their fathers were WWII vets, 2 wounded in the Pacific. My father is a Navy Korean war vet. Like you, not one of them wanted to go. But they did. Because they had an obligation and a duty to our country. And like you, their fathers would have beaten them to death if they even considered draft dodging. Regardless of how nice a guy Cassius Clay was, or how many good works he did later in life, he was a disrespectful coward who shirked his duty. Who legitimized and validated the people who spit on soldiers, called them child murderers and pigs and burned the American flag. No one wanted to fight the Vietcong. But millions did their duty. Clay let himself be used by others and hid behind his conversion to Islam. In 1970 I was 8 years old and I too, remember his comeback fight. Mainly because my father and all my uncles gathered at my house to root for Joe Frazier and tell me and all my cousins what coward and criminal Clay was. Until the day he died, my father refused to call him Muhammed Ali.

    • Yes, Danielle. We are in total agreement. I knew Ali pretty well; especially after he retired. He was a really nice guy, but I can never forget what he he in the 60’s and 70’s. And I told him that to his face. He tried to explain, but I wasn’t buying it.

  16. Sue West Says:

    I remember it well You are right its a disgrace that a coward be called a hero

  17. Anonymike Says:

    As an issue of requiem I want to talk about Muhammad Ali only as a boxer. He was called “The Greatest” but that was only a sobriquet. Many people consider him the greatest boxer of all time. I don’t. I have doubts about whether he at his peak could have defeated any and all of the heavyweight greats.

    Some people think so, but I think the less people know about sports history, the more likely they are to believe that Ali was the greatest boxer inside the ring. What the “greatest” means in athletics is a matter of interpretation. I consider Lou Gehrig the greatest ballplayer, but his teammate Babe Ruth was the only ballplayer ever who was provably of Hall of Fame caliber both as a pitcher and as a position player. If I ruled the world, the numbers of #4 Lou Gehrig and #21 Roberto Clemente would be retired alongside Jackie Robinson’s #42.

    I have no argument with Robinson’s number being retired. He was a better ballplayer than most are aware of and he was a man who had virtue in that Roman sense. But he was not the only man who had it.
    Ali worked out with Rocky Marciano in 1964, when Ali was 22 and Marciano 40, for the purpose of creating some film footage. Reportedly, Ali did not do that well against Marciano.
    I believe Marciano would have defeated Ali, but that’s not the all-time fight I would like to see. If I could have one fight between Ali and one of the greats of a different era, I would like to see Ali v. Joe Louis. I don’t think that fight would go well for Ali. We should remember, though, that Ali’s peak as a boxer came in the 1960s, not the 1970s. He probably had reached it by the time he was forced into inactivity because of his legal issues with military draft.
    Athletes can compete only against the people who are there to compete with. Joe Frazier gave him all he could take in three fights. We don’t know what would have happened if Ali had fought George Foreman a couple of years before he did.

    It is useful to remember, Ali was not the only slim and stylish heavyweight to beat Foreman by the same strategy. The other one was Philadelphia Jimmy Young in 1977.

    Great? Yes, obviously. In that top tier with Louis, Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson? Of course. But, inside the ropes, the greatest boxer ever? We don’t know. But I doubt it. Nor do I like the idea of people who are not sports historians trying to school me. In one-on-one competition, you can only be the best ever if you could have beaten the people below you on the list. No proof that Ali could have done that.

    Let’s not speak ill of the departed, not so quickly and not until the issue goes back into the court of history. All the evidence, the real evidence, shows the ranking of Ali as better than Louis and Marciano as questionable. Henry Cooper at 180 pounds fought a young Ali very well, even before Ali was champion and had changed his name. Can you say Dempsey wouldn’t have given him a battle?
    We don’t know how Ali v. the greats or even some of the lesser champions and contenders would have worked out. What we do know is that we don’t want to be ruled mentally by the ignorant,

  18. I was in the Navy during part of that period of viet and served on a WWII Destroyer in the Pacific and very proud of my 9+ years served. I’m another one that does not agree in the US fighting in another country’s Civil War. Only if our way of life is threatened should we be involved. As for Ali and draft dodgers I have no respect. period. Make all the excuses but if we don’t go when called then just leave the country you don’t serve and don’t come back but happy when your new country calls you for their purpose or go find another country!
    What language would we speak here if no one decided to go to war because they didn’t believe in it? Sounds like some people have their Head where it doesn’t belong!

  19. I’ll definitely put Ali in the top 10 heavyweight of all time. Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano – who was never beaten. All should rank ahead of Ali.

    Then we have Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis – all who may or may not have beaten Ali. Actually, Frazier did – one time.

    So the best I could ranked Ali would be #6.

    Don’t forget, Leon Spinks, in his 7th pro fight, beat Ali. None of the other fighters I have mentioned would have any problem beating Leon Spinks. And what about Ken Norton? He gave Ali fits three times. And he was mediocre at best.

    • Ali’s all-time ranking is very much in dispute. If someone could not have beaten one of the other greats, then he is not the best. Marciano and worked out with Ali to create some film footage and reportedly did pretty good even at the age 40. I am very sure Joe Louis would have beaten him. But we’ll never know.

      One thing it is useful to remember is that Ali’s peak was around the time of his last fights before his suspension. We might have lost seeing two years of his best boxing because of his legal problems. Everybody in the 1970s admired his courage and resourcefulness in the ring. But nobody with an informed opinion, including the fans, thought he was as good in the 1970s as he had been in the 1960s.

      Uninformed fans who trying to stretch the prime years of a politically useful athlete seems are just a pain.

      • Ali was a great champion, but he was only “The Greatest” because he said so. He lost to so many mediocrities, like Leon Spinks and Ken Norton, that ranking him higher than Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, and Jack Johnson is problematic. And how about Joe Frazier? They fought 44 rounds, and Frazier gave as much as he took. And Larry Holmes, in his prime would have given Ali, in his prime, headaches. Larry had a harder jab and a better right hand. Ali had the faster hands and better chin. It would have been a tossup. I’m not sure Ali would have beaten Lennox Lewis either.

  20. So I assume you voted for Gore and Kerry over G.W.Bush. You did, right???

  21. Junebug Spade Says:

    The great thing about this country is that people are free to disagree. It never ceases to amaze me how some people–white people in particular–are quick to judge Ali and say “coward”, “draft dodger” and “un-American.”

    My father joined the Air Force in 1965 and went to Viet Nam. He left the military in 1968. Pops is originally from eastern North Carolina…historically and arguably the most backwards and racist part of the state. In fact, when he went home in 1968, George Wallace won the presidential vote in my father’s voting district. At the same time, NC also boasted the largest number of active KKK members in the country. After NOT getting a hero’s welcome and after three years of uneven menial employment, my dad re-enlisted…and made a CAREER out of it. He’s never had a problem with Ali. Neither have any of the many black military men that my father served with. Ken Norton and Leon Spinks both served in the Marines, and they had NO PROBLEM with Ali not serving. Neither did Mike Weaver. I’ve never heard Bonecrusher Smith or Ray Mercer make an issue of it either.(I know BOXING, too, and because of my dad and Ali, I got started at a very young age).

    I’ll share some of my father’s thoughts with you, though. When my dad got out, Ali’s exile was just beginning. What my dad found interesting is that many of the same [white] people who were so gung ho about the war and calling Ali a traitor were sending their OWN kids to college or having them join the National Guard. The poor whites and blacks were the ones who were getting drafted and most didn’t have an escape card. These folks didn’t have the luxury of going to private high schools like Cardinal Hayes, and most had no chance of going to Hunter College or any other college after high school because they didn’t come from families with money. Like a whole lot of white people, you speak from a position of privilege without even realizing it.

    He’s told me that these were some of the same kids who used to throw urine at him from their school bus on their way to school while he was WALKING to his school. Their parents were the same people who refused to hire him for jobs he was qualified for AFTER he came home from Viet Nam. He did get hired as a busboy at the local country club, though. Great job for a “hero” and “true American”, isn’t it?

    When Pops finally retired in the early 90s, he went back home for some un-Godly reason, a place where time had stood still. The country was in the midst of the first Gulf War, and all the good white folks in NC were tying yellow ribbons and waving flags, saying “We support our troops.” Yet these same white folks couldn’t/wouldn’t hire him for jobs he was extremely qualified for.

    As far as the Ali’s status as a minister goes, white folks like yourself always talk that “religion of hate” mumbo-jumbo. I don’t adhere to any faith, but atrocities have been committed in the name of MANY religions. In THIS country, Christianity is the big offender. It was used to wipe out the indigenous people, it was used to justify the slavery and subjugation of people of African descent here, and most of those KKK members I described above wouldn’t hesitate to describe themselves as God-fearing Christians. So if a black person grew up during the era of defacto segregation, was called out of his name by racist whites, whose mother cleaned white people’s house, went to inferior schools, used inferior public accomodations, and/or had bodily fluids hurled at hime by white people, why would it be wrong for that person to join a “religion of hate?”

    The military has been a great institution in helping move our country forward through its social ills and challenges, but one thing I’ve learned in my life is that many people bring their issues into the military, and some people never get over them. We were overseas for most of my childhood, (in fact, most of that time was in Italy) and I got to see my share of white American racists. My dad often ran afoul of senior officers who were from the deep South and raised during the Depression because they thought he was uppity.

    I would say Ali IS a hero. How many people in our society have ever given up EVERYTHING for what they believed in. Athletes and entertainers today DON’T stand up and speak out the way that Ali did. Those who dare to so are told to “Shut up and play ball.” Ali gave it all up. Michael Jordan, for example, has never stood up and said, “Young black men, don’t kill yourselves over a pair of sneakers with my name on them.”

    Now let me ask, though, since you brought it up: did you ever think it was unusual that someone who barely graduated high school and was initially declared unfit for military service because of it could all of a sudden be declared “ok”? I’ve come to the conclusion that Ali is probably dyslexic or had some other undiagnosed learning disability (they didn’t test for those things then…especially not among poor and black people).

    • You’re right. It is great in America that people can agree to disagree. And that’s because hundred of thousands of people in the military , of all colors fought for that right by serving in the military.

      And of course, we continue to agree to disagree.

      BTW – Cardinal Hayes, hardly a luxury school, as you say, is in the Bronx – in the midst of a virtual war zone of crime – and an hours’ ride, each way, from the Lower East Side of Manhattan where I grew up. In 1961, my father, an uneducated immigrant from Sicily, who could not read or write (He wrote an “X” for his name), was making 60 bucks a week in his new job at Con Edison. Our rent was 60 bucks a month in a Little Italy tenement – six flights of stairs up and down. Heat only in one room, the living room. The tuition at Carinal Hayes was $15 a month, which my father took a side job cleaning bail bonds offices on Baxter Street, to pay.

      LaSalle Academy is on Second Street and Second Avenue, a mere 15 minute walk from my home. But the tuition there was $35 a month, which my father could not afford. So I schlepped on the subway back and forth for four years because my father could not afford to send me to LaSalle, a school which I had made with flying colors.

      As for Hunter College, in 1965 it was a free college. But because my mother had passed away, and my father had gotten sick, I could not go full time. I had to work to have a roof over my head and to eat. I worked days at Met Life and went to college at night. However, to avoid the draft, you had to take 15 credits a semester. I was killing myself to take 9 credits a semester.

      So I joined the Navy.

      So don’t give me any bull of being a white person of privilege. I guarantee you I grew up a lot poorer than you did.

      • Junebug Spade Says:

        Well, I appreciate your story. The experience is still light years from my father’s experience. I’ll say that growing up working class in NYC in the 50s and 60s is not quite as tough as growing up black in the rural South at the same time. No private high schools, no community colleges, and no “colored colleges” in the eastern part of the state. No college period if you weren’t from money or a superior athlete. Nothing but a future in the cotton and/or tobacco industry. The miltary was a way out. So, whether you want to admit it or not, there WAS some privilege in your experience.

        As for me, thanks to my father, yeah, I did have a pretty great experience growing up…nothing like what he had. I’ve never denied it. That’s the way he wanted it.

        Again, we’re free to disagree. I’ve laid out my position as to white I disagree with your position. Feel free to take me to task on MY position.It seems to me that you were only concerned with the part where I made reference to your personal experience, but had no comment about my observations about American society over the years.

        On another note, Pops also shared another anecdote with me. While he was Viet Nam, an older Viet Namese gentleman asked him what he was doing there. My dad replied something to the effect of, “I’m here to do my job.” The older man came back with something along the lines of, “You fight for a country that is unwilling to fight for YOU? A country that has no respect for you? You shouldn’t be here.”

        If it was that clear to that older man over there, why would it NOT be clear to any black man over HERE?

      • Joe Bruno Says:

        I was not comparing my experience to your father’s. I was comparing mine to yours. You obviously, thanks to your father, grew up in much better economic conditions than I did.

        And you last sentence “If it was that clear to that older man over there, why would it NOT be clear to any black man over here?” contains faulty logic. You’re assuming an older Vietnam man knows how it is to be a black man in America. He has no clue.

        I know it’s harder for a black person to make it in America, but not for the reasons you think. You had a wonderful father; black kids today mostly don’t even know their father. The disintegration of the black family unit is the problem now.

        You arguments are valid for when your father grew up, but not now.

        Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and he grew up poor with no father and an absentee mother.

        If he can make it, anyone can make it, black or white.

  22. Junebug Spade Says:

    The great thing about this country is that people are free to disagree. It never ceases to amaze me how some people–white people in particular–are quick to judge Ali and say “coward”, “draft dodger” and “un-American.”

    My father joined the Air Force in 1965 and went to Viet Nam. He left the military in 1968. Pops is originally from eastern North Carolina…historically and arguably the most backwards and racist part of the state. In fact, when he went home in 1968, George Wallace won the presidential vote in my father’s voting district. At the same time, NC also boasted the largest number of active KKK members in the country. After NOT getting a hero’s welcome and after three years of uneven menial employment, my dad re-enlisted…and made a CAREER out of it. He’s never had a problem with Ali. Neither have any of the many black military men that my father served with. Ken Norton and Leon Spinks both served in the Marines, and they had NO PROBLEM with Ali not serving. Neither did Mike Weaver. I’ve never heard Bonecrusher Smith or Ray Mercer make an issue of it either.(I know BOXING, too, and because of my dad and Ali, I got started at a very young age).

    I’ll share some of my father’s thoughts with you, though. When my dad got out, Ali’s exile was just beginning. What my dad found interesting is that many of the same [white] people who were so gung ho about the war and calling Ali a traitor were sending their OWN kids to college or having them join the National Guard. The poor whites and blacks were the ones who were getting drafted and most didn’t have an escape card. These folks didn’t have the luxury of going to private high schools like Cardinal Hayes, and most had no chance of going to Hunter College or any other college after high school because they didn’t come from families with money. Like a whole lot of white people, you speak from a position of privilege without even realizing it.

    He’s told me that these were some of the same kids who used to throw urine at him from their school bus on their way to school while he was WALKING to his school. Their parents were the same people who refused to hire him for jobs he was qualified for AFTER he came home from Viet Nam. He did get hired as a busboy at the local country club, though. Great job for a “hero” and “true American”, isn’t it?

    When Pops finally retired in the early 90s, he went back home for some un-Godly reason, a place where time had stood still. The country was in the midst of the first Gulf War, and all the good white folks in NC were tying yellow ribbons and waving flags, saying “We support our troops.” Yet these same white folks couldn’t/wouldn’t hire him for jobs he was extremely qualified for.

    As far as the Ali’s status as a minister goes, white folks like yourself always talk that “religion of hate” mumbo-jumbo. I don’t adhere to any faith, but atrocities have been committed in the name of MANY religions. In THIS country, Christianity is the big offender. It was used to wipe out the indigenous people, it was used to justify the slavery and subjugation of people of African descent here, and most of those KKK members I described above wouldn’t hesitate to describe themselves as God-fearing Christians. So if a black person grew up during the era of defacto segregation, was called out of his name by racist whites, whose mother cleaned white people’s house, went to inferior schools, used inferior public accomodations, and/or had bodily fluids hurled at hime by white people, why would it be wrong for that person to join a “religion of hate?”

    The military has been a great institution in helping move our country forward through its social ills and challenges, but one thing I’ve learned in my life is that many people bring their issues into the military, and some people never get over them. We were overseas for most of my childhood, (in fact, most of that time was in Italy) and I got to see my share of white American racists. My dad often ran afoul of senior officers who were from the deep South and raised during the Depression because they thought he was uppity.
    I would say Ali IS a hero. How many people in our society have ever given up EVERYTHING for what they believed in. Athletes and entertainers today DON’T stand up and speak out the way that Ali did. Those who dare to so are told to “Shut up and play ball.” Ali gave it all up. Michael Jordan, for example, has never stood up and said, “Young black men, don’t kill yourselves over a pair of sneakers with my name on them.”

    Now let me ask, though, since you brought it up: did you ever think it was unusual that someone who barely graduated high school and was initially declared unfit for military service because of it could all of a sudden be declared “ok”? I’ve come to the conclusion that Ali is probably dyslexic or had some other undiagnosed learning disability (they didn’t test for those things then…especially not among poor and black people).

  23. KingChris Says:

    58,000 americans lost their lives in Vietnam. What did they lose their lives for? They were not defending American Freedom? They were sent to meddle in Vietnamese affairs. A huge foreign policy blunder where thousands of young men were drafted (with no choice of their own) to die for nothing. What has the vietnam war accomplished?

    How can anyone look back at it and then say Muhammad Ali made a mistake by declining to be drafted to fight an imaginary enemy.

    African American faced more racism and oppression in the United States in 1960-1973 yet your asking these young men to sign up to fight a group of people that has done no harm to them ever in their lives.

    Blind Patriotism can be a very dangerous thing. God gave us a mind and brain to evaluate what is important in life. He gave us the ability to use sound judgement and not let government entity decide what is best for yourself.

    Ali had the intelligence to realize that. God rest his soul.

  24. Elvis Presley went when Uncle Sam called. Did his time in the Army and never complained. The King of Rock and Roll was more of a man than the so called “greatest”

    • And reportedly, Presley’s addiction to pills started in the military when his sergeant gave the men in his unit uppers so they could stay awake on all night patrols along the fortified border, aka the Iron Curtain. Presley stood up and did his duty and refused the special treatment he could have obtained. He could have spent his tour in special services entertaining the troops.

      Ali could have done the same, wearing the uniform, boxing exhibitions and entertaining the troops.

      Life is not easy for the common man. That’s what Elvis and Ali both were, common men who made good thanks to a talent. They were personable Southern boys and both, though glib talkers, at the bottom of it not so sharp intellectually, more clever than actually bright in sense of being able to learn some advanced subject. Isn’t there some concordance in their fates in spite of everything. Elvis dead at 42. Ali at 42 with pugilistic Parkinson’s. In the great picture, one way another that’s what happens to a common man. Especially, that is what happens when he strikes his own path. Elvis takes his special services gig, he never becomes an addict. Maybe. Ali takes his special services gig. He retires early. He lives a healthy life into old age. Maybe.

      Two guys who came to a fork in the road, and took it, that’s a little joke, a Yogi Berra joke. And gained a belovedness in the eyes of the world’s masses they would not otherwise have had. But suffered a tragic fate. Or a fate that some would call tragic. I understand the ambiguities, but I’m willing to see it that way.

  25. TERRY ADAMS Says:

    Ali was not a “draft dodger” — draft dodgers hide in basements or run to Canada. Ali defied the draft, confronted it via the system and lost his case.

    Muhammad Ali should never have had to fight that draft notice — it should have been rescinded as he would have been absolutely useless to the military and an extreme burden to anyone charged with commanding him in their unit. And what, we can give myriad deferrals from the draft for every other reason under the sun EXCEPT for an Olympic Gold Medal winner and the World’s Heavyweight Champion…who would have never served any real purpose in the military other than posing for pictures and signing autographs?

    The simple truth is that the overwhelming vast majority of celebrities don’t serve in the military and the few that do are kept out of the way of the real operations of it. And there’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if the 22 year-old Cassius Clay that put Sonny Liston on his ass had been WHITE…there’d have been 500 government officials giving 500 reasons why America’s Golden Boy was far too important to be sent off to the military.

    And as a white military veteran myself, please let me remind you all that our FOUNDERS were not exactly what you might call “conformists,” either.

    • Then explain Elvis Presley. He went into the military. Of course, he was kept out of harm’s way, but your statement that “if he had been WHITE…there’d have been 500 government officials giving 500 reasons why America’s Golden Boy was far too important to be sent off to the military,” borders on the ridiculous. I could name 50 more WHITE celebrities who went into the military and served with distinction. Jimmy Stewart and Ted Williams were war heroes as fighter pilots during WW 2. Yet, Joe Louis, a black man, at the same time – same – war – was given the celebrity treatment in the military, fighting exhibitions in military camps.

      • Elvis absolutely was not kept out of harm’s way He refused special treatment. At one point he did night patrols along the fortified border and at another time served as a driver in West Berlin. He was introduced to stimulant drugs, uppers, during his tour of duty in Europe.

  26. Gregory Delgado Says:

    I’m a Vietnam Vet, drafted in 1968. The heroes are the men who served and died for our country. But in todays world, draft dodgers are now heroes.

  27. I never had much of an opinion of Muhammad Ali until my father (who is a Vietnam Vet) told me he had converted to Islam just to avoid being drafted.

    My initial thought was disgust because I was raised to take responsibility and to be a patriot and to do for my country when it had done so much for me.

    Why is that such a hard concept for people to understand?

    I couldn’t wrap my head around why anyone dodge the draft, except someone who was afraid, selfish, essentially a coward. I’ve known people that say if the draft was brought back they’d rather go to jail than be sent to die for no reason. To go fight in a fight they felt wasn’t their fight (like Ali claimed wasn’t his). I say to these people, if you don’t at least try and help take a stand against whatever force you’re being sent against now, it may very well be at your home front where you have no choice but to fight for survival. Where it won’t matter if you’re a draft dodger or a patriot or not. All that will matter is survival period.

    So no, I’ve never considered Ali to be any type of “hero” or “greatest” or any sort of role model anyone should look up too. I’m sad for his family for his years of illness and his recent death it is surely hard for them and in that aspect his death is sad. And as the writer of this article Joe points out, Ali is his opinion was a nice guy, that’s enough for some but not for others.

    • You’re right on the mark. Scifiwoman2001. I liked Ali personally, and I knew him pretty well. But what he did in the 60’s was wrong, no matter how some people try to rationalize his actions.

  28. James Lyons Says:

    Joe Bruno AMEN

  29. Alvin Bost Says:

    Joe

    Thank you for your article. Today, June 6, 2016 I informed so
    E of the young people ( less than 30) where I work of the draft dodging dats of Ali. I also mentioned Hanoi Jane in the conversation. Some were surprised others denied it, some wanted to explain and rationalize it. Like you, I was there, my life interrupted by Vietnam, relatives and friends died in Vietnam. No one wanted to be there. Our country needed us, and our honor made us go, not the draft. Does anyone remember “honor”. Thanks again.

  30. Rick Melnick Says:

    With all due respect, Mr. Bruno, your argument is fallacious. No one can ever repay you for the sacrifice you made in serving your country. You, and others like you, were/are noble and heroic. There’s no debating that.

    On the other hand, there is likewise no debating that the rights of African-Americans were shamelessly violated in the years up to and including that war. They were treated like dirt. Many still are. Not able to use the same bathrooms, drinking fountains, stay in the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants as white people. The list of abhorrent violations goes on and on and on.

    There are times when some men are in a position to use their standing to bring about change. To point out the obvious even when so many would rather turn their heads or lower their eyes and say nothing. If your rights were thus trampled on – in your own beloved country – would it not seem ironic to you that that same country would feel justified in sending you abroad to defend the rights of the oppressed in a different country?

    Patriotism aside, this defies logic. It makes no sense.

    I love my country. Had I been of age – had like circumstances arisen, – I would have done the same thing that you did. Many African-Americans served with you and deserve the same honor and accolades as, I hope, you have since been given for your service.

    But do not disparage this great man for standing up for what he believed in. For standing up for the downtrodden in his own country. For defying the hate that did (and sadly still does) exist for the black man.

    God bless you for your service. But that service does not give you the right to judge other men who followed their own paths – and made a difference, abeit a different difference than the one you chose to make.

  31. People who have nothing else to offer go to war… Ali had much more to offer so he didn’t go…. When was the last time a president was in the front lines?

    • George Bush the Elder was a decorated WW2 War hero.

    • Gregory Delgado Says:

      Hey Me, When you say people who have nothing else to offer go to war…. You’re absolutely wrong! Those who gave their life for our country never got the chance. cassius clay is a hero to all draft dodgers. In todays upside down world, draft dodgers and traitors are heroes.

  32. Revionist History. I will have to remember that one. I wanted to puke last night, watching the glorification of a draft dodger. It is personal to many of us, Vietnam was a life changer. Has the passage of time created a vacuum, where everything is filtered from the leftist point of view?

    If Ali was 21 now, would he say he has no quarrel with ISIS? Pussy is right.

  33. A grate boxer yes .A hero not at all.

  34. Money gets you out of ecerything

  35. Dave Cutillo Says:

    He didn’t dodge the draft; he refused to go. He accepted the legal consequences. America has a long history of civil disobedience, and Ali’s refusal to murder innocent people at the behest of the government was as American as apple pie. Blindly obeying authority is hardly an American tradition.

    “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain

    • You’re parsing words. Refusing to be inducted when drafted into the Armed Forces is dodging the draft.

      You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

  36. Deputydog. Says:

    Thank you for reminding everyone that Ali was a “Draft Dodger”.

  37. Nicholas Says:

    Thank you for posting this. Ali was a draft dodger and this should always be remembered.

    • K. Clifford Says:

      OK, believe that if you want. But be fair. Honest. Joe Bruno admits he dodged the draft too. He says he didn’t have enough college credits to “avoid the draft,” Bruno deliberately “decided to jointhe Navy to,avoid being drafted into the Army.” And he concludes Ali “chickened out.” What a coward, who just chose a different path of cowardice, and holds himself out as a hero because his “life was put on hold.” Gee, Joe, sorry for the inconvenience, compared to thousands who died or suffered permanent disability. How dare you compare yourself to them and criticise one who had a moral objection to putting his life on the line, as opposed to your inconvenience. Me, I was drafted out out of law school and served my two years in the Army, ’69-71, while you were floating on your ship. I was inconvenienced too, but don’t believe I am better than others as you do.

  38. Excellent description of the loudmouth Cassius Clay, a draft dodger and coward; no admiration for Clay who reaped the benefits of living in America but sold his soul to the devil and has American blood on his hands. Brave Americans were dying in Vietnam while Clay was living the high life stateside like a true coward. No honor is due this man; he’s in the same category as Jane Fonda but at least Fonda had the decency to apologize.

  39. Aside from the draft saga, Ali treated Joe Frazier shabbily and not in any way like an honorable man ought to treat a true friend. Even if Frazier hadn’t loaned Ali money when he was pretty much broke from being unable to fight there was never reason to call Frazier the racially loaded names he called him. The fact is that Frazier had loaned Ali money he needed and despite that Ali still verbally demonized him.
    I am not certain but I seem to remember seeing a piece on Frazier where it was revealed that Ali never paid the loan back to Frazier…any confirmation of that?

    • Joe Frazier summed up his feelings on Ali best during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta where Ali lit the Olympic torch from a pit of fire. When Frazier was asking what he was thinking when Ali was lighting the torch, he said, “I was thinking I’d like to see him fall into that fire pit.”

      I knew them both, and Joe Frazier was a much nicer, more compassionate human being than Ali.

  40. Thus does one American son avoid Duty to live to a ripe old age, gather the sweetness of partaking, flout the full benefits of Liberty that a Christian society prepared for him, to ultimately die venerated & privileged with his family cared for in perpetuity – while another takes his place to die ignominiously, dutifully – perhaps heroically – anonymous, uncelebrated, his family line staunched forever, his grave untended & his passing unwept.

    Rest in Peace Unknown Soldier – True Champion – you deserved better Brother.

  41. Tom Cotton Says:

    OUTSTANDING READ!!
    Yes, I am a Vietnam Veteran, USMC
    YES, he was a great boxer,
    But STILL A DRAFT DODGER!!
    He’s NO HERO IN MY BOOK AND
    WHEN HE RECEIVED THE METAL OF
    FREEDOM FROM PRESIDENT BUSH
    I ALMOST BECAME ILL !!!

  42. KingChris Says:

    Joe I respect your bravery in serving our country.
    But i have a burning question to ask you

    Why do you think it is ok for the U.S government to force people to die over nothing? What has the Vietnam war accomplish? Why do you think it is ok to invade a sovereign land and kill people who have nothing to do with your life or freedom?

    Why can’t Muhammad Ali use his freedom of speech to make an educated and well though out decision regarding his life.

    Becareful of Blind Patriotism is dangerous if one does not use their intellect to ascertain right from wrong?

    • I believe we vote for our government and when they ask us to do something, we do it, no questions asked. It’s not a private citizens job do determine what good or bad. That’s why we elect our government officials.

      The way you pose your questions shows me you’re close minded on this subject, and very possibly anti-American, which has become in vogue in the last eight years.

      You say: “Why do you think it is ok for the U.S government to force people to die over nothing? What has the Vietnam war accomplish? Why do you think it is ok to invade a sovereign land and kill people who have nothing to do with your life or freedom?”

      You entire statement is a false narrative.

      That’s why we elect our government; to make those decisions. If they go against what the majority of the people in this country want, vote them out.

      As for Ali, he didn’t have many intelligent thoughts in his entire life. He had an IQ of 79. He was glib, not smart. He, least of all, had a right to make a decision that goes against what his country had told him to do. Those decision are way above his pay grade, and mine and yours, too.

      Love this country, or leave it, is the best advice I can give to people, like you, who’s mission in life is to make America look like the bad guy.

      Right Comrade?

    • I’m also a Vietnam vet and appalled as well that he got more press than did the veterans who gave their all (yes, in a worthless war) but he should be viewed as a coward for not participating as others did to keep freedom and liberty when asked by your country. Other paid the price for him and his freedom.

      • You nailed the gist of the situation – when your country calls, you answer. Period.

        Otherwise, move to Russia and bring your long john underwear.

        I’m tired of people whining abut “unjust wars.” We vote for the people in our government to make those decisions. If you don’t like their decisions, vote them out and stop complaining.

    • Because his freedom was paid for him when he was called. I didn’t want to go either.

  43. I asked my older brother (Ted) what his thoughts were on the passing of Muhammad Ali ? He said he was a great boxer. My brother fought in vietnam (2 tours) . I remember as a child packing boxes with my mom and sisters with sun flower seed and pinons and other items mailing to my brother in Vietnam .I also have two other brothers (Joey ,Richard )who were station in Germany all at the same time. Can you imagine my parents anxiety and despair to have their three boys over seas fighting and defending out country ? My parents were proud parents and wouldn’t have any other way!

  44. Mr. Bruno:

    I could not agree more on the validity of your piece written above. I worked with a lot of Vietnam Veterans at Chemical Bank from 1988 to 1997 at 270 Park Ave. The information that I could extract from them solidifies what you posted back in 2000.

    Ali was given the opportunity (because of his status) to take a position in the military entertaining the troops for moral support and turned that down.

    BUT, Muhammad Ali was 24 when he was drafted. Predominantly, most males that were drafted were 18 years of age. I read (which I cannot verify) that the statistical percentage of a 24 year old getting drafted into the Vietnam War was one percent! Do you think there was some government payback on the way he was treating our country?

    I would like to get your insight on this.

    Thank you for your insight and of course for your service!

  45. KingChris Says:

    Joe that is very un-american of you delete my post because you disagree with it. I will post it again for the world to see. if you delete than I know your are not for freedom of speech.

    You seem to have a grudge that Muhammad Ali had the intelligence and had the foresight to realize his life was far more important than that gigantic foreign policy disaster known as the Vietnam war. He realized his life is more valuable and it should not be sacrificed to fight a war that will provide no benefit to him, his family or to America on a whole. There is no purpose or point in fighting an imaginary enemy.

    So Joe, are you saying that men should not use their intelligence and foresight to see through deception? That we should blindly follow what ever our government tells us is a duty, even if it goes against your morals and principles? If you served I commend your bravery. but you seem to lack the cognitive ability to think and analyze what it is you are actually being told to do. Blind patriotism is a dangerous thing.

    Furthermore American Freedom was not under attack in Vietnam. In fact the U.S decided to invade that sovereign country and meddle within their affairs. As a result 58,000 Americans are dead for no reason. Many did not even have a choice in the matter as they were drafted and face jail time. They all died in vain fighting an imaginary enemy.

    AGAIN WHAT HAS THE VIETNAM WAR ACCOMPLISH? 58,000 AMERICANS DEAD? FOR WHAT PURPOSE???? other death, destruction and chaos.

    Intelligence and foresight is amazing thing. It has saved countless lives and it will continue to do so.

    Muhammad Ali is more celebrated today and will be more celebrated going into the future than you or anything any U.S soldier has done in Vietnam. Because Americans realize greatness and they hate injustice.

  46. impresario999 Says:

    Joe, you’re a jingoistic hot-taker who doesn’t understand conscientious objection. So you’ve got all that going for you.

  47. Well written and well written

  48. Thanks for the sanity. All of these networks (including FOX News) are so quick to praise him as a great american now but they seem to be victim of the revisionist practices. There is just no room for the truth anymore. Up is down, black is white. So sad…

  49. KingChris Says:

    why you keep deleting my post Joe

    You seem to have a grudge that Muhammad Ali had the intelligence and had the foresight to realize his life was far more important than that gigantic foreign policy disaster known as the Vietnam war. He realized his life is more valuable and it should not be sacrificed to fight a war that will provide no benefit to him, his family or to America on a whole. There is no purpose or point in fighting an imaginary enemy.

    So Joe, are you saying that men should not use their intelligence and foresight to see through deception? That we should blindly follow what ever our government tells us is a duty, even if it goes against your morals and principles? If you served I commend your bravery. but you seem to lack the cognitive ability to think and analyze what it is you are actually being told to do. Blind patriotism is a dangerous thing.

    Furthermore American Freedom was not under attack in Vietnam. In fact the U.S decided to invade that sovereign country and meddle within their affairs. As a result 58,000 Americans are dead for no reason. Many did not even have a choice in the matter as they were drafted and face jail time. They all died in vain fighting an imaginary enemy.

    AGAIN WHAT HAS THE VIETNAM WAR ACCOMPLISH? 58,000 AMERICANS DEAD? FOR WHAT PURPOSE???? other death, destruction and chaos.

    Intelligence and foresight is amazing thing. It has saved countless lives and it will continue to do so.

    Muhammad Ali is more celebrated today and will be more celebrated going into the future than you or anything any U.S soldier has done in Vietnam. Because Americans realize greatness and they hate injustice.

    • I did not delete anyones post unless they used curse words. Or said something so vile, I didn’t want it on my blog. Some I deleted for using curse words or slurs in describing Ali.

  50. Again, learn your history. After scoring a 78 on a 1964 Army IQ test — “I said I was the greatest, not the smartest” — Ali was classified 1-Y: “Not qualified under current standards for service in the armed forces.” Two years later, as the war continued to escalate, the Army lowered its minimum score for service, and Ali was reclassified 1-A.

  51. By the time he was classified as 1A, he was a N.O.I. member. Ali never dodged the draft; he opposed it, accepting the legal consequences without any attempt to evade them. He didn’t flee to Canada or enroll in college to obtain a deferment. From the moment he learned of his induction, Ali stood firmly in the proud tradition of civil disobedience, saying, “Just take me to jail.” Takes more balls to decline a racist governments offer to use you a dancing monkey to recruit more young brown people, lose your ability to earn a living and potentially face jail time. That’s courage. Just being a step and fetch it for a government and a people that don’t even see you as their equal is the easy way out.

  52. I just think you all are mad that the most recognizable and beloved American on the planet was a Black Muslim.

  53. No sane black man should have fought for this country pre civil rights act. White America sent them to die in every war to secure the “freedoms” of other people only to have them come home and not have any of those freedoms. The real cowards are the black men that went to Vietnam to kill and die for a racist, oppressive government. All you tea baggers are the first ones picking up guns prepared to fight the federal government but when a black man does it peacefully, he’s the “coward”. Again. I think it gets under y’alls skin that the most recognizable and beloved American worldwide was Muhammad Ali. A Black Muslim.

  54. I don’t know why Joe Bruno is so bitter. Joe, have you ever studIed something called the “just war theory.” This is the sound way to evaluate if the war is morally acceptable. If it’s not, you have the moral right to refuse to serve. Not only did Ali have the moral right, he also had the LEGAL right as eventually determined by the Supreme Court.

    I would say, Ali used his celebrity to promote this idea…….because of his status, no doubt the federal government felt they had to fight against his claim, otherwise thousands upon thousands would follow his example.

    My own brother, served in Vietnam. I explained to him in the past (he died of glioblastoma in 2013) that even if the U.S. was involved in war profiteering by means of an unjust war, THIS DOES NOT DIMINISH HIS MILITARY SERVICE, NOR THE HONOR AND DISTINCTION WITH WHICH HE SERVED.

    Now, if we are sad that Ali was permitted to go unpunished at the same time WE had to serve, this does not make him a coward. But maybe it does say we are ENVIOUS. Envy is sadness at the good fortune of another or gladness at his calamity. Thomas Aquinas basically taught that envy is a form of hatred……….this is really bad, lethal stuff.

    While Muhammad (Cassius Clay) Ali paid by losing his title and
    3 1/2 prime years of his career, President Kennedy paid with his life (most likely) for making known his intention to have all U.S. personnel out of Vietnam by the end of 1965.

    And around 58,000 of our family members and/or other members of our generation paid with their lives.

    Let us not dishonor Muhammad Ali in death. I pray for his soul, and for all of us that we let go of the hatred , ugliness and prejudice that have so marred our history.

    God bless!

    Dan

  55. KingChris Says:

    I do not know how elected officials like Richard Nixon or George W Bush sleep at night. The blood of thousands of American Soldiers is on their hands. These men send our young men away to fight wars that provide no freedom, safety or anything to America. Look at Iraq, back in 2002 a secular country where Muslims, and Christians lived together. Until the United States invaded the place, toppled the leader and created chaos there. ISIS exist as a direct result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 50 years of foreign policy blunder after blunder after blunder that only leads to death and destruction.

    Worse many of those who died in Vietnam did not have a choice they were called on to fight a non enemy that posed no threat to them or United States.

    I applaud Muhammad Ali for his intelligence and foresight in recognizing the U.S Government deception. He is a shinning example of how life is precious and the lives of the middle class and poor young american men are not expendable for elite interest and the military industrial complex.

    • You obviously are not a veteran or patriot. No one disagrees with you about how terrible it is to fight other countries civil wars with an excuse to stop the advance of communism, fascism and so on. But Ali was a coward looking for a way for me to serve for him. He could have gone as a Muslim Priest or some other objection to fighting.

      • KingChris Says:

        I am trying to understand your mindset.
        If you admit that is it terrible to fight other countries civil wars with the excuse to stop communism. Then why do you think it is ok for Muhammad Ali or anyone to lay their life down on the line for something that is against their beliefs.

        Communism exist throughout the world. Those who are against find the means to organize a rebellion and spring an uprising.

        A man has one life to live why do you feel he must throw it away because the U.S Government decides to beat the war drums? Especially when it concerns people who have no impact on that man’s life

  56. Melanie Says:

    joe, have you ever heard of free will? Ali was a hero of people and stood up for himself and what he believed in! He knew his own mind and did not let himself be coerced or manipulated by government officials or school yard name calling to go and fight an imaginary enemy!

    It is every human being’s right to say no and it was your choice to serve in the Vietnam war! You or any other group of people have no right in the world to enforce another human to fight and take the lives of a soldier just like yourself that was manipulated just like yourself in the name of Patriosm! For a someone that believes that they are a civilized person who has their freedom I find the comments made against Ali backward and retarded! Being forced to go to war and kill and be killed is NOT FREEDOM!

    What did the Vietnam war achieve? Why should Ali or anyone else have had to given their life in vain and for who? Why should he and any other soldier be victim to a depopulisation plan?

    It was his free will to choose not to take another life human life for a war that he intelligently and rightfully knew had no sense! How could Commuism in a country the other side of the world affect the United States? Who manufactures weapons and profited from this war and others like it? It is of only great sadness that more young men had not stood up and refused to fight what was undoubtedly a pointless war!

  57. As long as you add Bush and Cheney to this list then I’m good to go!

  58. Anita Cleary Says:

    Great article! The most audacious thing this man Ali did besides draft dodging 4 ex wives was turning his back on Jesus ….thinking he was greater than God Himself. He is paying the price now but only God knows if He repented on his deathbed or not. God asks forgiveness of all of us so for your sOul sake forgive and ask for mercy for this not so great man who was really a coward and lived his life like the fool he always was. His death as s fool or not is a mystery. So God have mercy on the soul of this fool.

    • Anita, Ali was certainly a fool for letting the Black Muslims and Don King steal all his money. In 1984, he was flat broke. As the vice president of the Boxing Writers Association, I had to comp him and three other people in his crew,for airplane and hotel expenses for him to attend the Boxing Writer’s Dinner in 1985 New York York City. He got an award that night “The James J. Walker Award – For Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.”

      After he got the award, he pulled me on the side and thanked me for the airfares and hotel rooms. Truthfully, he was turned down by the then-Preident, Barney Nagler, and when I found that out, I had a fit. Barney used to comp several rooms for him and his pals the every Boxing Writer’s dinner. Drinks and food too. I made a few threats, and I got Ali the money for the airfare. In fact, I made the reservations myself for the plane.

      Then, the next day after the dinner, I get a call from one of Ali’s crew at the hotel who told me the two rooms weren’t paid for by the Boxing Writers. I got the manager of the hotel on the phone and used my personal credit card to pay for the rooms. Then I hunted down Barney Nagler, shook him a bit, and got my money back. I can’t tell you what I told him, but it wasn’t nice.

      Around 1986, Ali married Lonnie Ali, who organized her husband’s finances and trademarked the name “Muhammad Ali” She also kept the Black Muslims away, who still had their hands out. Now she has several businesses, that long after he’s dead, will still be earning money for his family.

      God Bess Lonnie Ali. She was a true angel to her husband.

      • KingChris Says:

        That is very sad. Muhammad Ali gave his life to boxing, and the people around him where not there for his best interest.

  59. Bekah1982 Says:

    Draft dogger!!! Did he seriously think the men, someone’s baby boy, really wanted to go? Some didn’t return home! He was and will be remembered as the draft dogger who thought his life was more valuable than those who lost their lives! Or those who went to fight as a symbol of patronage

  60. Rick Melnick Says:

    I watched and listened to Ali’s Memorial Service on Friday. What can we learn in beholding the thousands there in person and the millions who attended from afar?

    Love triumphs over hatred. It triumphs over, bigotry, jealousy, derision and rancor. Love triumphs over cynicism, greed, deceit, and hubris. It triumphs over intolerance, selfishness, and obstinance.

    Let those with eyes, see. Let those with ears, hear.

    In the end, Love conquers even death.

  61. Joe Bruno
    You are 100 percent correct, great boxer but that’s it ! He was big coward and a big mouth that was not polite at all. A big time draft dodger, he should have been thrown in jail or kicked out of our country.

  62. Oliver t. Stewart Says:

    Idiot, black americans fought in numerous wars for America and never received equal protection of the law …if the founding fathers had a right to commit treason against England and shed blood over taxation without representation then any black in American can look at our treatment after the revolutionary war, the war of 1812,
    the civil war, world wars one and two and reasonably ask why does this country feel entitled to draft me, i have never received equal benefits, why risk my life.

  63. Oliver t. Stewart Says:

    If ali was a coward what were all the white politicians and military people who refused to fight to end discrimination after blacks died in every war???
    How many times have black people fought and died for America??
    When did America fight for us.

  64. There’s only one word I have to say to you and that is thank you because I grew up when every day the news was filled with Muhammad Ali. To me is just like most Muslims very hypocritical and you told the truth and I just say thank you thank you for your service to this nation.

  65. I don’t recall any Viet Cong invading the US, do you?

    Bet you didn’t care that Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Quayle, Gingrich et al, avoided serving and in Bush’s case going AWOL.

    To you, questioning authority is evil, right? To me People like Muhammad Ali and others who refused to go to Vietnam and harm those who never harmed us are the REAL heroes…not hawks like you and your ilk.

    “No Viet Cong ever called me n****r” Ali spoke the truth and you hated him for it!

    • Scott Levinson. Wrong. I never hated Ali. Personally, and I knew him well, I like him a lot.

      But he screwed up not accepting the draft. He listened to the Black Muslims, and he paid dearly as a result.

      Everything Ali said concerning the war was fed to him by creeps like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. In a way, he was brainwashed. He admitted as much later in his life.

      In case you don’t know, and obviously you don’t, we got into the Viet Nam War too stop the spread of communism. Was it a good enough reason? Above my pay grade, and your pay grade to decide.

      Enjoy the Trump administration. Maybe he’ll finally smarten up guys like you who seem mad at the world.

      If the don’t like the USA, try Cuba, or maybe even Russia. They’ll straighten out your butt, and fast.

      God Bless America.

  66. James Marshall Says:

    I so agree. I just googled him being a real coward for refusing to be drafted and ended up here.

  67. Well put and well written. This needed to be said. Thank you!

  68. John Kradoska Says:

    Right on Bruno I agree totally. Thank you

  69. Chuck Halnan Says:

    Hi Joe: Well written column, with my only nit to pick that the first Ali-Frazier fight was in March, 1971

  70. Joe Bruno was a joke America always search for that great white hope Ali was a man of his word and i resecpt him for that. To me your name and word is all you have to stand by he was the Greatest in my eyes vietnam war was wrong and unless war is about money yes America is the Greatest country you can live the land of milk and honey. Also they never bring up Trump dodge the draft 4 time now thats cowardly. Ali was a icon he made black the thing to be he was not only the greatest boxer he also was a actvist. Give resecpt where resecpt is do.

    • Robert I respect your opinion. But I don’t agree with it entirely. I didn’t like the Vietnam War either, but my country called me and I went. I didn’t do a number of things other people I knew did, including moving to Canada to avoid the draft.

      I’m working on an Ali bio as we speak, and even I don’t realize the racist things he saids in the 60s. Horrible racist comments. OK, he was in his early-mid 20s, but the Black Muslims controlled his entire life. He was deathly afraid of them, especially after they killed his friend Malcolm X. So he parroted their racist viewpoints.

      The Black Muslims played Ali like a violin, and took nearly all of his money, too. It was only after Elijah Muhammad died in 1976, that Ali broke away from them. His last two fights, where he got destroyed by Larry Holmes and even Trever Berbick, Ali only took because he needed the money. Those beatings absolutely contributed to the Parkinson’s Disease he was inflicted with later in his life.

      I knew Ali pretty well after he retired. I had dinner with him many times at the Downtown Athletic Club in NY City. He was just beginning to slur his speech around 1984. I liked him a lot, but that doesn’t change what he said and did early in his career. In my book I give the good along with the bad.

      Sadly, I know certain people don’t want to hear the bad about Ali, only the good. He was a human being, and he made mistakes. As a journalist for more than 45 years, I can’t ignore one and only write only about the other. I think my book is balanced. It should be out by the end of June. I’m on the 4th edit. I’ll do one more then send it to my editor for a final review.

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