A history of presidential pardons in sports, from George Steinbrenner to Brian Urlacher’s shady brother

Photo: AP

This one is kind of a technicality in that Ali was never pardoned by name, even though Trump publicly floated the idea in 2018 before eventually dropping the thought. The greatest boxer of all time had claimed religious exemption from armed service during the Vietnam War, but the feds disagreed, and Ali was convicted in 1967 of draft evasion. “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong,” he said famously at the time. Within two months of that honest, heartfelt assessment, Ali had been stripped of his heavyweight championship, banned from boxing for three years, and shamed in the press. In 1970 the United States Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction on appeal. In 1977, Jimmy Carter issued a blanket pardon for all Americans convicted of dodging the draft — further vindication for Ali’s stand.

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