How would Ali’s legacy be if he had served his time in the Army?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Holmes77, Aug 8, 2022.

  1. Holmes77

    Holmes77 Member Full Member

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    Would his legacy be different? How bout the heavyweight division how would that have been if he served and was back fighting sooner than the actual ban he received? Not bashing him on this post just wondering how it would have played out.
     
  2. ThatOne

    ThatOne Well-Known Member Full Member

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    He would have never transcended his sport and become a world figure and the subject of hundreds of books, movies, and documentaries. He would have been just another great boxer.
     
  3. Journeyman92

    Journeyman92 Resident Gadfly Full Member

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    He’d still be named Cassius.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2022
  4. steve21

    steve21 Active Member Full Member

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    Hmph ... that has all kinds of consequences extending beyond his ring career. How could he have been such a catalyst for civil rights if he'd just gone with the flow like Joe Louis? Does he go into the Army as a Muslim (not sure if he even could), or does he renounce the religion?

    Outside the ring needs more insight than I can realistically apply, so I'll leave it to someone better qualified

    In the ring - he skips the three year suspension; it's a safe bet they'd keep him somewhere safe - exhibitions, Army Boxing Team, stuff like that. He'd do his enlistment, not even sure how long they were in those days, then back out as a civilian and back to fighting. He would have stayed in better fighting shape, and hit the ground running. He gives Frazier a much better fight a few years earlier, and his run through the best HWs of the 60s and 70s is substantially easier with younger, sharper reflexes and hitting his prime days as a fighter without interruption.

    But he also loses the thing that really made him Ali: that ability to come back again and again, having to reinvent himself - showing guts and resilience that can only come from being tested. The exile did that. He could have caved, quit fighting and became a What-If? We'd never know the true toughness that emerged in wars with Frazier, Norton and Foreman. None of them would ever be easy fights, but certainly less trying with a body that never had a chance to get stale.

    Just my .02 ...
     
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  5. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I do not think so. President Lyndon B. Johnson did not like for anyone to criticize the War In Vietnam, Muhammad Ali was very vocal of his opposition to it, they may have put Ali in the front lines to teach him a lesson for talking out of turn. When Joe Louis went into the Army, he gladly did his part in entertaining the troops, World War II was a different type of war, we were attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7 1941 during Louis's reign as champion, people were eager with patriotism to join the fight. Many people were angered at the Vietnam War, protests erupted in cities, if you were drafted, you had to serve or else face a mandatory sentence of 5 years in prison, it also would be hard to get a job. The Vietnam war like the Korean War, 1950-1953 was a police action on our part against the communist regime of North Korea, no one won much like Vietnam. Ali had a right to his religious choice under the 3rd Amendment of the U.S Constitution. If Ali would have gone, others would have been led to their deaths according to Ali, so he defied the warmongering draft board. Vietnam was lost anyway, it ruined the presidency of President Johnson, he announced on live television on March 31 1968 that he would not seek a second term as our president. Ali felt that life and his belief was far more important against a highly unpoular war that took the lives of brave men and women.
     
  6. janitor

    janitor Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    To ask the obvious question, when would he have left the army?

    I don't understand how the draft worked in that conflict.
     
  7. ThatOne

    ThatOne Well-Known Member Full Member

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    A lot of Muslims have served in our armed forces. It depends on their understanding of their religion.
     
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  8. Holmes77

    Holmes77 Member Full Member

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    I believe he would have been in for 2 years. Correct me if I’m wrong
     
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  9. ThatOne

    ThatOne Well-Known Member Full Member

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    I believe there was a deal on the table where he could have done the Joe Louis thing, i.e. exhibitions but he didn't want to lend his credibility to a war he thought was wrong and get more people killed.
     
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  10. Holmes77

    Holmes77 Member Full Member

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    More than likely that’s what would have happened. He would have done a Joe Louis
     
  11. Holmes77

    Holmes77 Member Full Member

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    I’m also interested in how the heavyweight division would have shaped up if this would have happened.
     
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  12. steve21

    steve21 Active Member Full Member

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    Thank you, I wasn't aware of this!
     
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  13. ThatOne

    ThatOne Well-Known Member Full Member

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    I would add Ali was in the NOI at the time of his draft and a lot of members went to prison rather than serve including if my memory is correct Elijah Muhammad.
     
  14. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    When you reach your 18th birthday, you are required by law to register for the draft, it still stands to this very day. I registered on my 18th birthday on Feb 4th 1977. During Vietnam, they had a lottery system, your number went into this big round globe, much like Bingo, if your numbered group was selected, you had to report to the nearest local draft board. Then you would have to go get your physical, then if you passed, you had to attend the swearing in ceremony conducted by a commissioned military officer, failure or refusal could land you in prison up to 5 years. But I left out that you may be sent a letter from the draft board indicating that you have been drafted. The draft was discontinued by President Richard M. Nixon in 1973 near the end of the Vietnam War. It can be reenacted in case of emergency by a sitting president. Failure to register could result in not receiving any aid such as Medicaid, Food Stamps or College Assistance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
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  15. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Possibly with the Army National Guard, he would have to report to his assigned unit, two days a month, two weeks a year. he would have led people to an unnecessary death anyway into the regular active military service, he was also mistreated for voicing his opinion of that unjust war. The Drill Sergeants would have called him a communist or other choice names.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022