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Ring Magazine: Muhammad Ali Snub in 1966 Was an 'Injustice'

Ring Magazine: Muhammad Ali Snub in 1966 Was an 'Injustice'

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston. (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
 

By    |   Friday, 09 December 2016 09:04 AM

The Ring boxing magazine has retroactively named Muhammad Ali fighter of the year – for 1966 –  after declining to recognize the late heavyweight champion that year because of his objection to the Vietnam War and connection with the Nation of Islam.

The well-known boxing magazine's website made the announcement Thursday, saying that editors today now see the injustice of not extending the honor then.

Ali died in June at 74 after he battled Parkinson's disease for 32 years, according to CNN. Ali, who first won the world heavyweight title in 1964 as Cassius Clay, joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name the same year.

His career was stalled for 3½ years in the 1960s when he refused induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was convicted of draft evasion, noted CNN.

"Muhammad Ali was the best fighter of 1966, as he went 5-0 (with four knockouts) in defense of his heavyweight title," said The Ring. "… The editors of The Ring magazine at the time acknowledged Ali's preeminence that year, stating clearly that no one could touch him."

"However, they made an unusual decision when it came time to name the magazine's annual Fighter of the Year: They announced that Ali would be denied the award because of his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army and his association with the Nation of Islam."

No fighter was given the award that year and when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ali in 1971 as a conscientious objector, the magazine never reconsidered its 1966 decision.

"The editors at that time obviously felt strongly that Ali, while succeeding in the ring, didn't meet other criteria they deemed important," said current editor-in-chief of The Ring Michael Rosenthal. "But we can see the injustice by today's standards even if we take issue with some of things Ali said and did."

"Bottom line: He was punished for standing up for his beliefs and his association with a controversial organization, factors that almost certainly wouldn't preclude a worthy candidate from winning a similar award today."

The retroactive honor means that Ali has now been named the magazine's fighter of the year for a record six times. He also won the honor in 1963, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1978.

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Ring magazine has retroactively named Muhammad Ali fighter of the year – for 1966 – after declining to recognize the late heavyweight champion that year because of his objection to the Vietnam War and connection with the Nation of Islam.
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2016-04-09
Friday, 09 December 2016 09:04 AM
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