An American boxer and pacifist who converted to Islam and refused to take part in the Vietnam War
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (1942—2016), or as he is known, Muhammad Ali, was an American heavy-weight boxer, philanthropist and social activist.
He is considered to be one of the best athletes of the XX century, as he won the Olympic gold medal in 1960 and he was a heavyweight boxing champion three times being his first in 1964. He defended this title 19 times.
It was in 1964 when he decided to change his name to Muhammad Ali, because he changed religions and became a Muslim (he had first been a Christian). Muhammad Ali was the name his mentor, Elijah Muhammad, had given him. In 1967, Muhammad was asked to join the U.S. Army to fight in the war in Vietnam. He refused, even though many people did not agree with his decision. His reason for it was he had no problems with the Vietnamese, and for him it did not make sense to go 10,000 miles away from his home to kill innocent people. As a consequence, he was banned from fighting again for the following years, because even though he could have been exempted from joining the army because of his religious beliefs, he had already mentioned he would join the Islamic holy war. Apart from this, he was also convicted for not joining the forced army. However, he remained free on bail. Nevertheless, it took around 5 years to be completely free. This attitude towards the American society gave example on what it is known a conscious objector. It made many American citizens think.
Muhammad Ali was also known for taking part on the Civil rights movement. With his fame he would talk in front of many people and express his admiration towards black people and the necessity of having a voice and being treated as equals. He shared these ideas with influential people like Malcom X or Martin Luther King Jr.
Muhammad Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by the U.S president George W. Bush. This award is given to those who contributed meritoriously to any national interest of the U.S.
Photo source: https://www.biography.com/athlete/muhammad-ali