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Ali’s Rejection by Army Proving Controversial

Apr. 2, 1964 - New York’s two U.S. Senators have received several dozen angry letters demanding to know why Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, was not inducted into the Army. Senator Jacob Javits has received about 50 letters, mainly from New Yorkers, complaining that the heavyweight champion should be wearing an Army uniform even if he failed the mental examination. Senator Kenneth Keating has received similar letters.

The Senators are replying that the Army has insisted Ali legitimately flunked the test and was not faking. Most of the letters received by Javits were from parents who think Ali is “smart enough” to make money and write poetry and should be toting a rifle.

Keating has long advocated a revision of the draft laws. He has called for a Presidential commission to study the regulations thoroughly. He believes the Ali case supports his proposal for a draft law review to determine whether the draft is “the best way to raise the necessary manpower” for the armed forces.

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