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Cassius Clay Ordered to Report for Selective Service Exam

Nov. 8, 1963 - Cassius Clay, who is signed for a heavyweight title fight with Sonny Liston, has been ordered to report for a selective service physical examination on Nov. 21. Clay confirmed the order today but said, “Looks like Uncle Sam wants to miss out on the tax money from 15 million dollars, don’t it? Well, that’s his lookout. When the time comes for the examination, I’ll be there.” If he passes, Clay could be called into service late in December, but his backers say they will seek a four-to-six-month deferment. “We don’t want Clay to have something he is not entitled to,” said Bill Faversham (right), a spokesman for the group. “But we feel that this is an extenuating circumstance. If his entry into service were delayed a few months, it would give him his big opportunity.” Clay’s title fight with Liston was set for early February, and some predicted it would bring an $8 million gate including closed-circuit television. The Louisville contender, who will be 22 on Jan. 17, could go into the National Guard or the reserve, but Faversham said he had checked and found that some Guard units would have no openings for four or five months. A draft board spokesman said a recent decree by President Kennedy which exempts married men has caused accelerated drafting of single men like Clay. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Bob Nilon, principal promoter of the fight, said: “We are confident the U.S. Government is too beneficent not to grant Clay a four-month deferment so he can make the most of the greatest opportunity in his life — to fight for the world heavyweight crown and the wealth that goes with it.” Nilon, who said he had spent 5½ years in the Army during World War II, “four of them overseas,” emphasized: “If his country was in a crisis now, I’m sure Clay would go into the Army immediately, and we would urge him to. As it is, after the February fight, whether he wins or loses, he can be inducted.”

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