President Trump said on Friday that he may pardon the late boxing champion, Muhammad Ali.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House as he prepared to leave for the Group of Seven Summit in Quebec, Trump said he was thinking about pardoning someone who was “not very popular.”
“He was not very popular then; his memory is very popular now. I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”
Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. military in 1967 during the Vietnam War, citing religious objections. As a result, he was stripped of his heavyweight title, charged with draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.
Ali stayed out of prison as his case was appealed in the court system. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971. Ali died in 2016 at the age of 74.
“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” lawyer Ron Tweel said in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971.
“There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed,” he added.
If Trump does pardon Ali, it would be his second act of clemency for a deceased professional boxer. The president pardoned the late boxing great Jack Johnson last month.
Trump has already granted clemency to a number people, and told reporters on Friday that “there will be more pardons.” Just this week, he commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 65-year-old woman who had been serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.
Johnson’s pardon followed a lobbying effort by reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who met with Trump at the White House late last month.