But Ron Tweel, an attorney for Ali, who died in 2016, pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali's conviction in 1971. We spoke with Khalilah Ali - who was married to Muhammad from '67 to '76 - and she was shocked when she watched Trump tell the media he was considering pardoning Ali. presumably for his conviction for resisting the draft in 1971.
Trump told reporters Friday his team is "looking at literally thousands of names" of people who have come to their attention because they've been treated unfairly or their sentences are too long.
November 2009: President Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to boxer Muhammad Ali in the East Room of the White House.
Should Trump decide to issue a pardon to Ali, it wouldn't make much a difference in terms of Ali's record as former President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket pardon to draft evaders who requested a pardon. Ali, who converted to Islam in 1964, cited his religious beliefs, but his local draft board rejected his application for conscientious objector classification.
American heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), training in his gym, 21st May 1965.
"I would get more thrill out of pardoning people nobody has heard of, like Alice yesterday", said Trump, referring to his commutation of Alice Johnson, a woman who served more than 20 years on a first-time drug charge.
Trump has wielded his presidential pardon powers recently in ways that appear meant to dramatize his own complaints of being the victim of a "witch hunt" by USA prosecutors.
On Sunday, he asserted for the first time his "absolute right" to pardon himself, sparking fierce debate and a warning from Republican House speaker Paul Ryan that no one is above the law.
"This was quite a surprise to everybody this morning when we heard about it", he said Friday during a phone interview.