Here's What's Inside the FBI's File on Muhammad Ali

Bureau kept tabs on the boxer in 1966
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2016 10:58 AM CST
Here's What's Inside the FBI's File on Muhammad Ali
In this March 29, 1966, photo, reporters surround Muhammad Ali at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens after he won a unanimous decision over Canadian George Chuvalo.   (AP Photo)

The FBI kept an eye on Muhammad Ali for a period of time in 1966, according to newly released documents posted on the FBI's website. In the documents, the FBI insisted that Ali himself was not under investigation, but that the Nation of Islam was—and Ali was of interest to the bureau because of his involvement with the group, the New York Times reports. The documents, some of which were previously classified, were released after conservative group Judicial Watch sued to obtain them. They refer to the Nation of Islam as an "all-Negro, semireligious, antiwhite" organization. Ali later converted to orthodox Islam.

Included in Ali's 142-page file was information on the late boxer's ties to the Nation of Islam from FBI informants, as well as newspaper clips (even a gossip item) and other publicly available info. One memo deals with the captain's uniform from the Nation of Islam's paramilitary wing that Ali wore; the FBI also kept tabs on disputes between Ali and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. More personal details, including Ali's divorce and even traffic tickets he received, were also included in his file. Another memo centers on Ali's refusal to be drafted into the US military, which led to his heavyweight title being stripped from him, Reuters reports. Ali discussed the controversy in a speech at a mosque in 1966, blaming the "white man," per an FBI memo included in his file. More documents are expected to be released next year. (More Muhammad Ali stories.)

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