Lot # 2415: 1967 Muhammad Ali Signed Official Draft-Refusal Statement

Starting Bid: $2,500.00

Bids: 25 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "REA Spring 2018",
which ran from 4/13/2018 12:00 PM to
5/6/2018 12:00 PM

Original four-page typed press release issued by Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali following his refusal to be inducted into the U. S. Army in Houston, Texas, on April 28, 1967. Ali has boldly signed the final page of the document in blue ink (grading "10"), with his signature measuring five inches in length. This is an extremely rare document and probably one of just a few surviving examples. It is also most likely the only signed example. This document originates from the personal collection of former news reporter Dan Lovett, who has provided a two-page typed-signed notarized letter detailing its history. Because Lovett's letter is so informative regarding the history of the piece, we have reprinted it here in its entirety:

As a news reporter for KILT radio and McLendon Radio Corporation, I was assigned on April 28, 1967, to cover the proceedings surrounding the arrival of, then World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, for his Texas induction hearing in Houston, Texas. Ali, who had a residence of record at the time in Houston, for tax purposes involving his various title fights in the Astrodome, was thus a registered member of the federal government's Houston draft board. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. by birth, had taken the name Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. Ali failed his original qualifying tests by the U.S. Army in 1966, but the tests were revised in 1967, making him eligible for the draft. On April 28, 1967, at the Houston Draft Board office on San Jacinto Street, Ali refused to step forward each time his name was called. After his third refusal he was informed that he had committed a felony and would be so charged. Leaving the Draft Board hearing, Ali held a brief press conference on the sidewalk outside of the Draft Board office, handing out a four-page release, stating his reasons for refusing the draft. Those of us gathered as members of the press, each received the release. There were no more than 30 to 35 media members in attendance, including Howard Cosell of ABC Sports. Most of those covering the Ali story, chose not to keep the release and either tore it up or tossed it away. Though upset by Ali's decision to refuse induction, I, for some reason, asked him to autograph my copy of the release when he had finished reading it and answering questions of the press. He did so on the last page of the document. I am certain the U. S. Government has a copy of the release, but certainly not autographed by Ali. In addition, I have not been able, for over 40 years, to find anyone who has kept a copy, as I did. I even asked Cosell about it years later, if he had kept a copy and he said no. I am not sure even Ali or the Nation of Islam still has a copy of his release. I find this document to be a part of American history, considering not only its authenticity, but the contribution Ali made as a black man to American life.

The letter, dated March 30, 2012, has been signed by Lovett and is notarized below his signature. We concur with Lovett regarding the rarity of this release. This is the first example we have ever seen. signed or unsigned. For anyone wishing to relive the moment of that day, footage of Ali leaving the Houston Draft Board office and passing out copies of this release can be found on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUmHAktuu-8&sns=em). This is certainly one of rarest and most historically significant Muhammad Ali signed items we have ever offered and one that would be a highlight in any advanced Muhammad Ali collection. The release (8.5 x 11 inches) displays light toning and minor edge tears to the pages. The final page, bearing the autograph, displays a number of moderate-to-heavy creases and a tear in the upper left corner. In Very Good condition overall. Pre-certified by Steve Grad and Brian Sobrero/Beckett Authentication Services. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+.

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