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He defended his title twice in the sparkling new Astrodome in Houston, part of a flurry of seven bouts in less than a year.Revered by many at his death, Ali was equally reviled at that time.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said it was important for black athletes to stand with Ali, to show he had support within his community.Ali lost the heavyweight title and three years of what would have been the prime of his career during his forced exile from the ring.None stand taller than Ali.The Associated Press used his birth name, Cassius Clay, in the story that fateful day in April 1967 in Houston. But as he stood with 11 other inductees, the U.S. government called upon Muhammad Ali not once but three times to take a step forward for induction in the U.S. Army.Ali wanted little more than to be the heavyweight champion, and to be free to practice his religion.Indeed, Ali would have gone to prison for his beliefs, though during much of the three years in exile he seemed just as concerned with making a living as he did with changing society.
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