In this March 17, 1966, file photo, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali arrives at a Veterans Administration office in Louisville, Ky., to appeal his 1A draft classification. (AP Photo/GS, File)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that he may pardon the late boxer Muhammad Ali.

Ali was convicted in 1967 for refusing to report for induction into the United States military during the Vietnam War. His local draft board rejected his application for conscientious objector classification.

“He was, look, he was not very popular then, certainly his memory is popular now,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave the White House on Friday en route to a Group of Seven economic summit in Canada. “I’m thinking about that very seriously, and some others, and some folks that have some sentences that aren’t fair.”

“I’m thinking about that very seriously, and some others.”

Trump has used his clemency powers to pardon or commute sentences in a string of high-profile cases recently. Those have included the late Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champ.

Ali, who died in 2016, was sentenced to five years in prison. He eventually appealed his conviction, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971 in a unanimous ruling that found the Department of Justice had improperly told the draft board that Ali’s stance wasn’t motivated by his Muslim religious beliefs.

A pardon does not technically erase a conviction; it is an expression of forgiveness from the president that, in most cases, serves to undo the punishment and help the recipient of the pardon restore rights, such as the right to vote.

A posthumous pardon – as would be the case with Ali – is completely symbolic. While a pardon is typically not meant to imply innocence, that is perhaps the signal Trump is trying to send.

Last week, Trump told reporters he is considering pardoning lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a well-timed stock sale, and commuting the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who was convicted in 2010 for trying to sell President Barack Obama’s Senate seat, among other campaign finance violations.

Earlier this week, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving a life term for nonviolent drug-related offenses, after meeting with reality television star and socialite Kim Kardashian West to discuss the case.

“The power to pardon is a beautiful thing,” Trump told reporters Friday. “I want to do people who are unfairly treated like an Alice.”

The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

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