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From The Archives
From the Archives: The Whisper That Walloped ‘The Greatest’
by Eric Williamson

Muhammad Ali and Professor Stephen Saltzburg

Muhammad Ali visited the class of then-UVA Law Professor Stephen Saltzburg in 1988.

It’s hard to take out a heavyweight boxer, but on Jan. 26, 1988, the late Professor William J. Stuntz did just that to Mohammed Ali.

The following Friday, the Virginia Law Weekly chronicled the incident with the three-time heavyweight champion, who visited the Law School to discuss U.S. v. Clay. The U.S. Supreme Court case centered on Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, and his failure to report for military service in the Vietnam War on conscientious objector grounds.

Ali and SaltzburgStuntz’s class followed Stephen A. Saltzburg’s Criminal Procedure class, where Ali had spoken and was still signing autographs when Stuntz needed to begin his session. “Prof. Stuntz had the unenviable task of having to throw ‘The Greatest’ out of his classroom,” the Weekly reported.

The account continued as follows: “‘Excuse me, Mr. Ali, I have to ask you to leave so I can teach my class,’ whispered a very mild-mannered Stuntz. Ali picked up his belongings and began to walk up the stairs, his entourage in tow. Half-way up, the ex-champ stopped and pointed at Stuntz. To the wild applause of the crowd, Ali exclaimed, ‘That man put me out.’”