Sports champion Muhammad Ali's refusal to fight in the Vietnam war (1957-1975) stemmed from the strong degree of racism he felt pervaded throughout America during the 1960s.

The boxing legend was so infuriated by the ubiquitous segregation throughout his homeland, he viewed the American government as more pernicious than the guerilla militia Viet Cong who were fighting to overthrow the South Vietnamese regime.

Ali's daughter RASHEDA explains, "I now understand his anger. A lot of it was in response to the racism of that time.

"America wanted to send him into the army to fight in Vietnam, but he thought, 'Why should I fight those people over there when I can't even sit down and eat at restaurants in my own country?' That was the sixties.

"He had to ask himself, 'Who's the real enemy? The Viet Cong or the establishment in America?'"

24/11/2004 17:29