John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their two “bed-ins” for peace 45 years ago, starting this month. Also starting this month, the Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, will host an exhibit remembering the Beatle and his then-new wife as they attempted to use global media interest in anything Beatle-related to get their message of protest against the Vietnam War to the world.
Why is the Muhammad Ali Museum an appropriate setting for the John Lennon bed-in exhibit? The setting makes sense because Ali himself became — two years before the Lennon events and at the height of the Vietnam conflict — the world’s most famous Vietnam War protester. On April 28, 1967, Ali refused to be drafted into the military to serve in Vietnam, citing his religious Muslim beliefs, and famously stating, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” At the time, Ali was the undefeated World Heavyweight boxing champion. But when he refused induction into the armed forces, he was stripped of his title and banned from fighting for another two years, losing the prime of his career.