Ali Pleads for Release of American Hikers Held in Iran


Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali has sent a letter to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, asking for the release of two American men being detained on charges of spying, according to The Independent. Ali sent his letter to the Ayatollah in February and made it public to the Associated Press yesterday.

Iranian officials arrested the two American hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, in 2009 in the Zagros Mountains near the country's northern Iraqi border. Last September, Iran released Sara Shourd, who was arrested with Fattal and Bauer.

Ali's letter pleads the Ayatollah to show mercy and compassion for the American detainees. Ali founded the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2003 to “promote respect, hope, and understanding” in the spirit of Ali, according to the organization's Web site.

In May 2010, Outside sent Joshua Hammer to have a look at the situation and the detainees.

–Will Grant

Photo: Ali with Joe Frazier in Philadelphia, 2003. Courtesy of Flickr