No, “POW” does not refer to the sound of a boxer’s punch landing on his opponent’s chin. Rather, in the story of the life of Muhammad Ali, it refers to a more serious chapter which began during the Vietnam War and which is still incomplete. “POW” stands for “prisoner of war” – – prisoners of war to be exact: men who fought for their country and who were either captured or declared missing in action (MIA).

Contrary to popular opinion and to the official position of the U.S. government, since 1973 hundreds of American servicemen were left behind in Southeast Asia as prisoners, abandoned by their country after President Richard Nixon declared “Peace with Honor.” Nixon had sent the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to negotiate terms with the North Vietnamese in an effort to end the Vietnam War. Those terms included the return of all prisoners of war. Unfortunately, in 1973 just 591 prisoners returned home. What happened to the rest has remained a mystery.