”We were in the hotel watching television, when the phone rang. And it was this kid saying ‘Mr Dundee, my name is Cassius Marcellus Clay; I’m the Golden Gloves champion of Louisville, Kentocky. And he gave me a long list of championships he was planning to win, including the olympics and the heavyweight championship of the world, and then he said he wanted to come up to the room to meet us. I put my hand on the mouthpiece and said to Willie, There’s a nut on the phone; he wants to meet you.’

(Angelo Dundee, who later became his trainter)

…I’m king of the world, I’m pretty, I’m pretty

If there was a man who knew how to live, it is Muhammad Ali, who gave us unforgettable phrases like ‘float like a butterfly sting like a bee’. He wasn’t just a boxer, Muhammed Ali represented a different paradigm: he didnot become what others wanted him to be, he conquered all aspects of life, making his own decisions, choosing his own ways and giving his opponents one hell of a beat.

 After his rise in boxing career, under extreme pressure, he did not fail to express his political views, he did not fail to take a stand against war in vietnam, and he proudly converted to Islam even though he was contniuously attacked by corporates due to this. Most of all, he put a smile on people’s face by singing, dancing and not shutting up. No, he never shut up, because:

”I’m the onliest fighter who goes from corner to corner and club to club debating with fans. I’ve recieved more publicity than any fighter in history. I talk to reporters till their fingers are sore.’

Los Anegeles, Novermber 15, 1962:

Archie’s been living off the fat of the land,

I’m here to give him his pension plan.

When you come to fight, Don’t block the halls and

don’t block the door,

Cause ya all going home after Round Four.

Archie Moore Fell in Four.

Ali vs. Sonny Liston

I have to share the story of this fight, it makes me laugh at how Mohammed Ali ( who was a 22 year old Cassius Clay at this time) handle this fight. His opponent, Liston, a 29 year old, a brute, former leg-breaker for the mafia who dispatched people with a violence that frightened and entranced observers. Clay was seen as all mouth, someone who’d be lucky to make it to the hospital in one piece after the fight.

It was obvius for everyone, a young over-confident boxer about to fight a  boxer who was known to shrink his opponents to just two feet tall and fight like hell.

Cassius must be kidding. If he isn’t he’s crazy to consider entering the ring against a virtually indestructible and demonstrably deadly fighting machine. Clay’s style is made to order for a massacre. (sports commentator)

Clay as a matter of fact, promoted himself even more, infact he made a poem for Liston:

Clay comes out to meet Liston

And Liston starts to retreat

If Liston goes back any further

He’ll end up in a ringside seat.

Clay swings with a left,

Clay swings with a right,

Look at young cassius

Carry the fight.

Liston keeps backing

But there’s not enough room

It’s a matter of time.

There, Clay lowers the boom.

Now Clay swings with a right,

What a beautiful swing,

And the punch raises the bear,

Clear out of the ring,

Liston is still rising

And the ref wears a frown,

For he can’t start counting

Till Sonny comes down.

Now Liston disappears from view.

The crowd is getting frantic,

But our radar stations have picked him up

He’s somewhere over the Atlantic.

Who would have thought

When they came to the fight

That they’d witness the launching

Of a human satellite?

Yes, the crowd did not dream

When they laid down their money

That they would see

A total eclipse of the Sonny!

Clay kept irritating Liston psychologically. As Liston didn’t have a birth certificate and grew up in poverty Cassius said, ‘You’re 40 years old if you are a day, and you don’t belong in a ring with Cassius Clay.’

Liston responded as, ‘I think I’m gonna have to hurt that boy bad’, since he was not a fan of fancy talk.

But realistically Clay was completely terrified by the idea of fighting Liston, so he irritated Liston to the height. It seems all this helped Clay to become mentally prepared for it. Like they say, your brain takes what you say like an order, so say postive things, think postive.

So Liston came into Miami for training, where Ali screamed infront of the reporters ‘Chump! You big ugly bear! I’m gonna whup you right now!” Clay followed Liston’s car, aggravating Liston to the point of pulling off the road, getting out of the car and threatening Cassius, in a cold low voice.

Clay as a matter of fact, had people with him to conveniently pull him away while he shouted ”Come on Punk! This ain’t no joke! Right Now!”

Clay kept sending people to Liston’s training sessions sayin things like ‘Bear Huntin’, ‘March on Liston’s camp’.

During the wiegh in Clay re-entered (after having his turn) into the room, where Liston appeared.

”I’m ready to rumble now,’ he screamed, ‘I can beat you any time chump! Somebody’s gonna die at ringside tonight! You’re scared chump! You ain’t no giant! I’m gonna eat you alive.’ Some people held onto Clay as he seemed ready to attack Liston any moment.

Everyone suggested the Clay needed a psychiatrist.

Clay was fined $2500 on the spot. His pulse rate and heart beat was checked, and what did the doctor find out? ”This young man might be scared to death… If this is his pulse rate at fight time (120 beat/min [normal =54) the whole thing is off.

Ali later said ‘I didn’t want nobody thinking nothing except that I was a joke.’

Nobody could read this kid. He was either the carziest kid you ever saw, or the smartest.

During the fight, Liston tried to catch Clay in the first two rounds and he missed Clay like a Pitcher with a wide fastball. Liston got frustrated. He got out of shape and resorted to an old trick of rubbing a gel on his gloves, which blinded Clay for two rounds.

However, the big ugly bear quit on his stool, after the seventh, avoiding the ignominy of going down in Clay’s redicted eight round.

Mohammed Ali shook the world. However the fight was threatened by promoter’s concerns at the very religious transformation from which Clay drew his strength to hunt Liston down.

Malcolm X was there, to fully support him and to make him believe that his victory was inevitable. That he will win. Later the news broke; Cassius Clay had accepted Islam.

Advertisements