13
Jun
09

Muhammad Ali the beginning

Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay

Young Cassius dedicated himself to boxing with fervor unmatched by other young boxers. Indeed, it was his only activity. As a teenager, he never worked. He boxed and trained. He had 108 amateur bouts. According to Joe Martin, Clay set himself apart from the other boys by two things: He was “sassy,” and he outworked all the other boys. The work paid off: 6 Kentucky Golden Gloves championships; two National Golden Gloves championships; two National AAU titles before he was 18 years old. And the son of Odessa, whom he lovingly referred to as “Bird,” and Cassius senior, “Cash,” to everyone, won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1960 in Rome months after his 18th birthday.

Although Cassius returned home to a parade, Louisville was still, in 1960 part of the segregated South. Even with a medal around his neck, Cassius was refused service at a local restaurant.

At the time, Cassius was managed by the Louisville Sponsoring Group, a consortium of wealthy local white businessmen. The LSG, as it became known, put young Cassius with veteran trainer, Angelo Dundee, after failed attempts with the Mongoose, Archie Moore, and a turn down by Ali’s boxing idol, Sugar Ray Robinson.

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