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The sting of the Louisville Lip
Tex Maule
February 17, 1964
Angelo Dundee's Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach is an inelegant establishment on the second floor of a two story building. It is small, hot and, these days, crowded with spectators who will endure almost any hardship to watch Cassius Marcellus Clay prepare himself, mentally as well as physically, for his February 25 challenge for the heavyweight championship of the world. It costs a dollar to get in. For the same price you can watch Sonny Liston preparing to defend his title at the Surf-side Civic Auditorium some 90 blocks north. The Civic Auditorium is air-conditioned, its decor is Miami modern and its seats are comfortable. But the better dollar's worth is at the Fifth Street Gym.
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February 17, 1964

The Sting Of The Louisville Lip

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"You may have noticed me fighting flatfooted," Clay said. "Who knows? Maybe this fight is going to go 13 rounds or so. Maybe I won't be able to move all the time. Maybe I have to save something." Apparently he had forgotten that he had predicted he would knock Liston out in five rounds.

Clay lives with 10 members of his entourage and three cooks in a big house in northwest Miami. Later, at the house, he said, "Has there ever been anything like this? This championship? All these people comin' to see it? I been talking and saying things and building up and now I'm getting nervous. I worked hard and talked fast and now I got what I wanted. Think of all them planeloads of pretty foxes flying in to see me. Now the time has come for training and fighting."

The next day he took off from training, but the day was not wasted. He gathered his cohorts and repaired to Surfside, where he stood outside Liston's training quarters and put on much the same show he stages at the Fifth Street Gym. He and Budini howled, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," and roared, and Cassius made a dramatic attempt to break loose and go up to the second-floor auditorium where Liston was working. He was restrained—easily—before being persuaded by the courteous and long-suffering Surfside police to leave.

Upstairs, Liston went stoically about his training.

"This boy is getting under his skin," Angelo Dundee had said earlier. "It bugs Liston, all these things he does." If Dundee is right, Liston hides his pique well. Leotis Martin, a reed-thin light heavy who has the painful job of sparring with Sonny every day, says, "He's not mad at people the way he used to be. He doesn't try to kill us every day."

Said Liston, "Clay needs a lesson in manners. Maybe I can help him by beating his brains out. If I can, who am I to stand in the way of progress?"

It may be progress, but it seems a shame.

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