I am a Roman
Catholic. I do not believe God put us here to hate one another. I believe the
Muslim preaching of segregation, hatred, rebellion and violence is wrong.
By preaching such
propaganda and not flatly condemning the murder of Malcolm X, who quit the
Muslims, Cassius Clay is disgracing himself and the Negro race.
I have tried to be
charitable in my judgment of Clay. I have tried to convince myself that he has
been taken in by the Muslims, that he really does not know what they stand for.
I have reasoned that perhaps Cassius is being shown the icing on the cake, and
if he attended some of their top-secret meetings Clay would have nothing to do
with the Muslims.
familiar with Clay's situation have told me during the past year that he will
try to break with the Muslims very soon. I doubt it. I don't think their
leaders would like that—or permit it. Cassius has far too much recruiting value
for the Muslims to let him quit now. The assassination of Malcolm X certainly
must have affected Clay, as it did everyone else in the Muslim movement. I
think all the talking Cassius did—boasting he wasn't going to hide and things
like that—was just for effect. He wanted to show the world he wasn't
It could well be
he is very afraid.
I know I'd be. I
wonder, under the circumstances, if I'd dare to fight. To be perfectly frank, I
have even thought about an assassination attempt on Clay while our .fight is in
progress. If the late President Kennedy can be assassinated, it should not be
too difficult to kill Clay, for he is nowhere near as important as our late
did try to kill Clay while we were fighting. I'm not joking. Two fighters move
around quickly, and if a bullet is fired I might move right into the range and
get killed instead of Clay. If the possibility of assassination has occurred to
me, I guess Clay has thought about it, too.
It has been
strongly suggested by some columnists that Black Muslim strong-arm men
threatened Sonny Liston's life unless he took things easy with Mr. Clay. What
would I do if my life were threatened unless I lost this fight?
First: I do not
believe Liston was threatened. What happened to Sonny in the two Clay fights
seemed fairly clear to me, and I will go into that later. If my life were
threatened, of course I would be afraid. The Black Muslims are capable of
anything. However, they cannot possibly understand one thing. Someday we are
all going to die. And the best way to die is doing something we love. I love
boxing. I may not love the long, tough, lonely hours of training, or being
hidden away. I accept that. But once I am in that ring for a fight I am where I
want to be and doing what I want to do. Nothing in the world—threats, violence
or guns—could make me do anything dishonorable, anything but my best.