I love boxing
The image of a
Black muslim as the world heavyweight champion disgraces the sport and the
nation. Therefore, CASSIUS CLAY MUST BE BEATEN
Coming away from
the very disappointing—and in many ways shocking—second Sonny Liston-Cassius
Clay heavyweight title fight in Lewiston, Me. last May, I listened to some
pretty harsh comments about it and about the sport of boxing in general.
Many of those who
had made the long trip to Lewiston for the one-minute fiasco insisted that
Liston-Clay had killed boxing. Many openly charged that it was a fixed fight,
and former Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney suggested that Liston's purse be
held up pending an investigation.
following such a totally disappointing title fight was not surprising. But not
long afterward, when tempers had cooled and a longer-range view could be taken
of Clay's one-round knockout of Sonny, a more rational appraisal of the entire
heavyweight boxing picture was possible. I was put forth as Clay's most logical
next opponent, largely because of the popular decision I had won over George
Chuvalo at Madison Square Garden, and the match was eventually signed for Las
Vegas next month.
I think my fight
with Clay is one the boxing public wants to see—and should see. But I do not
agree with many of the things written and said about it. I realize that
sports-writers and publicity men like to play up various angles on every big
fight. But one would think, from some of the things I've read, that I will not
only be trying to win the heavyweight title for the third time, but fighting to
save boxing as well. You could get the idea that the entire sport depends on me
and that if I, as some sort of homemade Sir Galahad, do not defeat the villain,
Clay, boxing will most certainly die. That is nonsense. Boxing does not need
me, or anyone else, to survive. It is most presumptuous, I think, to suggest
that a sport almost a century old could stand or fall on what one fighter does
or does not do.
On the other hand,
and I feel very strongly about this, boxing most certainly could use a new
image right now. I say it, and I say it flatly, that the image of a Black
Muslim as the world heavyweight champion disgraces the sport and the nation.
Cassius Clay must be beaten and the Black Muslims' scourge removed from
I have much
respect for Clay as a fighter, but I lost a lot of respect for him as a person
when he joined the Black Muslims, particularly when he gave them credit for
helping him win the championship. Cassius has made no secret of his devotion to
Black Muslimism. He boasts of it, parades and flaunts it whenever he can. He
constantly raises racial issues. By calling me a "Black White Hope" and
by several other ill-advised and intemperate remarks, he has continually
damaged the image of American Negroes and the civil rights groups working on
their behalf. No decent person can look up to a champion whose credo is
"hate whites." I have nothing but contempt for the Black Muslims and
that for which they stand.
Aubrey Barnette, a
Muslim official who left the movement, wrote, "The Muslims, no less than
the Ku Klux Klan, want to keep the Negro in his place." He charged that the
Muslims' alleged programs for education, economic uplift, moral rehabilitation,
family harmony and brotherhood were all myths. "The Muslims are all talk
and no action," Mr. Barnette said. "They can condemn, complain and
criticize, but cannot deliver on any of their promises. To the Negro, they have
been another foot on the back . . . another slave master."