[IN MY LIFETIME] Henry Louis Gates on Muhammad Ali Beating Sonny Liston

[IN MY LIFETIME] Henry Louis Gates on Muhammad Ali Beating Sonny Liston

The scholar and host of the PBS series "Finding Your Roots" looks back at the amazement he felt watching a young Cassius Clay beat the favored contender

by #teamEBONY, February 23, 2016

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[IN MY LIFETIME] Henry Louis Gates on Muhammad Ali Beating Sonny Liston

Cassius Clay, left, who later became Muhammad Ali, fights Sonny Liston during their heavyweight title match in Miami Beach, Fla., Feb. 25, 1964.

It was when he fought Sonny Liston. He was saying he was the greatest and everybody predicted that Liston would kick his butt and knock him out any minute.



Then when [Ali] beat him in the seventh round, knocked him out on the ropes and said, “I am the greatest!” And then he became a Muslim almost the next day and that flipped people out.

I thought he was cool. I loved him. We weren’t eating. We were in my living room in my house in Piedmont, W. Va., on the little black and white TV set. My father, my mother, my brother and me waiting to see if Sonny Liston was gonna pulverize Cascious Clay! I was 14.

— As told to Shantell E. Jamison


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