By Jim O’Neal
In 1960, Cassius Clay won the Olympic Gold Medal in Rome in the light heavyweight division. On this date, Feb. 25 in 1964, he scored a TKO over Sonny Liston and became the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.
Two days later, he announced he had joined an African-American Muslim group, the Nation of Islam, and became Muhammad Ali.
On May 25, 1965, I agreed to drive three of my friends to the Anaheim, Calif., “Theater in the Round” to see the big-screen TV rematch between Muhammad Ali and Liston. They were fighting in Lewiston, Maine. Traffic was bad and we were running a little late.
I volunteered to get four beers at the concession stand while they secured our seats. The service was also a little slow.
Ali knocked out Liston in the first round (officially 2:12), which is still the fastest in heavyweight championship history. I did not get to see the knockout live, but the replays were interesting and the beer was cold. We may have had a second round.
Later, someone suggested to Liston he should try politics due to his high name recognition. His reply is still one of my favorites: “I would rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia.”
Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].