That time I was a total jerk and cheered for Sonny Liston to beat Cassius Clay

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By Steve Newton

So, one of the greatest men who ever lived dies and CTV News Channel, in its FOX-like rush to be first with the BREAKING NEWS, can’t even get his name right.

Not even close.

“Muhamed Ali”.

That’s bloody embarrassing, I must say.

I’ve got my own embarrassing Ali story to tell, mind you. Then again, I was only six at the time of my faux pas. Pretty sure the red-faced graphics person at CTV had a few years on me.

I don’t remember that many things from February of 1964–apart from the Beatles’ invasion of America–but I vividly recall listening to the radio broadcast of the World Heavyweight Championship bout on February 25, ’64. Challenger Cassius Clay was taking on defending champ Sonny Liston, my dad was a big boxing fan, and we were listening to it live on the light-blue (maybe it was green) radio perched on top of the kitchen fridge.

I’d seen some TV footage of Clay leading up to the bout, and I got turned off by his arrogance and boasting. It rubbed my skinny little Cub Scout ass the wrong way, I guess. And also I was football crazy at the time, and my gridiron hero was Sonny Homer–who would help lead the B.C. Lions to the Grey Cup that year.

So I really loved the name Sonny. What the hell kinda name was “Cassius”? I was cheering for Liston.

While Howard Cosell’s colourful commentary blasted from our tinny receiver, one of the greatest upsets in boxing history unfolded. Clay whooped the ex-con’s ass. Then he really started bragging.

The next day Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and the rest is history.

Eventually my pea-sized brain grew to nearly the size of a penny and I came to realize that it’s okay to brag and be brimming with confidence when you truly are, without a doubt, the greatest of all time.

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali.

 

 

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One response to “That time I was a total jerk and cheered for Sonny Liston to beat Cassius Clay

  1. Very fitting tribute to the greatest. When I was 9, (it was early 1971) some older boy asked me who I would root for in a fight between Muhammad Ali and Cassius Clay. I confessed I never heard of Ali. Then he very amusingly told me they were the same person. I guess he thought it was a funny joke.

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