Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Legend of Cassius Clay

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
On the night of the greatest fight...a poem from The Greatest!

This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
The most beautiful fighter in the world today.

He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
of a muscular punch that's incredibly speed-y.

The fistic world was dull and weary,
But with a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary.

Then someone with color and someone with dash,
Brought fight fans are runnin' with Cash.

This brash young boxer is something to see
And the heavyweight championship is his des-tin-y.

This kid fights great; he’s got speed and endurance,
But if you sign to fight him, increase your insurance.

This kid's got a left; this kid's got a right,
If he hit you once, you're asleep for the night.

And as you lie on the floor while the ref counts ten,
You’ll pray that you won’t have to fight me again.

For I am the man this poem’s about,
The next champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt.

This I predict and I know the score,
I’ll be champ of the world in ’64.

When I say three, they’ll go in the third,
So don’t bet against me, I’m a man of my word.

He is the greatest! Yes!

I am the man this poem’s about,
I’ll be champ of the world, there isn’t a doubt.

Here I predict Mr. Liston’s dismemberment,
I’ll hit him so hard; he’ll wonder where October and November went.

When I say two, there’s never a third,
Standing against me is completely absurd.

When Cassius says a mouse can outrun a horse,
Don’t ask how; put your money where your mouse is!


Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther he'll end up in a ringside seat.

Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius carry the fight

Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room,
It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.

Now Clay lands with a right, What a beautiful swing,
and the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring.

Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can't start counting till Sonny goes down.

Now Liston is disappearing from view, The crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up, Somewhere over the Atlantic.

Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite.

Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.


I am the greatest!


— Muhammad Ali


Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston met twice. Ali won both fights.

The second part of The Legend of Cassius Clay was read the night before the first fight on February 24, 1964 on the TV show, I've Got A Secret by one of Ali's sparring partners.

Ali was a 7-1 underdog heading into the fight while Liston was the most feared fighter in the world at the time. Prior to the first Ali-Liston fight, Ali's prophetic poetry had correctly predicted which round his fights would end an astonishing 12 times.

Days after the first fight, Cassius Clay would announce that he had joined the Nation of Islam and would henceforth be known as Cassius X. Within a year he would come to be known as Muhammad Ali. The Greatest.