About the Project
Immediately after the bout, the new champion proclaimed his membership in the Nation of Islam. His bold stance was praised by his then friend and mentor, Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X. The young champion, he said, was "in a better position than anyone else to restore racial pride to not only our people in this country, but all over the world." Later that year Clay was given a new name by the Hon. Rev. Elijah Muhammad -- Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali's public persona was forged in the 1960s, as the African American pursuit of freedom and equality gripped the U.S. public and the world. Ali transformed himself from a promising young boxer with a quick wit to a controversial world champion, celebrity, and international activist. He remained a devout Muslim whose presence and voice resonated far outside the boxing ring. Liston, who had been viewed as unbeatable before the match, re-fought Ali a year later and lost again, ending his career.
Miami in the 1960s was deeply segregated. Though Clay trained in Miami Beach, he lived in the neighborhood of Overtown, the hub of business, entertainment, political activity, and culture for Miami's black and diasporan community. Overtown was a site of refuge and transformation for the young boxer. Here he screened fight films in his yard for neighborhood kids, met with entertainers and activists like Sam Cooke and Malcolm X, and was introduced to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. Original promotional materials in the press kit were possibly written by Chris Dundee, promoter, owner and operator of the legendary 5th St. Gym, a modest facility that opened in the heart of segregated Miami Beach in 1950. The unsegregated gym became an athletic haven and second home for up-and-coming fighters. Through the expert tutelage of Angelo Dundee, boxers painstakingly learned their craft, while the savvy Chris Dundee managed the professional and promotional side of the fight business. Here Ali would develop his prodigious skills, both in the ring and in publicity. As Ali's fame grew, the 5th St. Gym prospered and became an internationally renowned center of the boxing world. Even with celebrities and fans in constant attendance, the gym remained a modest, unadorned place of business for brothers Angelo and Chris Dundee and their roster of fighters.
On February 25, 1964, Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight crown in Miami with a technical knockout over Sonny Liston in Miami, Fl. These documents are from an original press kit from the Clay v. Liston heavyweight title bout and serve as an illustration of a crucial turning point in American sports history - one that touches on issues of civil rights, religion, and racial identity.