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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 17th June 2016 > WHEN A GIANT ROAMED THE EARTH


Muhammad Ali was a colossus of sports and culture


ON THE MORNING of September 6, 1960, Cassius Clay was having breakfast with a few buddies inside the Olympic Village in Rome. The night before, Clay, 18, had defeated 25-yearold Ziggy Pietrzykowski of Poland in the light-heavyweight boxing gold medal match, igniting the flame of his magnificent pugilistic career. As Clay sat in the dining hall with a few members of the U.S. contingent, heavyweight world champion Floyd Patterson entered the room.

“Watch this,” Clay told his friends, and then, as recounted in Rome 1960 by David Maraniss, he grabbed a knife and fork and leaped on the table. “I’m having you next!” the brash teenager bellowed at the heavyweight champ as everyone, including Patterson, burst into laughter. “I’m having you for dinner!”

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, died in Phoenix on June 3 at age 74 of respiratory illness and complications related to Parkinson’s disease. Some kings wear crowns. The Greatest simply wore a heavyweight championship belt.

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