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Cassius Clay Meets the Beatles

Feb. 18, 1964 - Cassius Clay met the Beatles today in Miami Beach, and a good time was had by all. The Fifth Street gym — a bare, sweaty, second-story room in a less fashionable part of town — shook with laughter, screaming, and poetry as the four British entertainers (in search of publicity, according to Cassius) paid their respects to the heavyweight contender.

“Get a load of them Beatles. They look like girls,” said a man with a fat cigar as the four musicians were herded into the gym shortly before 1 p.m. In tight pants and white terry-cloth jackets, the Beatles looked a bit bewildered. “Where’s Clay?” asked one Beatle. “Let’s go,” said another.

The Beatles were imprisoned in a locker room until Clay, pretty as ever, finally arrive, striding into the gym about 15 minutes late. “Hello there, Beatles!” he roared. “Man, you guys are the greatest. The whole world is shook up about you. We ought to do some road shows together. We’ll get rich.”

They all scrambled into the ring. The Beatles dropped down, praying that Clay stop beating them. They then squared off against Clay. Clay picked up Ringo Starr, the littlest Beatle, while the other three Beatles laughed. They swirled around screaming and yelling as half a dozen teenage girls appeared to be fighting to touch the Beatles. The five young men danced and laughed and cavorted like co-conspirators in a gigantic hoax.

A few minutes later, Clay announced that he was so pleased about the visit he had composed a new poem on the spot:

“When Sonny Liston picks up the paper and sees,

That the Beatles came to see me,

He will get angry, and I’ll knock him out in three.”

After a few more minutes of mayhem, the Beatles were reluctantly herded out by a cordon of harassed-looking Miami police.

With the gym cleared, Clay got to work, sparring two rounds each with Dave Bailey and Harvey Cody Jones. “Put the poison on him,” yelled Drew (Bundini) Brown, Clay’s spiritual adviser and assistant trainer. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Oh, beautiful, Cassius, you should see yourself.”

Later, a reporter informed Sonny Liston that the four Beatles had visited Clay’s camp today. “All I’d say is they had five good actors there,” said Liston.





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