top of page

Cassius Clay Now “Muhammad Ali”

Mar. 14, 1964 - Cassius Clay arrived in Chicago last night for a meeting with “my honorable teacher, the honorable Elijah Muhammad,” reported the Associated Press.

Clay wore a pin signifying his membership in the Nation of Islam. He said the sun, moon, and star designs on the pin represented freedom, justice, and equality.

“I want freedom and equality,” said Clay. I don’t believe in violence unless I am attacked. I am no leader. I am a humble follower.”

A reporter asked Cassius whether he was going to adopt the symbolic “X” as part of his name, as Malcolm X and some other Black Muslims have.

“My name is Muhammad Ali,” he said. “Clay is a slave name, but I will continue to use it for fighting purposes.”

Later, on a local television show, he offered to fight former champion Floyd Patterson in a winner-take-all bout. Clay said he would give the purse to the Black Muslims if he won.

“Patterson could give the purse to the Catholic Church if he is the victor,” Clay said.

Clay said he would let the fight go 10 rounds. “I’ll play with him for 10 rounds. He’s been talking about my religion. I’ll just paw him. Then after I beat him, I’ll convert him.”

The champion said, “A little fellow like that doesn’t belong in the ring with me.”

Clay weighed 210 pounds for his fight with Sonny Liston. Patterson weighed 194 pounds when he fought Liston last year. Liston knocked out Patterson in the first round in each of their two fights.


bottom of page