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Cassius Clay to Add “X” to Name

Mar. 6, 1964 - The new heavyweight boxing champion confirmed today that he was changing his name to “Cassius X Clay” to conform with Black Muslim nomenclature. Clay was asked about the change after he had visited Chief S.O. Adebo (right), the Nigerian representative to the U.N.

“My name is Cassius X Clay,” the boxer said in answer to a question. He added: “X is what the slave masters used to be called.”

When Clay was asked whether X would replace his middle name, Marcellus, he consulted briefly with Malcolm X, suspended East Coast leader of the Black Muslims. “This isn’t the time to answer that question,” Clay said. “It will all come out in time.”

Elijah Muhammad, the national leader of the Black Muslims, had a different idea. In a radio broadcast taped today in Chicago and broadcast in New York tonight, Mr. Muhammad said: “This Clay name has no divine meaning. I hope he will accept being called by a better name. ‘Muhammad Ali’ is what I will give to him as long as he believes in Allah and follows me.”

Clay also told reporters that he had not yet received word on the result of his Selective Service pre-induction examinations taken Jan. 24.

He said he was planning a three-week visit to Africa and Asia in two or three weeks but that details had not been settled. He expected the trip to last about three months.

Clay said that his first stop would be Nigeria. Ambassador Adebo said that in inviting Clay to visit the Nigerian mission, he was returning the compliment that Clay paid several years ago to Dick Tiger, a Nigerian, before Tiger became middleweight champion. Adebo said he was appreciative of the advice and encouragement Clay gave Tiger at that time.

The Ambassador also welcomed Malcolm X to the mission. Mr. X has been a regular companion of Clay’s since just after the championship fight, when Clay announced his allegiance to the Islam religion as it is practiced by the Black Muslims.


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