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Clay and Liston Nearly Come to Blows in Miami Gym

Feb. 9, 1963 - Cassius Clay (pictured with Angelo Dundee) and Sonny Liston came close to tangling physically today in an exchange of gymnasium insults. Miami Herald reporter Pat Putnam reported that Liston, in Miami to defend his title April 4 against ex-champion Floyd Patterson, dropped into a gym to watch a workout by Clay, the confident Kentuckian who may be a future Liston opponent. Clay yelled, “Get him out of here, that bum is spying on me.” Liston roared, “What have I got to spy on you for? You’re no fighter.” He then offered Clay $100 a round to be his sparmate. “You get in that ring, and we’ll fight for free right now,” Clay said, but others averted any chance of a physical exchange. The Liston-Clay feud started last November in Los Angeles when they got into a heated debate at a party following Clay’s fourth-round knockout of Archie Moore. “Clay couldn’t lick a popsicle,” Liston told a newsman, despite the fact that Clay was sitting right next to him. Liston then waved his fist in Clay’s face. “This is the atomic bomb,” he growled at Clay. “This is the fist that shook the world. Shake it!” he demanded. Clay shook hands, but he did not like it.

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