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Clay Shows Anger at Post-Fight Press Conference

Feb. 25, 1964 - Cassius Clay seemed angrier than one would expect, but no less elated as he faced the press and cameras of the world as heavyweight champion for the first time. He entered the interview room 20 minutes after his victory. He mounted the steps to a platform with a battery of cameras at the center. He stood there silently, head thrown back, a look of defiance on his handsome, unmarked face. Then came the torrent. “Whatcha gonna say now?” he shouted. “It won’t last one round? He’ll be out in two? How many heart attacks where there? Oh, am I pretty.”

There was no chance to ask questions as the words just poured out. “I beat him bad, and that’s so-o-o good,” Clay continued. “The Bear couldn’t touch me, couldn’t even get a good lick of me. He had liniment on his gloves, I couldn’t see, and still he couldn’t hit me. There’s not a mark on me. You can’t call it a fix because I didn’t stop the fight — the doctor stopped it. Oh, I’m so pretty. Whatcha gonna say now, huh? I watched Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta for eight months — the same fight, over and over. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m too quick for him, too fast, too fast for any heavyweight alive. You newspapermen made it tough on Liston. Don’t ever make a 7-to-1 favorite! Just let me go in even money.”

Publicity men, trainers, handlers, and friends were crowded around Clay, pawing at him, trying to make him keep still long enough to hear a question from the clamoring press corps. Finally, a question could be heard. Did he want to fight Liston again?

“If he wants a rematch, he can have it, but I don’t think he’ll want it,” Clay shouted. “Nothin’ but a fool would want to fight me. No one can beat me. I’m too fast. Liston’s a powerful man, and I just chopped him up. Sonny was not even a match for me, but he must apologize. The man was dirty, and he couldn’t even hurt me.”

Who did Clay want to fight? “I’ll fight any fighter the public wants me to fight,” he yelled, “but nobody can beat me. What about you newspapermen? Where’s justice? Let’s hear it: Who’s the greatest?” A few applauded and called out, “You are.”

At 22 years old, Cassius is the second youngest fighter to win the heavyweight crown. He was the fifth challenger to go into the ring unbeaten and win the title. The others were John L. Sullivan, James Jeffries, Rocky Marciano, and Ingemar Johansson.

“Let’s really hear it, who’s the greatest?” Clay insisted. “All you writers, I’ll give you one more chance, who’s the greatest?” This time, there was a louder cheer.

“Give some credit to Sugar Ray Robinson, all you hypocrites,” Cassius yelled. “You are hypocrites because none of you believed me.”


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