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Clay Takes Army Exam

Mar. 13, 1964 - A drowsy Cassius Clay sprawled on a living room sofa of his home in Louisville this afternoon. The heavyweight champ looked like a man who had fought 15 grueling rounds. What he had done this morning, however, was take a second U.S. Army test. The return bout with a 2½-hour mental examination left him fatigued.

“The test was tough,” he said, “tougher than the first one. Man, I’m tired! But I did my best — I don’t want anybody to think I’m crazy.”

Clad in a black suit, the 22-year-old fighter took his Selective Service aptitude tests — and a routine physical — at the old Nichols Army Hospital in Louisville. He expects to learn the results in about a month.

What bothered him most about the tests, Clay said, was the mathematics.

“I remember one problem went like this,” he said. “There are 12 bushels of apples. They cost $10 each. You buy them, but before you do, you take a third of the apples out of each bushel. How much do you pay for the apples? After scratching around 10 or 15 minutes on paper — I never was much good at figuring — I think I got the answer. But then a guy came by, took the test out of my hand, and gave me another one. When I looked down on the test he took from me, there still was a whole long row of questions I didn’t answer.”

What are Clay’s plans if he is accepted by the Army?

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” he said. “I’ll be in New York for business the next three weeks, and then I hope to tour Nigeria, other parts of Africa, and the Middle East. I told the Army people, and all they said was to check with them on the passport.”

Clay was cooperative with reporters and photographers — to a point. He posed for pictures but refused one showing him wearing an Army hat. “I ain’t in no Army yet,” said Clay.

He returned home after the tests, slept a few hours, and arose in time to pack his bags. He had an early evening flight to Chicago.

“I’m going to Chicago and talk to Elijah Muhammad [leader of the Nation of Islam] about this Malcolm X business,” said Clay.

Malcolm X, former companion of Clay and Black Muslim leader, recently broke with the Black Muslims to form his own black nationalist group.


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