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Muhammad Ali Plans International Tour

Apr. 21, 1964 - Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, heavyweight boxing champion of the world, said today he is packing his suitcases for an overseas trip which will be climaxed by a visit to the Holy City of Mecca.

“My first stop will be Cairo, Egypt,” said Ali, “where I have 100,000 admirers. Then I’ll go to the Holy City, where I will walk around the Black Stone seven times. I don’t know exactly what that means, but they tell me it means something. Then I’ll take the pilgrimage and, when I’m through, I’ll have another name. It will be Muhammad Ali Hajaz. That means more than being heavyweight champion of the world. That’s something that is eternal and everlasting. God will be watching.”

The heavyweight king, who shocked the world by wresting the title from Sonny Liston in February, said he has purposely been evading the limelight in recent weeks. “I’ve been going around, talking to the little people — in the alleys, on the back streets, in the slum sections,” he said, his normally loud and boasting voice little more than a subdued whisper.

“I never tell them I’m coming. I never tell them I’m going. I just show up. I shake hands with them and talk to them. I was in Boston Monday, tomorrow I may show up somewhere else. In all these places, I leave everybody with a clean feeling. That is because I am a clean man — with no bad habits and no hate in my heart.”

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