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New Orleans Cancels Telecast of Clay-Liston Fight

Feb. 24, 1964 - The telecast of the Liston-Clay heavyweight championship fight took a knockout blow in New Orleans today, even before the foes laced on their gloves. Two theaters in the city announced they were canceling the telecast of the fight tomorrow night. They are the Loew’s State and the Saenger theater, both on Canal Street, and both of which have never opened to a racially mixed audience. The theaters said: “In view of Sonny Liston’s feelings as set forth in his weekend statement, and the laws of Louisiana, which we are advised are incompatible, we regret that the closed-circuit telecast has been canceled. Refunds will be made at the box office.”

The decision to cancel the telecast came today after a meeting at which it was revealed that Liston would not allow the telecast in the New Orleans theaters if they had segregated seating. However, the fight is still scheduled to be shown at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans. A Federal judge recently ruled that the Auditorium could legally be racially integrated.

The supporting card for tomorrow night’s fight is led by Dave Bailey of Philadelphia, who will meet Bob Foster of Washington in a six-round heavyweight bout. Dave Russell of New York will meet Cody Jones of Detroit in another heavyweight six-rounder, and Otha Brown of Miami will fight Jesse Bowdry of St. Louis in a light-heavyweight match. Rudolph Valentino Clay, Cassius’s brother, will fight Chip Johnson of Naples, Fla., in a heavyweight four-rounder. In a standby light-heavyweight bout, Alan Harmons of Kingston, Jamaica, will take on Leotis Martin of Philadelphia. Bailey and Jones were Clay’s sparring partners, Martin and Bowdry sparring mates for Liston.


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