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Patterson Tormented by Clay’s Taunts

Mar. 21, 1964 - Floyd Patterson thinks he can beat Cassius Clay.

“I’m faster and can hit harder than Clay,” Patterson said at his camp in Highland Mills, N.Y., today. “Clay is a boxer, and so am I. He doesn’t have the style of a slugger. He’s never slugged in any of his fights. His style is not the kind that’s given me much trouble in the past. So I feel, after having watched some of Clay’s fights on film — including the Liston one — that I can beat him.”

Patterson is generally shy and modest, but Clay’s boasting and his affiliation with the Black Muslims have irritated the former heavyweight champion. Patterson is a devout Roman Catholic and a believer in peaceful integration.

Last night, Patterson was watching television in his bedroom when, suddenly, Cassius Clay was on the screen. Soon, that loud voice was calling Patterson a sissy.

Patterson gazed helplessly at the set for a few seconds. Then he yelled: “If I’m such a sissy, Clay, why don’t you fight me? I’ll fight you for nothing. I’ll pay for your sparring partners.”

Then, turning of the set, Patterson said: “Look, I don’t hate Cassius Clay, but I dislike Cassius X and what he stands for. I couldn’t hate Liston. because Liston only had a police record. So, what’s a record? I had a record too. Cassius X is part of a hate group in this country. He’s not a good example for Negroes. I’d like to fight him so much and feel determined because I’d like to get the championship away from the Black Muslims. I’ve hated the Muslims ever since that Malcolm X speech after President Kennedy’s death, the one about how the chickens must come home to roost.”

Then Patterson said: “This Malcolm X is a pretty sharp fellow. And Clay seems pretty confused by it all. And I say I can beat him.”


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