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WBA Seeks to Take Clay’s Title

Mar. 22, 1964 - The World Boxing Association began immediate steps today to take the world’s heavyweight championship title away from Cassius Clay on the grounds that he is a “detriment to the boxing world.”

Ed Lassman, president of the WBA, said in Miami that he had cabled the 20-member executive committee of the WBA, asking for their vote on removing the title which Clay won from Sonny Liston February 25 in Miami Beach.

In New York, Clay responded to the action in typical fashion. From his Harlem hotel, he said: “That’s one way you might get me whipped. I hope they [the WBA] won’t act like a coward and take it away from me just because they have the power. One thing is certain: I won’t lose my title any other way. I’ll fight three men — yes, three — on the same night. And if one of them is big enough to whip me, he’s the champion. I’d like to fight Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston and Doug Jones or Eddie Machen on the same night.”

Lassman told reporters: “I am certain the title will be vacated.”

Clay, after winning the title, acknowledged he was a member of the Black Muslims. He said last week he would be known as Muhammad Ali.

Lassman said today: “Clay has proven himself by his personal action as a detriment to the boxing world and has set a poor example for the youth of the world.”

Lassman said if the title were vacated that the WBA’s world championship committee would decide the process for selecting a new champion.

“I would say the rankings for April 1 will list only eight men, not 10 in the heavyweight division,” Lassman said. “The two missing would be Clay and Liston.”

Removal of the two, Lassman said, would leave Doug Jones as top-ranked heavyweight boxer, followed by Ernie Terrell and Eddie Machen.

As for Clay, he called himself the savior of boxing, adding: “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’ve never been caught stealing. I don’t run around with women. I don’t carry pistols.”


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