Baby Boomer Brash Celebrity

Posted on February 25th, 2013 in 1960s,1970s,Black History & Personalities,Celebrities,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg






“Archie’s been living off the fat of the land.
I’m here to give him the pension plan.
When you come to the fight, don’t block the door,
You will all go home after round four.”


Archie Moore was not a poet: “The only way I will fall in four is by toppling over Clay’s prostate form.”

In 1962, it was billed as a battle of generations – a too-young-to-vote baby boomer upstart vs.a seasoned pro and former champ.

My dad managed to got ninth row tickets. The next day I read that the match had set a new indoor gross receipts record for California.

Former Light Heavyweight champion Archie Moore was a flabby 47 year-old with a receding gray hairline. Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammad Ali, was a super trim, vibrant 20-year-old Olympic Boxing Gold Metal winner.

Moore needed the money. Clay needed the recognition. Odds were 3-1 in favor of Clay, a negative nod to Moore’s age rather than Clay’s unknown abilities.

From the back of the arena, Moore entered first, moving at a modest pace, surrounded by his handlers. He entered the ring between ropes pulled wide apart to give him plenty of room. Clay dashed to the ring like a gazelle, his assistants scurrying to keep place, and did a pirouetting leap over the ropes.

What impressed me most in the match was the restraint Clay showed. He carried Moore (sometimes literally) until the time came to fulfill his fourth round prediction.

Moore commented after the fight that the young baby boomer might give feared Heavyweight Champion Sonny “The Train” Liston “an exceedingly interesting evening” if he ever got the fight. He did and he did, beating the official 7-1 odds against him. Liston had such a reputation that some heavyweight contenders refused to fight him. Ali won the rematch, too. The official odds were still in Liston’s favor for the rematch.

 Ali Knocking Out Liston

Trivia Factoids

Moore had been Clay’s trainer, but Clay left because of Moore’s efforts to change his style, and his insistence that Clay do dishes and help clean gym floors.

Besides being a seminal figure in black history, Ali become one of the great pop culture personalities of the 20th century. In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. He has been called the most recognizable American in the world.

After winning the championship from Liston in 1964, Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

Ali refused induction into the Army in 1966. On the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and took the title away. Other boxing commissions followed suit. A jury found Ali guilty. After a Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He stayed out of jail while the case was appealed. In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the conviction.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, a disease to which those subject to severe head trauma, such as boxers, are more susceptible than average.

He has had four wives and nine children. One is a professional fighter.


Notable Quotables by Ali

~ A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.

~ At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.

~ I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.

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