GOTR 1: Scenes 18-23

On this Day: Muhammad Ali shakes up the world, upsets Sonny Liston - Bad  Left Hook

Scene 18

Las Vegas – Sonny Liston is training – medicine balls are being thrown against his chest / enter journalist with a cameraman

Well, here I stand within the training camp
Of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston, the heavyweight
Champion of the world & reputed
To be the division’s hardest hitter
At least since the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis
Was around, so, Sonny, ehm, do you mind
If we ask a few questions

Sonny Liston
Go ahead

I’ve watch’d you work out for about an hour
You look like you’re ready to fight giants
How do you feel

Sonny Liston
I’m feeling very good

How much, eh, roadwork have you been doing

Sonny Liston
I’ve been doing six miles

Six miles a day

Sonny Liston

You think that’s enough

Sonny Liston
Well – I only
Wanna catch him, not set an track record

I see – well, some of the things Cassius
Clay has been saying – well, for example
Yesterday he said when Sonny Liston
Fights Cassius the Great, everyone will
Complement him for dropping you in 8
Do you have anything to say on that

Sonny Liston
The only thing I’ll say is do not get
Your tickets later, because if you come
Later than the first you might miss the fight
Unleashing Saratoga’s on the boy
You can bet your life it won’t get to four

I’d like to get your opinion, Sonny
What dya feel Cassius Clay possesses
In the field of boxing ability
How does he compare, let’s say, to Cleveland

Sonny Liston
Well, I can’t compare them yet
I’d have to fight Clay, but upon that day
{pointing to fists}
Let’s just say it’s these who’ll do the talking

Enter Joe Louis

Hello Joe Louis, how are you

Joe Louis
I’m good

Sonny Liston
Nice to see ya Joe

Joe Louis
You too Sonny


Ladies & gentlemen, this is Joe
Louis, former heavyweight champion
Of the world, reputed to be among
The finest fighters in the history
Of the division – so Joe, have yo seen
Cassius Clay fight

Joe Louis
Yes I’ve seen him box
Once in California, once in New York

& you’ve seen Sonny Liston fight

Joe Louis
I have seen him box also

May I get
Your opinion on what might just happen
On the night of this upcoming contest

Joe Louis
Well, I think it should be a real good fight
Clay’s a good boxer, Sonny punches good
& likes to stop his man all of the time
I think it will be an excellent fight

Do you think Clay will employ the tactics
He’s used on other fighters, when he stabs
& runs & stands & runs & waits & strikes

Joe Louis
I think we’ll see that type of fight from Clay

Sonny Liston
He can run all he likes, but he can’t hide

Do you think he will be running a lot

Sonny Liston
I look for him to run

Well, thank you both
On behalf of all our viewers out there
We look forward to a fabulous fight

Sonny Liston
I’ll do my best, see you in Miami

Scene 19

New York / the Ed Sullivan Show / Sonny Liston & Dick Sadler are in the audience

Ralf Paul
Good evening, ladies & gentlemen all,
Tonight, & live, from the Deauville Hotel,
Miami Beach, the Ed Sullivan Show
Brought to you from Anacin, the headache
Remedy, whose special combination
Of ingredients will relieve your pain
Relax tensions & irritations sooth
& that’s Anacin… & now here he is,
The King of Sunday night television,
Ed Sullivan

Enter Ed Sullivan

Ed Sullivan
Thank you very, very
Much, ladies & gentlemen, thank you Ralf Paul
So, here we are at the Deauville Hotel,
Miami Beach, & what a show tonight
We’ve Gordon Macrae from California
We have the marvelous Mitzi Gaynor
& two comedians from the Deauville
Don Rickles & Myron Cohen, but first
We are very excited to begin tonight
With four of the nicest, swellest young kids
We’ve ever had on our stage – The Beatles
Last weekend, seventy-three million
Americans watch’d their TV debut
& we are delighted to have them back
Let’s bring the boys back on

Paul McCartney

Girls in the audience yell and bounce in their seats for the entire song. Upon its completion, the crowd screamed even louder and wildly applauded as the group bow in unison. They go to shake hands with Ed Sullivan to the cheers

Ed Sullivan
So, boys, the buzz is Beatlemania
Has struck an entire nation, you’ve become
Part of the fabric of our consciousness
I Want to Hold Your Hand’s sold millions
How are you finding your massive success

George Harrison
Its marvellous

Ringo Starr
We’re loving it really

Paul McCartney
& it’s nice to be here, its great

John Lennon
Hey Ed
Eh, Mr Sullivan, sorry, you’re great too

Ed Sullivan
Well, thank you very, very much – but boys
There is one question that I’ve been ask’d to ask
When will you boys be having a haircut

George Harrison
I had one yesterday

Paul McCartney
He’s not lying

Ringo Starr
You should have seen the state of it before

Ed Sullivan
Well it looks good now – ladies & gentlemen
The Beatles

Exit the Beatles – in the crowd Sonny Liston is with Dick Sadler

Sonny Liston
Man are these the same four motherfuckers
That all the people are screaming about
I do not see the blusterfuss at all
They’re just a bunch o’ bugs outta Britain
My dog can play better drums than that guy

Dick Sadler
Man, everyone’s in love with the Beatles
& they really want to meet ya, brother

Sonny Liston
I’m not gonna do it, I’m pulling out
There’ll be no photos of me with sissies

Dick Sadler
But Sonny, it’s all been arranged

Sonny Liston
I’m out
Look, let’s get out of here, I’ve seen enough

Dick Sadler
Alright, man, whatever you wanna do

Exit Sonny Liston & Dick Sadler

Scene 20

Miami Beach’s 5th Street Gym – the Beatles in the ring

George Harrisson
Where is he

Bundini Brown
He’ll be here, boys, he’ll be here

Ringo Starr
We’ve been meeting twenty minutes now, mate

Paul McCartney
Look lads, lets just go, first Sonny Liston
Then Cassius Clay, we’re better than this

John Lennon
I reckon we should just go back to the pool
Get us cozzies on, enjoy the sunshine
While we can

George Harrisson
That’s a top idea, John

John Lennon
It’ll be better than meeting a loudmouth
One could certify was going to lose

He’s here

Ringo Starr

Cassius Clay is coming

Paul McCartney
About time too

Enter Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay
Well, hello there, Beatles!
We oughta do some road shows together.
We’ll get rich!

Ringo Starr
Cassius, nice to meet you

Cassius Clay
You too, eh, what’s your names

Ringo Starr
Well, I’m Ringo.

George Harrisson
I’m George

John Lennon

Paul McCartney
I’m Paul

Cassius Clay
You boys sound funny

John Lennon
Hey, that’s fighting talk in Liverpool, mate

They start comedy scrapping

Cassius Clay
Who wants it first, huh,

Cassius Clay picks up Ringo, then the scrap calms down

Cassius Clay
I heard that Liston refused to see you

George Harrisson
He did, yeah

Cassius Clay
I always knew he was a fool
You guys are cool – when Liston reads about
You boys visiting me, he’ll get so mad
I’ll knock him out in three!

So, boys, listen
We’re gonna take some photographs, OK?

Paul McCartney
Sure thing

John Lennon
How do you want us

Cassius Clay
I’ve got it
Line up in a row, as if you were set
To topple like dominoes to canvas
That’s right, you go there, what’s your name again

George Harrisson
I’m George

Cassius Clay
Well, George, you guys are the greatest
& just like me you’re shaking up the world
This time, why don’t you all lie on the floor

Paul McCartney
Alright mate

Cassius Clay
Hey, you’re Paul, right

Paul McCartney
That’s me yeah

Cassius Clay
You are definitely the prettiest
But you’ll never be as pretty as me
I have had nineteen professional fights
& look, my face ne’er took a single mark
Right, is everybody set

Ringo Starr
I think so

Cassius Clay
Good – alright, squirm, you worms – worms, I said squirm

After the photo the Beatles stand up

Cassius Clay
So, what do you think is gonna happen
When I fight that big ugly bear, Liston

Ringo Starr
I’ve got my money on you

Cassius Clay
Hey Ringo
You aint as dumb as you look

John Lennon
But you are

Following a brief awkward silence, the whole group erupted in laughter.

Cassius Clay
You’re funny
How are ya finding Miami

John Lennon
Its great
Everyone’s been lending us yachts & boats

Paul McCartney
We’ve already prang’d this woman’s speedboat
But she said it was OK

Ringo StarrAlright lads,
Shall we do one, then, & go swimming

George, John, PaulYeah

John Lennon
It was well sound to meet you Cassius
If you’re ever fighting Cooper again
Over there in England, give us a call
We would love to show you around Liverpool

Cassius Clay
Henry Cooper, Henry Cooper, ah yeah
I tripp’d up over his left hook, that time
No, I’ll be honest, that guy hit me so hard
My relations felt it in Africa

George Harrison
Good luck mate

Cassius Clay
You too boys

Ringo Starr
See you later

George Harrison#
Bye, bye everybody

Cassius Clay
Bye bye Beatles
{Exit the Beatles}
So, those are the pretty little sissies
Who are storming America right now
Those four little nerds in terrycloth suits

They are, man, I think that was the first time
Anybody swung a bossy sceptre
About their presence since they first set foot

Cassius Clay
Well how can they compare
With someone who really is the greatest

You really are the greatest, Cassius

Cassius Clay
& all you suckers gonna know it soon
Be honest, who here’s got Liston

Journalist 2
I have

Journalist 3

Journalist 1
Me too

Cassius Clay
Well, on the day of the fight
Miss breakfast, lunch & dinner, for that night
You, you & you will be eating your words

Journalist 4
I’ve got you down to win Cassius

Cassius Clay
Somebody give him a certificate
To prove he’s wiser than everyone else
& hey, the inspiration came to me
Last night, mu muse came on a tingling wing
Wanna hear what she said

Journalist 2
Yeah, tell us man

Cassius Clay
Clay comes out to meet Liston
and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther
he’ll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with his left,
Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius
carry the fight
Liston keeps backing, but there’s not enough room,
It’s a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
Now Clay lands with a right,
What a beautiful swing,
and the punch raises the Bear
clean out of the ring.
Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can’t start counting
till Sonny goes down.
Now Liston is disappearing from view,
The crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up,
Somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought
when they came to the fight?
That they’d witness the launching
of a human satellite.
Yes the crowd did not dream,
when they put up the money,
That they would see
a total eclipse of the Sonny.
I am the greatest !
Right, that’s enough, I am off to get chang’d
& I’ll be back in twenty-five minutes
If you cats wanna cach me train

Journalist 3
We’ll wait

Exit Cassius Clay

Journalist 2
Don’t think the Beatles liked that very much

Journalist 1
Maybe not, but this fight, & last night’s show
& the one up in New York last Sunday,
For me shall mark the start of the sixties

Journalist 4
Bring it on, so far it’s a lot of fun

Scene 21

Miami – the weigh in – Liston is about to be weigh’d – Joe Louis is near him enter Bundini Brown with Cassius Clay, who is wearing a denim jacket saying ‘bear hunting’ inscribed in red on the back, banging a walking stick & screaming

Cassius Clay
I’m the champ, I’m the real champ, where’s he at
I am the biggest thing in history
Are we gonna dance tonight

Bundini Brown
Let’s dance champ

Cassius Clay
I’m the king, I’m the greatest thing ever
Even The Beatles want my autograph
Where is he, where’s that great big ugly bear
With his beat-up-behind-a-dumpster face
Hey Liston, you aint no champ, you’re a chump
You got all these fool’d

Bundini Brown
He’s the champ of what

Cassius Clay
He’s the champ of being ugly, that’s what
He’s so ugly, that when his sweat comes out
It takes one look then runs back in his head

Sonny Liston
Keep talking kid, I’m gonna fuck you up

Cassius Clay
You’re just jealous, everybody can see
I’m tall & handsome as the Sunset Kid
& by far the better boxer, it’s clear
The only thing Sonny Liston can box
Is oranges & grapefruits, even then
He ruins all the fruit, hey Joe Louis
What’s Joe Louis doing in your corner
He was flat-footed like you, Joe Louis
Slow Louis, Liston won’t defeat me, I’m fast
I’m gonna dance

Bundini Brown
He’s gonna dance

Cassius Clay
That’s right,
I’ll be jumping & sticking & moving
Then I’ll clobber with everything I got
I’ll punish the body, bring on a pain
So bad his tears will burn welts in his eyes
Wait a minute, is that Howard Cossel
Is that you, Howard, yeah it is! you’re next
As soon as I’m done with Sonny Liston
I’m gonna be fighting Howard Cossel

Morris Klein
Cassius Clay’s fined five thousand dollars
By the Miami Boxing Commission
For contemptualizing this weigh-in

Cassius Clay
But first things first, I’m gonna get my belt

Bundini Brown
Go in there, brother, & what’s yours retrieve

Cassius Clay
Hey chump, you shouldn’t have show’d up today
Tonight will be your hour of reckoning
There aint no-one on Earth faster than me
You made a mistake you shouldn’t have come
I’m gonna beat you like a dog, like a slave

Sonny Liston weighs two hundred eighteen pounds

Cassius Clay
That’s two hundred & eighteen pounds of dog crap

Doctor, please, take this boxer’s blood pressure
See if he’s in fit condition to fight

Sonny Liston
I’ll need two rounds, the first one to catch him
& another round to finish him off

Cassius Clay
Hey fool, why ya doing the predicting
I’m the only one who does predicting

It says two hundred over a hundred

Sonny holds up two fingers

Cassius Clay
Sonny, you aint nuthin, I’m gonna dance

If, by fight time, his blood pressure’s the same
There’ll be no fight… two hundred & ten pounds
Cassius Clay weighs two hundred pounds

Bundini Brown & Cassius Clay
Let’s float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
Rumble, young man, rumble aahhh

Cassius Clay
I’m the king
I’m the greatest – no-one can defeat me
Tonight, I’m in the glare of destiny
Showing the way to what is rightful mine
I am the champ

Bundini Brown
The true champ

Cassius Clay
I’m the champ

Bundini Brown
Rumble young man rumble – aahhh

Exit Cassius Clay & Bundini Brown

Robert Lipsyte
Oh my god
He is out of his cotton-picking mind

Teddy Brenner
That’s not madness, that’s fear, he’s scar’d to death

Robert Lipsyte
I don’t know, I’m sure he gave me a wink
He’s a PJ Barnum in boxing trunks

Journalist 3
What are you talking about, he aint got
A Chinaman’s chance – so, I’m heading out
On a scouting mission, I’m off to find
The fastest way to reach the hospital
So as not to waste any deadline time
In transit, when, thunderstruck, Clay’s knock’d out

Robert Lipsyte
See you later, Larry

Teddy Brenner
I need a drink

Robert Lipsyte
I’m coming

Howard Cossel
If that was just the weigh-in
Tonight is gonna be some plain of Troy
With Hector & Achilles face to face

Aint that the truth

Howard Cossel
God bless America!

Scene 22

Convention Hall, Miami, the Clay-Liston fight

Howard Cossel
Well, good evening, ladies & gentleman
Another boxing milestone is at hand
In just a few moments a young boxer
From Louisville, Kentucky, Cassius
Marcellus Clay, who’s down, now, in the ring
Here in Convention Hall, Miami Beach
Miami, where he is going to face
The target of his consistent needling
To run head-on into the full punches
Of the heavyweight champ, Sonny Liston
The awesomest ring executioner
Who has dispos’d of his opposition
In the very first round, the last three times
He he has answer’d the bell – & here he is
Sonny Liston now heads down to the ring
With that hooded white robe, carving his way
Thro the golden circle, hundred dollar seats
One hundred & fifty, then finally
The two hundred dollar seats at ringside
The heavyweight champion pounces in
Calm, cool, collected – both fighters are in
Challenger Cassius Marcellus Clay
Twenty-two years old, an unbeaten pro
Nineteen straight victories
& doing the commentary with me

For Theatre Network Television
Probably the most beloved boxer
Of all time, the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis

Joe Louis
Thank-you, Howard, it’s lovely to be here

Ring Announcer
This bout is going to be fifteen rounds
Fighting for the heavyweight championship
Of the world – from Louisville, Kentucky
Wearing white trunks with red stripes, & weighing
Two hundred & ten pounds – Cassius Clay
& from Denver Colorado, weighing
Two hundred & eighteen pounds, & wearing
The black trunks with white trim, the heavyweight
Champion of the world, Sonny Liston

Howard Cossel
Tonight’s referee is Barney Felix

Barney Felix
I want a clean bout, men, in the event
Of knock downs, a man that is down must take
An eight-count, the man that is standing up
Will go to neutral corner, while I
Start the count, & do not resume boxing
‘Til I tell you to do so – now I want
A clean bout – when I order you to break
Stop punching & step back – good luck, shake hands

Angelo Dundee
You’ve got the speed to offset Liston’s jab
& his jab is the key to everything
Surround it, side to side, with agile skill
He makes intimidation a science
Sonny makes a science of intimidation
So, when you step in the ring with this guy
Stand up tall, let him see you’re just as big


Howard Cossel
Cassius Clay’s on the move as we see
Hoping to get Sonny Liston to lunge
Carries his left hand dangerously low
The Champion is the aggressive man
A good heavy shot dug under the heart
Sonny has to set the pace, that’s the way
It looks at the outset, but there’s a good
Long left lead from Cassius that just might
Keep the champion a bit off balance
Sonny’s trying to slip those left leads in
But cannot do it too successfully
As the challenger’s jabbing all over
& gives the best punch of the fight so far
& now we’re down to the closing seconds
Of this first round, & the difference is
I think, the long left lead of Mister Clay


& so, Joe Louis, tell us what you think
at the end of one

Joe Louis
Well, Howard, I think that’s the greatest round
Of any fight we’ve seen in a long time
Because Clay, I think’s, competed with class
Completely outplay’d Liston with his speed
Awkward style & natural ability

Howard Cossel
Do you think that Cassius can keep it up

Joe Louis
Well I hope Clay don’t get too confident
Erewise he might just get himself knock’d out

Angelo Dundee
Keep that jab in his face, & stuff it in
So hard it comes out the back of his head


Howard Cossel
Joe just referr’d to overconfidence
This can happen – & it seems that Sonny
Is not actually head hunting now
He’s content to rip towards the body
Trying to bring the guard down & then go,
Upstairs, but this youngster has his own style
& its confusing for the champion
To fathom out at this stage of the fight

Joe Louis
If you watch it closely, the champion
Is plumbing away, is pumping that jab
To set up other punches, but resisted
By the challenger moving him away


Howard Cossel
It looks like Liston’s getting frustrated
His salvos are bouncimng off the armour
Of Liston’s battleship, so, Joe Louis
What are they saying in Liston’s corner
Of how he’ll have to battle in round three

Joe Louis
Well, I’m sure Dick Sadler’s telling Sonny,
To totally forget about Clay’s head
Because, you know, he’s pulling back too much
& is much too fast for that, so I think
Liston should work on the body a while
There is the old saying, ‘kill the body
& the head will die

Howard Cossel
You’re close to Sonny
Liston was looking tense in that last round
Why was that

Joe Louis
Well I think that in the last round
Sonny might have look’d a little bit tense
Because, in the first round, Clay really show’d
A lot of moving, you know & Liston
Didn’t like it


Howard Cossel
Well, here we are round three
Another jarring right hand folks, & there’s
Another one – wobbles, Sonny wobbles
Cassius has him hurt – & now Sonny
Has a big dark mark below his left eye
& a little bit bleeding from the nose
Yes, he has a cut below the left eye
& he’s getting hit with all the punches
In the book, but hold the phone, Cassius
Is now a bit hurt, Sonny’s durable


Howard Cossel
don’t know if you can see, Joe, but they’re
Working on the cut below the left eye
As Joe Pellino’s working on the cut
What do you think Sonny’s condition is
Right now

Joe Louis
Well that round looked bad for Sonny
Especially putting all them flurries
In on Sonny, but towards the round’s end
Sonny was looking pretty good himself


Howard Cossel
The champion’s being out-manoeuvred
At most points by Clay’s style, awkward & fast
Of going side-to-side, now Sonny has
Some puffiness below his right eye now
That was a good solid hook from Liston
There’s just a few seconds more in round four


Cassius Clay
I cannot see, I cannot see, my eyes
Cut off my gloves, guys, we are going home

Ferdy Pacheo
Forget that, man, this is the championship
Give me a towel, I’m gonna clean your eyes

Cassius Clay
It burns, it burns

Enter Barmey Felix

Barney Felix
What’s the problem

Cassius Clay
I cannot see

It’s fine
I’m dealing with it, looks like linament
Got in his eyes

Angelo Dundee
It’s the big one, daddy
Stay away from him & run the whole round
Giving your eyes the time to wash away
Their blinding invader – you got this champ
beethoven wrote best symphonies when deaf
So you can fight your greatest when made blind

Howard Cossel
Now we’ve had four fab rounds – what do you think
Being twelve full minutes into the fight
Is going thro’ this youngster’s mind right now

Joe Louis
Well he’s talking a lot right now, he looks
Agitated, like he is arguing
With his trainers, I think he’s been getting
More comfy as the fight has gone along
But now he’s arguing with Angelo
& why I do not know, but it looks like
Something’s gone wrong with his eyes or something

Howard Cossel
I see that Joe, he is blinking badly


Howard Cossel
Cassius still has problems with his eyes
He is blinking & he is bouncing away
Continually, Liston’s still aiming
Towards the body with the big punches
Sonny has just fired his best left hook so far
But Cassius is still bouncing away
Blocking them, he’s just pushing his left fist
Firm into the face of Sonny Liston

Harry Carpenter
What a privilege it is to be here
In Miami, this fifth round, reporting
On this great boxing bout for Britannia
Liston has a scowl strain’d across his face
His lips are twisted


Harry Carpenter
The bell ends the fifth
Now that was the most fantastic of rounds
Clay come out complaining he couldn’t see
There was something alien in his eyes
Then, as the round develop’d, he began
To play about & play the fool & make
Sonny Liston look to us quite silly
This is the most extraordinary
& sensational heavyweight match-up
Since before the war


Harry Carpenter
& on to round six
It’s all Clay again, & as it’s all Clay
His corner are jubilant as he makes
The champion appear a sparring partner
Liston’s now looking completely at sea
& doesn’t know just what its all about
Like the rest of us, totally amazed

Bundini Brown
Throw the left & throw the right, end the show
Dance, champ, dance

Harry Carpenter
Cassius Clay is simply
Brushing all Liston’s best punches aside
Now Clay is coming forward, got Liston
On the retreat


Harry Carpenter
That’s six rounds completed
& the Convention Hall is wide ringing
Not for the champ, but for the challenger,
sonny Liston has stopp’d Zora Folley
& Nino Valdez & Cleveland Williams
But as its going now he cannot stop
& doesn’t look like stopping Cassius
Marcellus Clay, the man who has boasted
Since winning the olympics he’d become
The Heavyweight Champion of the World
& what’s happened – Clay has won, Clay has won
Something has happen’d in Liston’s corner
I do not know just what is going on
Apart from Clay has won after six rounds
The ex champion sits despondently
In his corner, while Cassius goes wild
A sensation among all sensations
It’s all over at the end of the sixth
& Cassius Clay’s the new champion
It is the first time since nineteen nineteen
When Jack Dempsey demolish’d Jess Willard
That a world heavyweight champion fail’d
To leave his stool, why Liston has retired
We do not know, but what fantastic scenes
The police are in the ring to halt the mob
Of folk trying to absorb the moment
We’re now going to get Howard Cossel
Who’s in the ring right now talking to Clay

Cassius Clay
I shook up the world, I shook up the world
I’m the greatest, I’m the king of the world
I’ve upset the world, so give me justice
I said if he wanted to reach heaven
I’d get him in seven, I am the king

Howard Cossel
What made him so easy for you

Cassius Clay
I’m fast
Too fast – & he was scared, boy was he scar’d

Howard Cossel
Absolute bedlam is busting out here
Who gave you your plan, Angelo Dundee

Cassius Clay
No, myself

Howard Cossel
So, was there a single point
Where you knew you had him

Cassius Clay
There was, Howard
I knew I had him in the very first
& the almighty god was with me
I want everybody to bear witness
I am the greatest – I shook up the world –
I am greatest thing that ever lived
& I don’t have a mark upon my face
& I have just upset Sonny Liston
& I have just turn’d twenty two years old
I must be the greatest – I show’d the world
Each day I talk to God – I show’d you all world
I shook, up the world – I shook up the world
You must listen to me – I’m the greatest
I cannot be beat – I am the greatest

Howard Cossel
Cassius, wait a minute Cassius
You told me that you could do it in eight
Well you did it on the cusp of seven

Cassius Clay
I was ready to take him in the eighth
As you could see, but the man has stopp’d it
Just to keep from making me look so great
It was no match – I want the world to know
In the fifth round, I couldn’t see a thing
My face was burning, but still I whupp’d him
He couldn’t hurt me – I’m the prettiest
Thing that ever lived – I shook up the world
Never make me an underdog again
Aint nobody ever gonna stop me
There is not a heavyweight in the world
Fast enough to stop me, look at Liston
He’s one of the most powerful fighters
In the world, but he look’d like a baby
& his face was swollen, chopp’d up & chew’d
I whupp’d him so bad – I AM the greatest

Cassius Clay goes to the corner & throws kisses to everyone

Scene 23

Miami / outside Cassius Clay’s hotel the press are gather’d / enter Cassius Clay with Macolm X

Cassius Clay
Good morning, & thank you all for coming
At such short notice

You are the champ now
Just click your fingers & we’ll come running

Cassius Clay
Well, yesterday, last night, you all saw God
Was with me in the ring, an active light
Of life & love inspiring ev’ry blow
For as the Honourable Elijah
Muhammad is the messenger of God,
So, last night, also, show’d I bear the grace
Of Allah & the Nation of Islam
In whose campaign for noble betterment
Among the blacks, long time oppress’d by those
Proclaiming all are equal, while in truth
They’d lynch me segregation to ensure,
& so, henceforth, from today, hear me now
As Chinaman looks strange nam’d Robert Smith,
I shall be known as a Clay no longer
For that name on my ancestors was forc’d
Lacking scrupulous legitimacy
Tagg’d as the property of their masters
By slavery made deaf & dumb & blind
& ignorant to all our traditions
But this is so-call’d nineteen sixty-four
The Age of Progress, men have been in space
& will be on the moon before too long
So, let me tell you all, from this fine morn
The first since I assum’d my rightful place
As Heavyweight Champion of the World,
That all who saw could tell no lucky fluke,
But triumph was by God predetermin’d,
I will be call’d by the fair name given
By the great Honourable Elijah
Muhammed, taught the truth that will free us
By Allah, whom we call God, I’ll share the name
Of both his prophets, my first, Muhammad,
My second is Ali, set together
My full name form’d is Muhammad Ali
How trippingly it tingles on the tongue
While sacred ruminations swell the tone
& in its saying, liberated, feel
This the frank epitome of joy
I was baptized when I was twelve, but then
I was too young, & didn’t know the truth,
But I don’t have to be a Christian
& I’m not a Christian anymore
Don’t have to be a well behav’d solider
Of your American democracy
Some vague-soul’d athlete prince like Joe Louis
I will not be what you want me to be
I am free to be whoever I want
In this, the wide-proclaim’d Land of the Free,
The right to worships deepest vein ingrain’d
& as I love Allah, to show that love
Whenever anybody says my name
They’ll give Allah a moment of their time
& as they’ll first envision my being,
Thro’ me they’ll come to God’s infinite love
& Islam is the truest faith, which means
Peace, I’m now the heavyweight champion,
But in the America of this day
There’s neighbourhoods I cannot make my home
But I’ll never be a troublemaker,
I don’t believe in forced integration
A man has got to know where he belongs
I belong with the Nation of Islam

Malcolm X
Right brother

Cassius Clay
People brand us a hate group
Say we want to take over the country
That we are communists – that is not true –
Allah’s followers are the world’s sweetest
They don’t carry knives, pray five times a day
Women wear dresses that flow to the floor
They don’t want to stir up any trouble
& nor do I, I want to live in peace
A member of the Nation of Islam
So, thank-you very much, & remember
Cassius Clay is now gone forever
Some fungal symptom of our Human greed
I’ve left the village & mounted the steep
I want to lead a life more benedight
& so, in me, lives Muhammad Ali

But I am America.
I am the part you won’t recognize.
But get used to me:
Black, confident, cocky.
My name, not yours.
My religion, not yours.
My goals, my own.
Get used to me.
& I will see you all very soon

Journalist 2
Hey Cassius, I mean, ehm, Muhammad
What do you say about Liston’s shoulder’s
Bursitis aggravated by a swing

Malcolm X
That will be enough for today, thank-you

Journalist 3
Can you tell us about the divisions
In the Nation of Islam, Malcom, please

Exit Muhammad Ali & Malcolm X

Journalist 1
What did he just say

Journalist 2
He has chang’d his name
Some A-rab sounding Muslim mess of words

Journalist 3
Boxing’s been irrevocably revers’d
From simple gladiatorial combat
To soap-box preaching in a single night
When the planets’s heavyweight champion
Has become a religious crusader
Fanatic of an etraneous force
Which no place has in the sports arena

Journalist 2
What the fuck! Muhammad Ali! Bullshit!

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