Before everyone starts slobbering over Cassius Clay, let’s get a few things straight.
He was a draft dodger because he was a coward who refused to fight for his country, not for any high-minded ideals later ascribed to him by a doting press. Mr. Clay was a coward, pure and simple.
He introduced Islam to mainstream America.
He lost the Fight of the Century. He tried a Namath-style “guarantee” of victory, but when Smokin’ Joe Frazier flattened him in the 15th round, millions cheered.
He was the first to use the hype-trumps-fact method of mass self-promotion, a scourge that unfortunately became widespread.
He was not “the greatest” fighter ever, not even in the top 10.
His fights were boring, except when matched against an aggressor like Mr. Frazier. His normal tactic was to run, run, run, jab, and run some more. Larry Holmes gave him brain damage and he lost to Trevor Berbick, among others. Who could forget Ken Norton breaking Mr. Clay’s jaw as he prattled on in the ring?
Not much of a legacy.
Mark Obar, Fresno