History | Premium | Aug 01 2019

The origins of Muhammad Ali

Springs Toledo tells the story of Muhammad Ali, 1960
Cassius Clay AKA Muhammad Ali trains for his first professional flight in front of local admirers in Louisville  |  Warren Klosterman/The Courier-Journal-USA TODAY Sports

IT’S the summer of 1960. A teenager stands under a sign that reads “Sugar Ray’s” at Seventh and 124th in Harlem. He shifts nervously, scanning the avenue, waiting for a god. After three hours a purple Cadillac pulls up.

“Mister Robinson?” the teenager says. Sugar Ray Robinson, the consensus choice for the greatest boxer of all time, notes his tall, golden frame and handsome face.

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