Cassius Clay a biography by Jack Olsen, 1967 publication hardback copy.
What strange times we live in. What a strange, uncommon man is Clay. Who can fathom him? We can only watch in wonder as he performs and ponder whether, despite his often truly affecting ways, he doesn't scorn us and the World he is champion of.
Like future opponents and fellow World heavyweight champions Patterson, Frazier, Foreman and Spinks, Clay crowned his amateur career by winning an Olympic gold medal. This he achieved in the light-heavyweight division at the XVII Olympiad held in Rome during the summer of 1960.
His well known fear of flying almost prevented him from appearing at the games and it took all of Joe Martins persuasive powers to convince his young protege that this was one plane ride he had to take. Clay's opening bout was against Belgian Yvon Becaus who was unable to cope with the young American's combination punches and was stopped in the second round. Next up was the Russian Guennadiy Shatkov who was Olympic middleweight champion 4 years before, he was far more experienced than his opponent but Clay's superior ability saw him through to an undisputed victory. In the semi-final the 18 year old met up with old rival Tony Madigan whom he had beaten the previous year in the national golden gloves. The aggressive Australian pressed forward throughout the 3 rounds but Clay boxed intelligently on the retreat, scoring effectively to register another unanimous points win. His opponent in the final was Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, a 25-year old southpaw. Pietrzykowski was a tipple European champion and an Olympic bronze medallist but Clay handled him with surprising ease once he had solved the problem of the pole's awkward style. In the last round the Louisville youngster administered a fearful battering, opening up a cut over the pole's left eye and rendering him out on his feet at the bell. Even the Pole's in the 16,000 audience could not disagree as all 5 judges voted Clay Olympic champion