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Sports Feature: Cassius Clay visits Madison

In 1959, the University of Wisconsin in Madison hosted the Pan American Amateur Boxing Trials. This much-celebrated boxing event brought one of the greatest boxers the world would ever see in the form of a 178-pound, 17-year-old high school student Cassius Clay. Coming off a 34-bout winning streak, Cassius made quick work of his opponents, eventually making it to the championship match. While he demonstrated his ability and potential, Clay lost the championship at the hand of Amos Johnson, the 25-year amateur boxer who would go on to compete in the Pan American Championship in Chicago. This would be the last fight Clay would ever lose as an amateur. Five years (and zero losses) later Cassius Clay was crowned the 1964 heavyweight champion of the world. Shortly after that, he changed his name to the one most commonly associate with him, Muhammad Ali.

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., (white trunks) fighting Amos Johnson in the 178 pound final of the Pan-American Games boxing trials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Field House. -- Wisconsin Historical Society

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., (white trunks) fighting Amos Johnson in the 178 pound final of the Pan-American Games boxing trials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Field House.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Don’t miss this and other interesting historical moments in the hardcover book, Madison in Focus.

Madison in Focus: A City’s Story Told Through Photography Cover
Wisconsin State Journal presents Madison in Focus: A City’s Story Told Through Photography

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