On March 6,1964 Cassius Clay announced that he no longer would be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali.
Clay had been linked to the Nation of Islam, although they initially had refused him entry as a member due to his boxing career. However when Clay beat Joe Liston in 1964, the Nation of Islam did accept him , I can only speculate that this was a good Public Relations move for them.
Shortly afterwards on March 6, Elijah Muhammad gave a radio address that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (most high).
Muhammad Ali had claimed that his old name Cassius Clay was a “slave name and a white man’s name”
Unfortunately this is what happens so often when athletes, musicians, actors or other celebrities get involved in a political movement(although the nation of Islam had religious elements, it was really a political movement) they get very enthusiastic about the cause and sometimes forget to do all the research.
Cassius Marcellus Clay had been a slave owner, but he also was a politician, and emancipationist who worked for the abolition of slavery.
He was a founding member of the Republican Party in Kentucky. It was in this same state where a certain Mr. Abe Grady from Ennis in Ireland, met a free African-American woman and married her. They had a son named John Lewis Grady. He married Birdie Moorehead and the couple had a daughter Odessa Lee Grady . Odessa married Cassius Clay Sr, who was the son of Herman H. Clay(born in 1876 after slavery had been abolished in the USA).
In 2009 Muhammad Ali visited Ennis to trace his routes.
No one can ever deny the genius of Muhammad Ali, but I do think he was a small bit blindsided by the politics surrounding the Nation of Islam.
However all in all he was a great man and a generous human being. When it comes to boxing he was without a shadow of a doubt the greatest. There probably will never be a boxer of his caliber again, especially when you look at the boxing industry nowadays, and I say industry because it is very little to do with sports anymore.
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