I can’t be stopped

Although unsurprising, it’s fascinating to see early flashes of Muhammad Ali‘s confidence and charm as illustrated by the following letter. This was in October of 1961, Ali was aged just nineteen, and in fact wasn’t Ali at all but rather Cassius Clay; he had ninety-five amateur wins and nine professional victories already under his belt; he had recently taken Gold at the Rome Olympics; the current issue of Sports Illustrated featured an article that labelled him a ‘heavyweight prodigy [who can] fight almost as much as he can talk’. However, Clay was clearly missing the sort of female attention being experienced by his college-based friend.

The unknown opponent turned out to be German heavyweight Willi Besmanoff. Clay stopped him in the seventh with a technical knockout.

Transcript follows.


Say my man,

Ain’t nothing happening man, all of the little girls won’t come, were there are I just don’t know, Collage is whats happening man, you are in a place were the girls have to stay, and that way you can see then all every day, man I lost your adress, and I could not get in touch with you, and in the mean while I have been going up side heads, say man I am going back to florida next week to train for a fight I will have in 7 weeks, this one will not be on T.V. but it will be in Lou KY, who it is I don’t know yet, but I can’t be stoped (smiles) When you get home in December you write me a few lines so that I wont forget, and if nothing aint goind own I will drive down, I am in this weeks sport Illustrated the date on it is Oct. 16, 1961 I have a good write up on my last fight, and I should have a good story in the next ring, Rudolph said hello and keep your cool smile I must go now Hope to see you soon

Cassius Clay