This Day In Sports History (March 6th) — Muhammad Ali

muhammad ali with malcolm x

It was on this day in 1964 that Elijah Muhammad announced Cassius Clay would be renamed, “Muhammad Ali.”  Clay’s adoption of this name symbolized his acceptance and new identity as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam after claiming the championship from Sonny Liston in 1964.  At the time, Clay was given the name Cassius X because it was believed that his surname was nothing more than a symbol of his ancestors’ enslavement.  On Friday, March 6, 1964, Clay was taken on a guided tour of the UN building by Malcolm X.  Later that night, the prophet Elijah Muhammad announced in a recorded statement over the phone (which was to be played over the radio) that Clay would be renamed Muhammad Ali.  Muhammad was interpreted as “one who is worthy of praise,” while Ali represented “the fourth rightly guided caliph.”

Many sports writers refused to accept Ali’s new name, including boxing announcer Don Dunphy and most British reporters.  One reporter who did adopt his new name was Howard Cosell.  Today, most people refer to the former champ as Muhammad Ali.

Here is a clip of Muhammad Ali talking about his beliefs and the Islamic religion.

Notable Birthdays

Erik Bedard, MLB – Born on March 6, 1978 (age 36) in Navan, Ontario

Marcus Thames, MLB –  Born on March 6, 1977 (age 37) in Louisville, Mississippi

Shaquille O’Neal, NBA –  Born on March 6, 1972 (age 42) in Newark, New Jersey

Tags: Boxing, cassius clay, Muhammad Ali,