Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) vs Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight boxing title
at Miami Beach Convention Hall on February 25, 1964.
As the 7-1 underdog, 22-year-old Ali defeated Sonny Liston in six rounds by TKO. The fight was almost cancelled due to Ali’s religious beliefs. While he trained in Miami he had his mentor Malcolm X with him.
When the promoter threatened to cancel the fight if Ali didn’t distance himself from Malcolm and the Nation of Islam, Ali said, “My religion is more important to me than the fight.” The promoter finally relented when Malcolm agreed to leave Miami and return only the night of the fight. Before the fight, Malcolm X told Ali, “This fight is the truth. It’s the Cross and the Crescent fighting in a prize ring–for the first time. It’s a modern Crusades–a Christian and a Muslim facing each other with television to beam it off Telstar for the whole world to see what happens! Do you think Allah has brought about all this intending for you to leave the ring as anything but a champion?“
Malcolm was sitting ringside in seat number 7 when Ali became the champion.