Tag Archives: Cassius Clay

Clay And Liston In The Kitchen

radio

My mother and I had this special time when we’d listen to the radio together in the kitchen. I miss that.

We listened to music and the news and even the odd earth-shattering thing, like that morning when we heard about four fellows in Liverpool who wore their hair down on their foreheads, and who could sometimes sing high notes like women. The announcer, on Orillia’s CFOR, then played a record, and suddenly the Beatles were now in our lives.

We listened to something else pretty darn big too. The two Cassius Clay – Sonny Liston fights, when Clay was young and over the top motor-mouthed, and who was probably going to be smashed to smithereens by the big, strong ex-con Liston.

Liston was mean, powerful, and the World Champ, and he looked like he’d done his share of dumping bodies into deep lakes. Clay was gonna be in big trouble, like the Russians would be in the 1972 Summit Series.

I suppose it was Howard Cosell telling us through the radio that Clay was quick, how he danced and confused the big thug, and we realized that the young fighter was basically putting his money where his mouth was. It was a huge surprise.

Just like that, the young fellow who bragged, “After the fight I’m gonna build myself a pretty home and use him (Liston) as a bearskin,” had skinned the big bear, like he said he would, in February of 1964, the same month the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show.

A year later, in the rematch, with mom and I back at the radio, Liston refused to come out of his corner in the first round after the phantom punch, when he may or may not have been tagged by Clay and which kept him in the corner, and which officially made the guy a bum and Clay a hero.

Two big fights, the legend of Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali was born, and now it’s sad to hear of his passing. He was larger than life, a great boxer, a great man.

But it’s also bittersweet to hear this news. Because remembering the kitchen table with my mom and the radio makes me happy.

 

 

 

Happy Mom’s Day

mom

I lost my mom to stomach cancer back in 1978 when I was 27. She got what she thought was the flu, and four months later she was dead. It took me more than 30 years before I could work up the guts to visit her grave.

My mom was the typical 1950s and ’60s stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and cakes that were ready when we got home from school. She helped me write fan letters to the Rocket and other Montreal Canadien players, and her and I would often listen boxing matches on the radio at the kitchen table, including fights that featured a young fellow named Cassius Clay.

And together, one morning before school, we heard the Orillia announcer mention for the first time a brand new group from Liverpool.

She made sure there were always lots of Christmas presents under the tree, presents that were bought on department store credit that my dad had no idea about until after she died. And my dad, who’s also gone now, once told me about the time when I was very young and as we drove by the arena, I said “Hey, there’s the fucking arena!” My mom was very understanding and gentle as she explained to me about the bad word.

It was the only time I ever swore in front of my parents, and they never saw me smoke either as I grew into my teens and early adulthood.

She went to my hockey and baseball games, listened politely when I played her my new Bob Dylan albums, she liked my long hair and weird clothes, and she understood more than anyone about my restless feet. My friends loved her and she loved them, especially if they made her laugh.

This was a lady who didn’t have a problem with the wild 1960s, even though she was born in 1924 and grew up in a much different world. I was very proud of her.

If your mom is still alive and you love her, maybe you should tell her so. I’d give anything to say it now to my mom.

Hit ‘Em When They Least Expect It; “Coins” Makes A Sudden Return

Like Cassius Clay landing a big blow to Sonny Liston’s nose and then quickly landing another, I respond just one day after the debut of  “The Coin Collection” with a quick one-two and do it again.

Can’t let people get too comfortable or set in their ways. Gotta keep em on their toes.

I’ve checked and checked, got the magnifying glass out, and it’s not there. I’ll probably check again in a few years to see if it suddenly decides to appear.

If this 1936 Canadian penny had a little dot under the date, I might be lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills right now. There are only three or four known, and at auction could sell for several hundred thousand bucks.

The 1936 dot penny was actually made in 1937, but a King thing happened and threw everybody off guard. Edward Vlll abdicated the throne so he could marry an American gal, Wallis Simpson, and so at the beginning of 1937 there was no King’s image to go on the penny. So they continued putting 1936 on the new ones, only with a dot below the date.

When King George Vl was finally made King, the mint melted these dot pennies and they did a good job of it because like I say, there’s only a few around anywhere.

The Habs of 1936-37 were a good but not great team, and although they won the Canadian division, lost in the semi-finals to the Detroit Red Wings. 1936 was the year Howie Morenz made his emotional return to Montreal after playing in Chicago and New York, but in January of 1937, just around the time the Canadian Mint was making 1936 dot pennies, Morenz got a foot caught on the boards and fractured his leg and would eventually pass away on March 8, 1937 from reasons ranging from medical complications to a broken heart.

Morenz would be gone just two months before George Vl’s coronation and the Mint making 1937 pennies for real.

Montreal Canadiens born in 1936 include the great Henri Richard, plus Andre Pronovost, Ab McDonald, Ted Harris, and Dick Duff, along with Claude Laforge who played five games for the team in 1957-58, and Reg Fleming and Murray Balfour who played three and five games before they were shipped to Chicago where they blossomed into stars.

Others born in 1936 – Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, actors Burt Reynolds and Dennis Hopper, and one of my favourites, right-handed pitching ace Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers.