He was Cassius Clay then--and several years from becoming the sports icon known around the world. What was on Muhammad Ali's mind back in the early 1960s?
Three early 1960's handwritten letters to his sparring partner written by Cassius Clay, later to be world-renowned as heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, are being sold in Heritage Auction Galleries current event.
The earliest known Clay letters, and the only ones to ever be offered in a public auction, were written immediately before and soon after his light heavyweight gold medal victory at the 1960 Olympics. Each letter is expected to sell for $10,000 or more.
"These letters are early insights into the mind of one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century as he makes the transition from Louisville, Kentucky amateur to international professional boxer. In one he writes about the approaching 1960 Olympics in Rome, in another about his first professional bout, and in two of the letters he mentions a young lady, 'Connie,' who was obviously on his mind," said Chris Ivy, Heritage Auctions Director of Sports Auctions.
A letter sent August 1, 1960 during his Olympic boxing team training in Fort Dix, New Jersey is signed, "Your Fighting Friend, Cassius Clay, U.S. Champ." He wrote: "I am in the best of shape, I hope to soon be home with the world Championship soon, I am still hitting hard...."
The Heritage auction wraps up next Thursday and Friday.