A Louisville Newspaper Apologizes For Calling Muhammad Ali By His Former Name

The Courier-Journal, a newspaper in Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Ky., is finally apologizing for calling the boxing champ by his former name Cassius Clay for several years after he legally changed his name.

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“It is time for the Courier-Journal to acknowledge the role it played by not accepting the name Muhammad Ali for several years after the 22-year-old Cassius Clay took on the moniker when he adopted the Muslim religion in 1964,” Executive Editor Neil Budde wrote in the newspaper’s Monday editorial. Ali legally changed his name in 1964, and the newspaper did not consistently call him by that name until 1970. His name was changed to coincide with his Islamic faith. He referred to the name Cassius Clay as a “slave name.”

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“During those years, in our news columns, the CJ almost always called the boxer Cassius Clay, certainly in headlines,” continued Budde. “Often in stories the name was followed by a parenthetical (Muhammad Ali) but not always. On occasion, we were more dismissive of the name. After Ali polished off Jerry Quarry on Oct. 26, 1970, the CJ story worded it: ‘Cassius Clay (or Muhammad Ali, if you will)…’ The CJ was certainly an early champion of civil rights and desegregation. Yet we took what in today’s light is an oddly hostile approach on the specific issue of Ali’s name, which did little to help race relations in a turbulent time.”

Respect to the editor for acknowledging this after all of these years.

Tags: Muhammad Ali