Miami Beach

Muhammad Ali Street? Miami Beach discussing honoring the champ

Muhammad Ali first “shook up the world!” in a 1964 Miami Beach that included restaurants that wouldn’t serve him, hotels that wouldn’t house him and his rumored religion change got blamed for slow ticket sales to his heavyweight title fight with Sonny Liston.

Things change. Witness that Wednesday, when the 2016 Miami Beach City Commission will discuss honoring Ali with a street and a statue at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The resolution sponsored by Mayor Philip Levine calls for discussing renaming Convention Center Drive “Muhammad Ali Drive.” Also to be discussed: erecting a statue of the former heavyweight champion at the new Convention Center or a renovated version of the current complex.

Ali died late Friday night at 74.

Perhaps the statue should be of Ali, still known as “Cassius Clay,” pointing and screaming at doubting ringside reporters as he did in his signature Miami Beach moment.

Ali won the heavyweight title for the first time by upsetting 7-1 betting favorite Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center in one of the landmark moments in sports history. After taunting Liston in the months before the fight, Ali behaved as if in hysterics during the weigh-in at the Convention Center, trying to convince the fearsome Liston that he was crazy. His dominance over Rounds 1-6 prompted Liston to quit on his stool before the seventh round.

As Liston spit out his mouthpiece, Ali launched himself to one side of the ring, dragging cornermen and flinging limbs at a media that overwhelmingly picked Liston by early knockout with “Eat your words!” Once he got harnessed for a television interview, he overwhelmed the attempted questions with roars of “I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I’m a baaad man...”

The next day, Ali announced his conversion to the Nation of Islam.

Ali trained at Miami Beach’s 5th Street Gym on Washington Avenue for his 1960s fights. He returned there for workouts occasionally after constructing his Deer Lake, Pa., training camp in the 1970s.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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