I woke up this morning to an LA history story of a sort by Nick Roman of KPCC. He reported on the Los Angeles debut 50 years ago this week of the young heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay. The 20-year-old defeated an Idaho slugger named George Logan in the fourth round at the Sports Arena on April 23, 1962, then knocked out Argentine Alejandro Lavorante in July. That November, Clay defeated his former trainer, 45-year-old Archie Moore, in the fourth round. That was it for Clay's Los Angeles boxing career, apparently [see update below.] Three fights later, Clay would face Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title.
After defeating Liston, Clay announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam and would be known henceforth as Muhammad Ali. He appeared on stage at the Olympic Auditorium on Grand Avenue on August 9, 1964 beside Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. The photo above, from the Los Angeles Public Library's Herald Examiner Collection, appears in "Play by Play: Los Angeles Sports Photography 1889-1989," by David Davis.
Davis also had this Herald Examiner/LAPL photo, below, of Clay and Lavorante weighing in before their Sports Arena bout. Later that year, Lavorante would die of injuries he suffered in a boxing match at the Olympic Auditorium.
Ali's refusal to be drafted for the Vietnam War made him a symbol to many, pro and con. Below, he signed draft cards at Cheviot Hills Park on the Westside on June 24, 1967.
Before the 1962 prizefight with Lavorante, Clay met with Mayor Sam Yorty at City Hall.
Ali would later live in Los Angeles, in a home inside gated Fremont Place. I'm not certain
how long he lived here or where else in the city he may also have resided.
* Update: I'm told that Ali also fought Ken Norton at the Forum in Inglewood in 1973.