Muhammad Ali's Gold Medal

At the 1996 Olympics, Ali was re-presented a Gold.

According to Bob Costas, as he was introducing the segment, the story that Ali had thrown his medal into the river was a myth–that it had actually been lost in a move at some point.

However, in a newspaper interview in 1997 (a Kentucky paper–I don’t remember which one), Ali reaffirmed the story about throwing it into the river.

So, there are a couple of possibilities:

Bob Costas was right.
Bob Costas was given bad information and didn’t know it.
Bob Costas was deliberately giving bad information.
Ali was right.
Ali was giving bad information (to the paper).
Ali’s brains have been scrambled to the point that he doesn’t have any idea what really happened to his medal.

I guess there are other possibilities, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Anyone with the “straight dope” on this?

I always understood that he did indeed throw his medal away because he was pissed at the racism he saw in the US at the time.

But if it turns out to be false, I wouldn’t be surprised…

Yer pal,

In his autobiography, “Ali, the Greatest,”
Ali spends several pages on the topic.

According to him, when he returned home from Rome, after winning the Gold Medal, he and a couple of friends went to a restaurant to celebrate.

The staff and some of the patrons did not take kindly to these black boys strolling into a place frequented exclusively by whites.
(This was 40 years ago, in the heart of Kentucky).

There was a scuffle, and the boys left. While walking across the bridge, Ali threw the medal into the Ohio River.

To me it has the ring of truth, particularly in light of his later courageous stand against the Vietnam War.

In the prime of his career, when no one on the entire planet could compete with him, he gave it all up and stood on principle.

Until there is good evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to disbelieve his account.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

If you’re an optimist, you haven’t been paying attention.

Wally, you story doesn’t ring true. The bridges in Louisville are over the Ohio river. They take you to Indiana. They aren’t really pedestrian bridges.

If this happened, Ali would have made a special trip to the middle of the bridge to throw the medal in. He wouldn’t have been walking home across an Ohio River bridge.

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

Well, Frank, it’s not my story, it’s Ali’s.

And nowhere did I say that Ali was walking home.

Ali didn’t say so, either.

In the biographical movie of his life (in which Ali played himself) he chucked that sucker off the bridge but good! Muhammad ain’t no actor (re. D-Con 4-Gone commercials) but that medal heaving scene definitely had the ring of truth. I have no doubt that he threw that medal – and probably the first fight with Leon Spinks.

Costas is a liar!

I, too, think that he went into the tank in the Spinks fight.

Spinks was a tomato can. Ali wanted to be the first 3 time heavyweight champ.

I never quite forgave him for that.

Well it is possible, if this story is true, that Ali didn’t want to make it to clear which bridge he threw the medal off of. I’m sure that the medal would be worth quite a lot of $$$, and maybe he didn’t want people to try to recover it.

“Courageous stand?” Oh, please!

Are you going to elaborate on why you don’t think it was a courageous stand?
He spent time in prison, losing money and fans because he was against the war. He didn’t flee the country, nor did he try to find another easy way out.


His stance, IIRC, is that he was an ordained minister of Islam and thus was ineligible to be drafted.

FTR, he’s no longer a member of NoI but now belongs to the Sunni (also known as Orhodox) sect of Islam.

Going to jail because you don’t think you in particular shouldn’t be drafted but other foks should is not a courageous stance against the war; it’s selfishness.

“but other foks should”

Where’d ya get that, Monty? I don’t recall Ali ever saying that others should go to that particular war.
His enlistment would’ve been a cake walk, had he decided to take the easy way out and join.
His stand cost him a lot.

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

And my next-door neighbour’s stand cost him a lot. He was murdered by one of his own soldiers shortly after he took over as Platoon Leader.

Yeah-a term in jail in America where nobody’s shooting at you is a lot tougher than being in actual combat. I’ll make a note of that.

And just for fun, you can check out his entry in F&@ ( ).

Again, FTR, Ali left the Nation of Islam and now follows what’s referred to as Orthodox or Mainstream Islam (Sunni). Since they don’t have ministers, Ali’s not now a minister. I was addressing what the court deemed draft dodging. But that was then.

Monty, Ali wouldn’t have had to go to battle. He was as much as promised an easy PR gig if only he would shut up and join. You don’t honestly believe the U S Army would kill off the heavy-weight champion of the world, do you? He lost his freakin TITLE, fer crissakes. Right at the peak of his carreer.
Thanks for the link. It re-affirmed my admiration of the man.
BTW; I was up and down the coast of Vietnam on a USN ship with about 800 Marines, most of 1965-1968. I know about fragging.

First, it was no surprise that LEon SPinks beat Ali the first time they fought- ALi was a washed up fighter by then, a second-rater who deserved to lose several fights before that one. In fact, I would argue that Spinks beat Ali far LESS decisivley than Jimmy Young had.

So, to all those who think Ali was a hero for giving up the belt he deserved in the 60s, fear not- the boxing establishment MORE than made up for it, allowing him to keep a belt he no longer deserved, long after he SHOULD have hung up his gloves.

And to those who think Ali was truly an Islamic clergyman, let me tell you about ALi the theologian. In 1975, he made an appearance at a Harlem high school, saw a little black girl wearing a cross, and began riduculing Christianity. HE laughed at her saying, “If your girlfriend got knocked up and she said the Holy Spirit was the father, you gonna believe her?”

I admit, SOME non-Christians may find that a funny line. If you’re an atheist, feel free to laugh hysterically. There’s just ONE little problem: the prophet Muhammad believed in the virgin birth of Jesus, and the virgin birth of Jesus is one of the tenets of Islam.

Now, I’M a Catholic, and even I know that: would someone explain how a supposedly devout Moslem (let alone a Moslem “clergyman”) did NOT know that?

In my opinion, Ali was a creep, a bully and a phony. I never really believed his story about throwing his medal in the river, and I find it even less plausible now.

Mangeorge: Here’s why I admire Ali as he is now:

  1. He left a racists group dedicated to the violent overthrow of “white devils.”

  2. He embraced a religion which actually does preach a lot of beauty and peace and even tolerance.

  3. He, SFAICT, isn’t using that particular faith now for a shield not to do something others of that faith have no problem with doing (joining the armed forces of their country).

Here’s why I didn’t admire him back then:

  1. He claimed to be a muslim clergyman yet was woefully ignorant of both the Koran and the Hadith, not to mention pretty much all of Sharia.

  2. He didn’t protest the war or our involvement in it when he “got religion” the first time (when he joined the Nation of Islam).

  3. He only claimed that he was not eligible for the draft. He did not protest the draft, per se.

Here’s what you did in this thread:

  1. Implied that I was making shit up.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Proved you wrong.

Hey, not a problem–I did post at the outset that Ali had left NoI. BTW, in the fragging(s) you know about, did you see anyone actually do it? If so, did you do the right thing and turn the SOB into the MPs so that the poor dead Sumbi’h’ could get some legitimate justice as was the case in my neighbour’s killing?

“Implied that I was making shit up.”

I certainly didn’t mean to imply that. I just didn’t see where you got that he thought others should enlist. Maybe he did, but I never heard him say anything of the kind.
No, I didn’t see any fragging. I was a sailor. The sailors and Marines got to be pretty close. We were an “amphibious Ready Group”, and they had to go in when things were going bad for the guys already there. We had a very high casualty rate. A couple of the Marines on my ship were indicted for it (fragging). I never learned the outcome of the courts martial. The officer was an asshole, but they should’ve just kicked his ass. Not killed him. Some (very few) gung-ho leaders put the men’s lives in danger for their own selfish reasons. I’m not talking from movies here.
The war really sucked, and a lot of people were truly fucked-up by what they were compelled to do. I never had to go into combat, and I’m still fucked-up.
Nobody’s perfect, Monty, not even the heavyweight champion, And it’s so easy to pass judgement from a distance.

So… what did he do with that medal?

MG: a couple of salient points.

  1. I got that he thought it was okay for others to go because he:
  • a) didn’t object to the war, per se, nor to the draft, per se.

  • b) did object to himself being drafted.

  1. Silly as this sounds, kicking the officer’s ass is also a good way to go to jail for a freaking long time–there’s a thing known as military justice (I know, sometimes that’s an oxymoron) and those who participate in the obstruction of justice are just as guilty as those whom they’re protecting by that circumvention.

  2. The Supreme Court of the US overturned Ali’s conviction–but “as much as promised” equates to “nothing.”

  3. Reread my posting above where I enumerated why I admire the man Ali is now.