No single boxer has ever achieved an Olympic double at light heavyweight, but in 1960, a young American named Cassius Clay travelled with the USA team to Italy to represent his country at the Olympic Games. Having taken up boxing at the age of 12, Clay had already developed supreme self-confidence, a fact reflected in the 18 year-old’s brilliant campaign in Rome.
Clay dominated all four of his contests, beating Belgium’s Yon Because, Gennadiy Shatkov of Soviet Union, Australia’s Anthony Madigan and Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland to win a gold medal so precious to him that, so the story goes, he refused to take it off for days afterwards.
Always outspoken but rarely outgunned, Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, would go on to become the most beloved boxer of all time, and a sporting icon around the world. In 1996 he was asked to light the flame during the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Games, an honour reflecting his immense devotion to humanitarian causes the world over. Ali sadly passed away in June of this year, but will forever be remembered as The Greatest.