No discussion of how Cassius Clay evolved to become Muhammad Ali would be complete without exploring the seminal relationship between Ali and Malcolm X. In the book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X , Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith explore that relationship. Here are six things you may not have known about this intriguing friendship:
1.) The friendship between the two men began in secret with them meeting in private. Roberts and Smith use their travels to piece together secret meetings between Clay and Malcolm X.
2.) Both Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad wanted to use Cassius Clay to build their own movement after the NOI leader and his most famous pupil became estranged.
3.) Cassius Clay lied to reporters, telling them that he read his Bible, while secretly going to meetings with Nation of Islam members.
4.) Both Clay and Malcolm X were influenced by fathers who suffered from discrimination and cautioned their sons against trusting white people. This influence helped strengthen the bond between the two men.
5.) Elijah Muhammad gave Cassius Clay his new name–Muhammad Ali– and the boxer’s acceptance of that name symbolized his split with Malcolm X. Being Muhammad Ali meant becoming a loyal follower of Elijah Muhammad and distancing himself from Malcolm X, which was the Elijah’s Muhammad’s goal all along.
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6) After Malcolm X was murdered, Muhammad Ali did not make a public statement about the death of his former friend. He did make a statement after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.