Create, Learn, Discuss

Muhammad Ali   |   The Civil Rights Movement   |   Be Creative!   |   Discussion Questions   |   Boxing
I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want. — Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. — Muhammad Ali

  • Muhammad Ali is still very much alive. In fact you can follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or his official website.
  • Watch this short video from the History Channel to find out more about why Muhammad Ali changed his name and why he refused to participate in the Vietnam War:

  • Watch the famous fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston:

  • In 1981, Muhammad Ali happened to be in the area when a Vietnam veteran was threatening to jump from the ninth floor or a building. After attempts by the police, a psychologist and a minister to talk the man down failed, Ali ran to the scene and successfully talked him out of committing suicide.

  • The Courier-Journal is the newspaper for Ali’s hometown of Louisville, KY. They have an excellent archive of images and information for their local hero.
  • Robert Shetterly chose Ali as one of the subjects behind his portrait series, Americans Who Tell the Truth, dedicated to models of courageous citizenship.
  • Find out more about the theatre that first commissioned And In This Corner…Cassius Clay: Stage One Family Theatre in Louisville, KY.

The Civil Rights Movement

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe. — Muhammad Ali

  • Cassius Clay grew up under what were known as “Jim Crow Laws”. These were federal, state and local laws in the United States (1876-1965) that mandated racial segregation in all public facilities.
  • Segregation is the act of isolating a race or class from the rest of the population. Supposedly, these laws created a “separate but equal” experience for African Americans. But in reality, these laws led to facilities that were inferior to those provided for the sole use of Caucasian Americans. Some examples of these laws in Kentucky were:
    • It was unlawful for children of different races to attend the same school.
    • Intermarriage between white persons and persons of color was prohibited.
    • All public parks, recreation centers, playgrounds, etc. were segregated.
  • Read all about famous Civil Rights Leaders courtesy of the Ali Center.
  • Check out the amazing resources HEC-TV has on the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Find out more about how the Civil Rights Movement continues today: RACIAL INEQUITY IN ST. LOUIS

Be Creative!

The man who has no imagination has no wings. — Muhammad Ali

  • Finding the Hero within Yourself – Cassius remarks that he is going to be the first Negro super hero. He then uses his talents to become a real life hero. Download this comic book to become a superhero just like Cassius.
  • Muhammad Ali came up with a tagline to describe his boxing style and personality. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Come up with your own tagline to describe yourself.
  • Boxing robes sometimes have elaborate designs. Design a logo for your own boxing championship robe.
  • Cassius writes to his mother Odessa when he travels to Rome for the Olympics. Imagine you are flying by yourself to that one place in the world you’ve always wanted to visit. Write a letter home describing your adventures.

Discussion Questions

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it — then I can achieve it. — Muhammad Ali

  • What would have happened if Cassius never ran into Officer Joe Martin and “whupped” the people who stole his bike?
  • Muhammad Ali, often referred to as “The Greatest of all time” began as teenage Cassius Clay. What made him so great? What does it take to become “Great”?
  • How does the death of Emmett Till affect Cassius and his family? Has national news ever had a profound impact on you? How so?
  • What makes Cassius stand up to Corky Baker? Have you ever stood up for what you believed in? What gave you the courage?
  • Why did Cassius stay in school, when all he wanted to do was box?
  • Some words have a lot of power and are used to oppress others and make them feel worthless. What words have you heard that hold that power? Why do people use them?
  • In what ways are Cassius and Eddie similar? How are they different?
  • Cassius is disappointed when he meets his hero Sugar Ray Robinson, but that meeting inspires him to become a hero himself. Who are your heroes? Why? How can you become more like them?
  • Cassius is able to overcome his fear of flying to go to the Olympics. What fears have you already faced? How did you do it?
  • Cassius and Rudy aren’t allowed to eat in the “white only” diner. How would you respond if you were excluded from something that your friends were allowed to do?
  • Why do you think people still talk about Muhammad Ali?

Interested in Boxing?

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. — Muhammad Ali


  • St. Louis All City Boxing helped us prepare for this play.
  • Want to see a real life boxing match? Go see the annual Guns N’ Hoses match and support a great cause!
  • Learn more about the rich history of boxing in St. Louis.
  • Just like Joe Martin, police officer turned boxing trainer, Kevin Cunningham has trained several world champions right here in St. Louis.