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Autographs by Cassius Clay and Jesse Owens (1960)

Autographs by Cassius Clay and Jesse Owens (1960)

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World sports legends and icons of the fight against racism, Jesse Owens and Cassius Clay, meet at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

  • Postcard from the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy, with autographs from Cassius Clay, Jesse Owens and other international athletes who participated in the 1960 Olympics.
  • It belonged to a French journalist who died in 2011.
  • 13.3 cm x 8.5 cm.
  • Average condition, right edge a little damaged.
  • Unique piece.

"Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens knew each other. They weren't close friends but they respected each other a lot for their successes. Jesse Owens was more friends with Joe Louis because they were the same age." says Marlene Owens Rankin, daughter of Jesse Owens, with whom we spoke about this very rare document, as the two legendary athletes had few opportunities to meet.

In 1960, Cassius Clay (1942 - 2016) won the gold medal in wrestling at the Olympics and, with his talent and charisma, became a worldwide celebrity, at just 18 years old, beginning an incredible career as a champion. In the same year, Jesse Owens (1913 - 1980), who was 47 years old, was retired from athletics, publicly represented large American companies and developed a social program for children and teenagers. They both appreciated each other, especially because they had a lot in common: both were famous athletes, black and victims of racism in their own country.

Throughout his life, in his biography or in interviews, Jesse Owens recounted his humiliating return to the United States in 1936, despite winning four gold medals against Hitler at the Berlin Olympics:

Joe Louis and I were the first black athletes allowed to represent America,” Owens said, “but neither of us were allowed to get endorsement deals because the American South would not have bought such advertised products. This was the social stigma to which we were subjected.

When I returned from the Olympic Games to my American homeland, after all the stories about Hitler, how he would have despised me, I still had to sit in the back. I couldn't live where I wanted... I wasn't actually invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I also wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the American president.

In 1960, it was young Cassius Clay's turn to return to the United States after the Olympics and, despite his recent fame due to a gold medal, face racism, exactly like Jesse Owens twenty five years earlier. At that time he decided to become a Muslim, change his name to Muhammad Ali, meet pastor Martin Luther King and begin to actively participate in the fight for black rights.

We have no record of other documents signed by Cassius Clay and Jesse Owens at this very special moment in the career of the future Mohamed Ali. It is therefore, most likely, a unique piece of history.

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