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Autographs by Cassius Clay and Jesse Owens (1960)

Autographs by Cassius Clay and Jesse Owens (1960)

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Legends of world sport and icons of the fight against racism, Jesse Owens and Cassius Clay, meet at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Postcard from the Olympic stadium in Rome, Italy, with autographs by Cassius Clay, Jesse Owens and other international athletes who participated in the 1960 Olympics. Belonged to a French journalist who died in 2011. 13.3 cm x 8.5 cm. Medium condition, right edge slightly damaged. Single 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 better friends with Joe Louis because they were the same age." tells Marlene Owens Rankin, daughter of Jesse Owens, with whom we spoke about this very rare document, as the two legendary athletes had little opportunity 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 world celebrity at just 18 years old, starting an incredible career as a champion. In the same year, Jesse Owens (1913 - 1980), who was 47 years old, retired from athletics, publicly represented large American companies and developed a social program for children and adolescents. Both liked 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 the four gold medals he won against Hitler at the Berlin Olympics:

Joe Louis and I were the first black athletes that were allowed to represent America,” Owens said, “but neither of us was allowed to sign endorsements 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 Olympics 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 to... I wasn't actually invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the American president either.

In 1960, it was young Cassius Clay's turn to return to the United States after the Olympics and, despite his newfound fame due to a gold medal, face racism, just like Jesse Owens twenty-five years earlier. At that time he decided to become Muslim, change his name to Muhammad Ali, meet Pastor Martin Luther King and begin to actively participate in the struggle 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 historical piece.

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