Incensed at the Mississippi native’s refusal to recognize his Muslim name, Muhammad Ali badly tortured Ernie Terrell en route to winning a lopsided unanimous decision 46 years ago this Wednesday on February 6, 1967 in Houston, Texas.
The then 25-year-old Ali (56-5, 37 KOs), a past three-time heavyweight champion who captured a gold medal for the USA as a light heavyweight at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, improved to 28-0, retained The Ring and WBC belts, and captured the WBA crown by battering Terrell (46-9, 21 KOs).
Ali, who has born Cassius Marcellus Clay and named "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated in 1999, relentlessly jabbed the 6-foot-6 Terrell while continually shouting, "What's my name, Uncle Tom? What's my name?”
Famous sportswriter Tex Maule aptly described Ali’s mauling as “a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty."
Ali, who famously prevailed over George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 and Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, was supposed to bludgeon Terrell in Chicago in March 1966.
However, the Illinois Athletic Commission wouldn’t sanction the bout due to Ali's opposition to the Vietnam War.
Shortly after brutalizing Terrell, “The Greatest” was unjustly stripped of his titles for refusing induction into the United States military based on his religious beliefs.
In response to Ali’s protest, the trailblazer was found guilty on draft evasion charges and barred from boxing until finally being reinstated to throw fists in 1970.
Ali had been robbed of three peak years and was never again as dominant a pugilist following the banishment.
“The Greatest” mercifully retired after being overwhelmed by Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas in December 1981.
Ali’s record is badly distorted because he was never trumped during his prime and the icon lost three of his final four bouts as a prizefighter more spent than a 60-year-old prostitute.
Unfortunately for Ernie Terrell, Muhammad Ali was in vintage form nearly a half-century past this week in the “Space City.”