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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS

The Rest of the Story: Ali Gets a Replica of His 1960 Gold Medal

August 04, 1996|MIKE DOWNEY

ATLANTA — At halftime of Saturday night's U.S.-Yugoslavia men's basketball game, Muhammad Ali was presented a replica of the gold medal he won in boxing at the 1960 Rome Olympics, which he had either lost or thrown away, depending on whom you believe.

The story goes that a young Cassius Clay, angry at indignities such as being refused service at a restaurant in Louisville, Ky., walked to the middle of a bridge and threw his medal into the Ohio River. Ali has since claimed to have fabricated this tale. The medal was supposedly misplaced.

Thirty-six years later, Ali kissed the duplicate medal given to him by Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, in an emotional ceremony at the Georgia Dome.

Ali was mobbed by Dream Team players, as well as Yugoslavia's, and posed for photographs with both sides. It capped an eventful Olympics for the former champion, who was the surprise torch-lighter of the opening ceremonies.

In a barely audible voice, with trembling fingers, Ali shook the hand of Samaranch and said, "Thank you very, very much for this."

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