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Feb. 25, 1964

Count the Beatles among the overwhelming majority who gave Cassius Clay, an 8-to-1 underdog with the bookmakers, no chance in his first heavyweight title fight. But “that little wanker,” as the Fab Four labelled the confident 22-year-old after a pre-fight meeting, proved the doubters wrong in his 20th professional bout. Living up to his promise to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” the undefeated and fleet-footed Louisville native took the fight to defending champion Sonny Liston, and when Liston failed to answer the bell to begin the seventh round, the contest was over. But despite pulling off “the biggest upset in the history of boxing,” in the words of former champion Joe Louis, it was the last hurrah for Cassius Clay. By the time he next took the ring, he went by a new name: Muhammad Ali.

Cassius Clay lifts Beatles member Ringo Starr while the Fab Four visited Clay's camp in Miami Beach a few days before his heavyweight title fight with Sonny Liston. Just days earlier the British musicians had appeared for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show. (AP Photo)

Cassius Clay is restrained by Drew Brown, one of his handlers, during an argument at the official weigh-in for heavyweight title fight at Miami Beach, Florida on Feb 25, 1964 as Sonny Liston, the champion, looks on. (AP Photo)

Challenger Cassius Clay is held back as Dr. Alexander Robbins, chief physician for the Liston-Clay fight, blocks his attempt to rush heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at their official weigh-in Feb. 25, 1964 in Miami Beach. Clay was fined $2,500 for this and other actions at the weigh-in for the title fight. (AP Photo)

Clay uses a variety of bobbing and weaving to stay clear of arm of Sonny Liston's left arm during their title fight in Miami Beach, Florida Feb. 25, 1964. (AP Photo)

Clay connects on a punch to Liston in the third round before a technical knockout in the seventh round of their heavyweight championship fight in Feb. 25, 1964. (AP Photo)

Clay's handlers hold him back as he reacts after he's announced the new heavyweight champion of the world on a seventh round technical knockout against Sonny Liston in Miami Beach Feb. 25, 1964. (AP Photo)

Handlers swarm over Cassius Clay after referee Barney Felix, top center, awarded Clay a technical knockout victory at the start of the seventh round in the fight with Sonny Liston. (AP Photo)

Sugar Ray Robinson, left, and Cassius Clay gesture like champs on the way to the dressing room after Clay's technical knockout victory in the seventh round over heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in Miami Beach, Florida Feb. 25, 1964. (AP Photo)