2013 Archives

'Fetch Clay, Make Man': Ali, Fetchit And The 'Anchor Punch'


The following story ran on the Oct. 11, 2013, edition of NPR's All Things Considered program. Will Power is an Artist-in-Residence at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts.

October 15, 2013

By Mike Pesca

Muhammad Ali's first title defense, a first-round TKO of Sonny Liston in 1965, propelled Ali to the status of icon. In Ali's training camp before the fight was an icon from an earlier era: Lincoln Perry. He was the first African-American movie star, who went by the stage name Stepin Fetchi. The relationship between the two men is the subject of an off-Broadway play called Fetch Clay, Make Man.

By the spring of 1965, Muhammad Ali had spent less than a year as heavyweight champion of the world. He had recently joined the Nation of Islam and shed his former name, Cassius Clay. Ali was a newlywed, his friend Malcolm X had been assassinated, and boxing fans considered him an underdog in the upcoming fight against Sonny Liston.

Playwright Will Power knew all that....


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