On January 17, 1942 - at about six thirty p.m. - the biggest sport legend of the twentieth century was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
When Odessa Clay and her husband Cassius Marcellus looked proudly at their tiny son on this winter day in Louisville they didn't dare to dream that the six and one half pound human being they held in their arms would one day be the heavyweight champion and one of the most popular men of the world.
Cassius grew up in West End Louisville, a black area, together with his younger brother Rudolph who later changed his name into Rahaman. Their father painted religious and commercial plates while Odessa Clay worked as a cleaning woman and cook in white upper-class families. Although the Clays were not very wealthy.
At the age of twelve, Cassius got into boxing. His new Schwinn bike had been stolen and on his way to the police station he met police officer Joe Martin who besides ran a boxing gym. The furious lad told Martin that he would whip the thief if he found him. Martin suggested Cassius to learn how to box properly. Cassius agreed and went to Martin's gym regularly from then on.