Memories of Miami’s Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight in 1964 remain vivid | Opinion

Boxing history

On the morning of Feb. 24, 1964, I sat in my office reviewing last minute details to the Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight to take place later that night at the Miami Beach Convention Center, when Clay’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, entered and asked for a favor.

With the weigh-in scheduled within a few hours, media clamored for a chance to see Clay, ask questions and take photos. Dundee needed a way for Clay to escape the noise. I was assistant manager assigned to the match and quickly created a plan. I reached out to Dundee, who agreed to it. He asked that no one in my office be made aware of it or the reason for it.

At the appointed hour, I met Dundee and Clay at the side entrance to the convention center. Clay was calm, very subdued. He shook my hand. I wondered what was going through Clay’s mind. He showed zero emotion.

We reached the door that led to a small alley separating the weigh-in room from the main building. Dundee was nervous, like an anxious father. He asked, “Are you ready?” Clay simply nodded.

When I opened the door, all hell broke loose. Clay ranted and raved and screamed at Liston. He waved his arms frantically, his voice echoed through the alley. Media and fight officials thought the young boxer had lost his mind.

Liston’s eyes were like saucers. Perhaps at that moment, he lost his edge. This transformation was to be part of Clay’s career, as he became Muhammad Ali shortly after the fight.

Sixty years have passed but the images are so vivid, it seems like it happened yesterday. I was a witness to history, a moment in time I will never forget.

Stu Blumberg,


Playhouse plans

The Feb. 22 story, “Coconut Grove Playhouse revival plan critics lose in court again, vow to keep fighting,” gave the wrong message. It’s not about a group of Grove activists; it’s about the thousands who voted for full restoration. The county’s plan is not about a revival for the Playhouse, but a demolition project.

The conflict and bias started with the three judges who seemingly all work for the county. They should have recused themselves.

To say that no fleshed-out alternative plan has surfaced is also wrong. There is a wonderful restoration plan. Mike Eidson developed one in 2008 in conjunction with Richard Heisenbottle, a renowned local restoration architect.

Building a mall and a 300-seat theater that is smaller than the auditorium at a nearby school is no win for a community.

Maria Cristina Abello,


Let’s do better

I urge my fellow American citizens to stop blaming all our problems on recent immigrants. We must find reasonable solutions instead of using an easy scapegoat.

This type of ignorant and racist attitude prohibited the German transatlantic liner MS St. Louis from disembarking 900 Jewish refugees in Havana, Cuba, and in Florida in 1939.

Let us learn from history and not repeat the same mistake.

Celia Kaufman,

Coral Gables

Driving directions

Florida’s recent passage of legislation, HB317, outlawing “cruising in the left lane” will have no more effect than Florida Statute 316.081, which passed in 2018, if not accompanied by an educational campaign of some sort.

Many of our citizens do not know that “keep right” legislation exists or its meaning. A “Keep right unless passing-It’s the law” message on the illuminated signs over our highways would have a powerful effect.

Glenn Patron,

Coconut Grove

GOP hates Ukraine

Anyone who knows Ukrainians knows that they are a pretty conservative bunch, by and large. Home and family are primary. They are a Judeo Christian-based society dating to 988, two centuries before Moscow was a speck on a map.

Why do Christian nationalists in the Republican Party treat Ukrainians as non-Christians?

Christian nationalists have adopted Donald Trump as their political standard bearer and have imbued him with a kind of zeal for one that is heaven sent. Unfortunately for Ukrainians, these same politicians in the U. S. House of Representatives are calling the shots on Ukraine aid.

According to a 2023 report by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, more than half of the GOP House caucus opposes aid to Ukraine, Israel and other foreign nations. Trump controls these votes, including House Speaker Mike Johnson’s, and for vague reasons sees it in his best interests to oppose Ukraine funding.

Like Russian President Vladimir Putin and his subservient Russian Orthodox Church, it boils down to irreligious autocrats blessed by subservient and opportunistic church leaders.

Our separation of church and state is eroding before our eyes.

Steven Richards,

West Kendall

Two sides, same coin

How can those who accuse President Joe Biden of being a “socialist” approve and endorse Donald Trump’s unabashed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the face of communism?

Trump goads Russia to attack our allies and eschew an alliance that has served us well for more than 75 years.

How can one bash socialism while coddling Marxism?

Emilio de la Cal,

Coral Gables

Portion sizes

The Feb. 20 letter, “Less is more,” blames President Biden as the cause of shrinkflation. This not only is complete nonsense, it diverts blame from the real culprits: corporate conglomerates in total concert with each other. No matter which brand of orange juice, mayonnaise or ice cream (just to mention a few products), they all shrank at the same time by the same amount long before Biden became president.

Additionally, if politicians are responsible for inflation, how to explain that Florida’s inflation rate is now is nearly three times the national average? This state has been controlled by a GOP majority (now a super-majority) for many years.

In this age of global economics, inflation is a global issue. The United States’ 3.1% rate is far less than most other countries.

As bad as shrinkflation is, we should all be more concerned about the ingredients manufacturers are using in their processed foods than about the size of their products. They keep adding more and more sugar and salt to almost everything to take advantage of our addictions.

John Adams,

Palmetto Bay

Never grow up

Using some very twisted logic, the Alabama Supreme Court has declared that frozen embryos are people. This leads to some very interesting conundrums. Using the same deep logic, one must assume that embryos on ice for 18 years are therefore adults.

How will they get their driver’s licenses and what would their picture IDs look like? How do we register them to vote and give them the opportunity to buy their first gun? How do we congratulate them on getting a head start on collecting Social Security and joining AARP?

On the darker, more perilous track, would a woman who participates in any form of risky activity and then miscarries an implanted embryo be charged with child endangerment and infanticide?

Unfortunately, with the trends in allowing women to control their bodies and reproductive rights, we know the answer to this.

Would a fertility clinic that refuses to release embryos due to lack of payment be charged with kidnapping for ransom?

If a couple no longer wants their embryos and leaves them at the clinic, would they be charged with child abandonment? If a couple asks that their embryos be destroyed because they are no longer needed be charged with illegal abortion and murder?

We are living in dangerously nonsensical times.

Michael Marmesh,


Shiny hokum

Many, for various reasons, suggest Jimmy Carter’s presidency was a failed effort. Even his detractors, however, acknowledge Carter’s stellar post-presidency. He is the gold standard of how we expect a former president to behave.

Donald Trump, in his latest fund-raising effort, has ironically given us an alternative to that: gold sneakers.

Sid Kaskey,

South Miami