Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.

Cassius Marcellus Clay (November 11, 1912 – February 8, 1990) was an American painter and musician. He was the father of three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali and Rahman Ali, and the paternal grandfather of Laila Ali. He married Odessa Lee O'Grady in 1934 and worked as a painter. He was described as "a handsome, mercurial, noisy, combative failed dreamer"[1] and a "hard-drinking, skirt-chasing dandy of a daddy".[2] His son Muhammad Ali described him as "the fanciest dancer in Louisville".[3]

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.
Cassius Marcellus Clay

(1912-11-11)November 11, 1912
DiedFebruary 8, 1990(1990-02-08) (aged 77)
Occupation(s)Painter, musician
(m. 1934)
ChildrenMuhammad Ali
Rahman Ali

Biography edit

Clay was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the son of Herman H. Clay (March 1876 – February 1, 1954) and Edith E. Greathouse (December 1889 – December 30, 1972[4]). He was named in honor of the 19th-century Republican politician and staunch abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay. He had a sister and four brothers, including Nathaniel Clay.[5][6] Clay's paternal grandparents were John Clay and Sallie Anne Clay. His sister Eva said that Sallie was a native of Madagascar.[7] According to DNA research, Muhammad Ali's paternal grandmother was Archer Alexander's (1816–1880) great-granddaughter.[8]

Clay painted billboards and signs.[9] He also played the piano, took piano lessons and wrote music. Around 1933, he married Odessa Lee O'Grady.[10] He was a heavy drinker, which led to legal entanglements for reckless driving, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery.[11] When asked in 1970 why he had not become a Muslim as his son had done, he said: "my religion is my talent, that which supports me."[12]

Clay died at the age of 77 on February 8, 1990, after suffering a heart attack while leaving a department store in Kentucky.[6]

Legacy edit

Clay was portrayed by Arthur Adams in the 1977 film The Greatest and by Giancarlo Esposito in the 2001 Oscar-nominated film Ali.[13]

References edit

  1. ^ Lipsyte, Robert (March 7, 1971). "I Don't Have to Be What You Want Me to Be". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  2. ^ "Ali". The Guardian. London. November 2, 2003. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  3. ^ Lee Eisenberg (September 1984). Fifty who made the difference. ISBN 0-394-53912-5.
  4. ^ "Ancestry of Muhammad Ali". Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  5. ^ "Barber Can Relax Hair". The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 15, 1997. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  6. ^ a b "Cassius Marcellus Clay., Former Champion's Father, 77". Associated Press in The New York Times. February 10, 1990. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  7. ^ Egerton (1991), p. 134
  8. ^ DNA evidence links Muhammad Ali to heroic slave, family says Archived 2019-04-04 at the Wayback Machine Ben Strauss, Washington Post, October 2, 2018
  9. ^ "The Dream". Time magazine. March 22, 1963. Archived from the original on August 24, 2013. Retrieved 2009-09-04. But the Clays have been there for six generations—ever since their ancestors worked first as slaves, then as farm laborers on the plantation of Cassius Marcellus Clay, who was Lincoln's Minister to Russia.
  10. ^ Egerton, John (September 28, 1980). "Ali's Kentucky Roots". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  11. ^ "Growing Up Scared in Louisville". Sports Illustrated. April 18, 1966. Archived from the original on January 27, 2014. Retrieved 2009-09-04. More than once Odessa Clay had her husband brought into court for roughing her up. Cassius Sr. was also arrested for reckless driving, disorderly conduct and assault and battery, always after he had been drinking.... [He] "isn't a criminal or even an evil man. He's just a frustrated little guy who can't drink. He never served any time and he never will."
  12. ^ "Words of the week". Jet magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. November 12, 1970. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  13. ^ "Ali (2001)". The Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-09-04.

External links edit