It was just over a week after The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, spreading Beatlemania from across the Atlantic, to the US and around the world. On February 18th, 1964, the Fab Four were in unfamiliar territory while in Miami: a boxing ring. The Beatles posed with the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, Cassius Clay. One week later, Clay “shook up the world” by defeating Sonny Liston.
On March 1st, 1964, Ed Sullivan would state on his show: “I saw the Liston-Clay fight. This was a stinker of all time. I swear the Beatles could beat the two of ’em! No kidding!”
Shortly after his defeat of Liston, Clay joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
English pop group The Beatles mock-sparring with American boxer Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) at his training centre in Miami, 22nd February 1964. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Boxer Cassius Clay lifts Ringo Starr, one of the Beatles into the air while the singers visited Clay’s camp in Miami Beach, Fla. , February 18, 1964. Others are, from left: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon. (AP Photo)
February 1964: American heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay poses in the ring in mock victory over British pop group The Beatles, meeting the press in New York during an American tour. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
The Beatles, from left, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney spar up to Cassius Clay while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. ,Feb. 18,1964. (AP Photo/stf)
The Beatles, from right to left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr pretent to be knocked out by a fake blow from Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), lying on the floor of the ring, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Florida, USA, Feb. 18,1964. (AP Photo)
FILE – In this Feb. 18, 1964, file photo, The Beatles, from left, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, take a fake blow from Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, while visiting the heavyweight contender at his training camp in Miami Beach, Fla. Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/File)
Challenger Cassius Clay throws a straight left to the face of Charles “Sonny” Liston in third round of their heavyweight championship fight at Convention Hall in Miami Beach, Fla., on Feb. 25, 1964. The 22-year-old Clay, of Louisville, Ky., defeated Liston in a technical knockout to become the world heavyweight champion. (AP Photo)