Training the Greatest: The Story of Ali and Dundee

The First Meeting

Photograph and caption courtesy of the Courier-Journal, February 15, 1957.

The First Meeting

While Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee did not begin working together until 1960, they met previously in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in February of 1957. Dundee was in Louisville to train another champion fighter of his, Willie Pastrano, for a fight that took place there later that same month. While in a room at the Sheraton Hotel, Dundee and Pastrano received a call from the lobby.

"Hi, my name is Cassius Marcellus Clay," the caller stated, "I'm the Golden Gloves Champion from Louisville. I won the Gloves in Chicago, and I'm going to win the Olympics." 

Dundee, of course, had to laugh as he reported to Pastrano, "There's some kind of nut downstairs who wants to come up." Pastrano explained that there was not anything on television, so why not let the kid come up? Thus, young Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) and his brother made their way up to the trainer's room, and did not leave for three-and-a-half hours, as he needed to know everything about boxing. 

This was not only the first meeting between Ali and Dundee, but it was also when Dundee knew that he had met a very special individual. After this initial meeting, every time Dundee found himself in Louisville with one of his boxers, Ali would be close behind them asking questions, befriending the fighters, and sometimes even carrying their bags.


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