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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

2010 11 14 - BBCR4 - When Cassius Met The Beatles

The tale of an unexpected encounter between 20th century legends -
a meeting which created a new template for global celebrity.
February 1964: The Beatles fly into Miami, sparking Beatlemania as
they prepare to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Meanwhile in a low-rent Miami gym, the underdog Cassius Clay trains
to fight reigning champion Sonny Liston for the world title. The
 pundits say Clay hasn't a hope. Quite unexpectedly, the
paths of these legendary figures cross.

British photographer Harry Benson arranges for The Beatles to
visit Cassius Clay in the gym. Clay picks up Ringo and swings
him around the ring as if he's no heavier than a toddler,
as the other band-members lie at his feet. Clay pretends to
knock all four Beatles down with a single punch. The resulting
images remain in the memory long after this brief encounter.

The Beatles triumph on TV. Cassius Clay amazes all the
boxing writers by defeating Liston. They suddenly both find
themselves on the cusp of a new kind of stardom - they're
young, outspoken and able to capture the global imagination.

John Wilson reports from Miami on the background to this
unique encounter, with the memories of three people who
were there at the time: photographer Harry Benson, who
was travelling with the Beatles, writer Robert Lipsyte, who
was covering the fight for the New York Times as a rookie
reporter, and fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco, then working
at the gym in Miami. All witnessed the moment when
Cassius met The Beatles.
John also taps the memories of Paul McCartney.
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