When Muhammad Ali ‘Tossed His Medals in Ohio River’ After Facing Racism

In 1960, despite his medal win, Ali faced racism in his own hometown and was refused service at at a restaurant.

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Video Producer: Aparna Singh

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

On 30 May, India almost lost some of its Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship medals when the protesting ace wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia decided to consign their medals in the river Ganga demanding action against Wrestling Federation of India Chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is accused of sexual harassment.


Similarly, in Manipur, 13 medallists, including weightlifter Mirabhai Chanu and world boxing champion Laishram Sarita Devi threatened to return their medals if their demand to safeguard Manipur’s unity and integrity is not met.

They have written to Ministry of Home Affairs about the ongoing unrest in the state. 


And here’s a sportsperson who claims to have done the unthinkable. 

Olympic gold medallist American boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who emerged as ‘The Greatest’ in his generation, wrote in his autobiography that despite winning so many accolades he faced racism. 

In 1960, Ali won the Olympic gold medal. He was so overjoyed that he did not “take his medals off for 48 hours”.


Despite the medal win, he was reportedly refused service at a restaurant that served only white people and also got into a fight with a ‘white gang’.

Ali said that he tossed his medal into river Ohio after the fight. But Thomas Hauser, author of ‘Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times’, said Ali had simply lost the medal. 

And was finally given a replica of the medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.   

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Topics:  Sexual Harassment   Racism   Muhammad Ali 

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