A camel coloured, aged, leather boxing glove lies on its side. All stories

Gallery Highlight: Float like a Butterfly, Sting like Muhammad Ali

21 September 2022

By Victoria Cosgrove

The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM)’s Olympic Gallery showcases a leather glove belonging to one of the greatest boxers of all time.

As part of its mission to share the story of global sport, QOSM has curated a collection of objects from some of the most notable historic moments and distinguished personalities in sport history.

This boxing glove belongs to perhaps the most charismatic athlete ever: the one and only Muhammad Ali.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, Ali started boxing at only 12 years old, and climbed up the ranks of the sport with every match. While he was also famous for landing verbal jabs at his opponents, his boxing prowess was what spoke volumes, defeating every top professional heavyweight boxer of his time.

His skill and confidence took him to the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where he won a gold medal in the heavyweight category.

His freestyle poetry, including lines such as ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’, perfectly described his phenomenal speed and grace in the boxing ring. And his fearless, rhythmic stylings were so profound, many of the world’s biggest hip-hop artists, such as Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, credit Ali with being the inspiration behind their own powerful lyricism.

A signature on caramel leather says 'Cassius Marcellus Clay, Rome Bound'.

Ali's signature on the worn glove leather reads: 'Cassius Marcellus Clay “Rome Bound"'. Photo: Mohammed Faris Edakkunimal, courtesy of Qatar Museums ©2022

Ali also used his words for activism. He was politically outspoken and a hero to his fellow Americans for his advocacy during the U.S. Civil Right movement. He converted to Islam, was a supporter of Palestine and refused to fight in the Vietnam War – a stand for which he lost his boxing title in ‘67.

Less than a decade later, Ali reclaimed his crown in matches against both Joe Frazier and George Foreman, whom he defeated in the memorable ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire in ‘74.

This glove, part of QOSM’s permanent collection, shows 18-year-old Clay’s tenacity as he sits on the edge of superstardom. The Winnwell left-handed glove is annotated with a number of Ali’s wins. On the worn leather, he writes:

‘I am the 1959 National A.A.U. Champion (LIGHT) (HEAVYWEIGHT).

I am the 1960 National A.A.U. Champion (LIGHT) (HEAVY W.)

I am the 1959 National Golden Gloves Champion (LIGHT HEAVY W.)

I am the 1960 National Golden Gloves Champion (HEAVYWEIGHT.)

I am the 1960 United States Olympic Champion (LIGHT HEAVY W.).

Your Friend,

Cassius Marcellus Clay

“Rome Bound”’

Penned annotations on a caramel leather glove, detailing boxing wins credited to Muhammad Ali.

A number of Ali's wins are annotated on the left-hand boxing glove. Photo: Mohammed Faris Edakkunimal, courtesy of Qatar Museums ©2022

Ali died in 2016 after a three decade-long battle with Parkinson’s disease made his two greatest assets a growing challenge - his verbal tenacity and his athletic genius.

Muhammad Ali’s boxing glove is displayed in the Olympic Gallery, alongside other objects of Olympic and sporting significance, underlining the museum’s mission to inspire and unlock athletic potential in Qatar.

Plan your visit today to see the complete collection.

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