For The Record

Issue 14 2015


Cassius Clay takes a parachute to the Games; weightlifter Harold Sakata turns to acting; and Edwin Moses wins 122 hurdles races in a row!

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee – but take your parachute!
Cassius Clay

From weightlifting to hat throwing
Harold Sakata

Edwin Moses, the invincible man... for 10 years!
Edwin Moses

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Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee – but take your parachute!

The young American boxer Cassius Clay, 18 at the time, took part in his first Olympic Games in Rome, in 1960. The future Muhammad Ali was however so concerned about the journey, that he kept a parachute within reach all the way to the Eternal City just in case there was an accident. This fear of flying came from a bumpy flight to Los Angeles when he was going to take part in the qualifying events for the US Olympic team.

Fortunately for him, the flight to the Italian capital took place without incident. He competed in the light heavyweight (under 81kg) category, and was crowned Olympic champion. We assume that he later got over his fear, as throughout his long professional career (1960-1981), he fought on four continents and for sure had to take many planes...

In Atlanta in 1996, the organisers paid tribute to him by choosing him to light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the XXVI Olympiad.


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From weightlifting to hat throwing

The name Harold Sakata probably doesn’t mean much to you, except if you are a film buff and fan of a certain British secret agent, but you will surely recognise his face...

During his sports career, Harold Sakata won a silver medal in weightlifting at the 1948 Games in London. Later a professional wrestler, the world of film came calling in the early 1960s.

In 1964, he starred in the third episode of the James Bond film Goldfinger. He played the role of Oddjob, a henchman to the villain Auric Goldfinger, famous for throwing his razor-edged bowler hat. During filming of a scene, he accidentally injured Sean Connery, forcing him to stop filming for several days! His film career went on to last about 20 years.


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Edwin Moses, the invincible man... for 10 years!

The word “invincible” is not taken lightly when referring to this athlete. Between 1977 and 1987, the undisputed and incontestable master of the 400m hurdles won 122 consecutive races. This had never been seen before in athletics! He was beaten only in June 1987 by Danny Harris.

Gold medallist at the 1976 and 1984 Games, he did not compete in the Moscow Games because of the boycott. He held the world 400m hurdles record from 1976 to 1992. His world record was finally broken by Kevin Young at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Twenty-three years later, Young still holds the world record of the 400m hurdles.

Edwin Moses ended his career with a bronze medal in Seoul in 1988. This made him one of only two three-time Olympic medallists at this distance, the other being his compatriot, Morgan Taylor.

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