Tag Archives: Wilma Rudolph

TSU track and field icons remember Muhammad Ali

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A few years before Muhammad Ali became a heavyweight champion, legendary track and field coach Ed Temple said the young fighter told him he would one day hold the title.

The former Tennessee State University coach said in an interview shortly after Ali’s death on June 3 that he first met the brazen boxer at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Temple, who was the U.S. women’s track coach, said he had just finished practicing and was sitting on a bench in the Olympic Village when then-Cassius Clay sat down beside him.

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TSU Olympic legends Ralph Boston and Wilma Rudolph hang out with Muhammad Ali during one of his visits to Tennessee State University. (TSU archives)

Temple said the two talked for more than 30 minutes. During their discussion, he said Clay talked about his aspirations, boasting that he would one day be “the heavyweight champion of the world,” Temple recalled.

Toward the end of their conversation, Temple said someone ran by yelling that Floyd Patterson was in the village. Patterson was the heavyweight champion at the time. Temple said when he asked Clay if he was going to see Patterson, he said “no.”

“People are going to be running to see me one day,” Temple said Clay told him.

Clay, who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali, went on to win a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics as a light heavyweight, and eventually became heavyweight champion in 1964 when he beat Sonny Liston in a sixth-round technical knockout that stunned a Miami Beach crowd. In the ring, Ali proclaimed, “I am the greatest! I am the greatest! I’m the king of the world.”

A year later, Ali fought Floyd Patterson and knocked him out in the 12th round to hold onto his title.

Despite his cockiness, Olympic gold medalist and TSU alumnus Ralph Boston said Ali was a friendly person. Boston, who won a gold medal in the long jump competition at the 1960 Olympics, said he and Ali met in New York while they were waiting to board a plane for Rome.

“He had brashness, but he was always very cordial,” Boston said.

Temple and Boston said Ali was also very fond of TSU alumna Wilma Rudolph, who in 1960 became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympics.

They said after they met Ali in Rome he stayed in contact, particularly with Rudolph, and made several stops at TSU to see them on his way to training camp in Miami.

Temple also recalled a banquet where both Ali and Rudolph had been asked to speak. During his speech, he said Ali bragged about the gold medal he won. When he sat down next to Rudolph, Temple said she leaned over and whispered in his ear: “You won one, I won three.”

Temple said the two remained close friends up until her death.

Ali was 74 when he died at a hospital near Phoenix, Arizona. A family spokesman said he was being treated for respiratory complications. Ali had battled Parkinson’s disease for 32 years.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

First Lady Pays Tribute to Wilma Rudolph During TSU Visit, Reads to more than 25 Anxious Children

First Lady Crissy Haslam reads to more than 25 young girls from Girls On the Run Nashville during her visit to Tennessee State University Feb. 19. Haslam was at the University as part of her Read20 Family Book Club initiative. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
First Lady Crissy Haslam reads to more than 25 young girls from Girls On the Run Nashville during her visit to Tennessee State University Feb. 19. Haslam was at the University as part of her Read20 Family Book Club initiative. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As part of Black History Month celebration, Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam used her Read20 Family Book Club to pay tribute to legendary Olympic champion and Tennessee State University great Wilma Rudolph during a program Wednesday at the Edward S. Temple Track on campus.

Since February not only serves as Black History Month, but also the backdrop for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Haslam said she selected “Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman,” for her book of the month to inspire children about Rudolph’s story about overcoming adversity.

The book, a dramatic and inspiring true story illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings, highlights the TSU alumna and Olympian, who overcame a distinct illness to win three gold medals.

“Wilma Rudolph made an incredible impact on society for African Americans, for women and for all people who have hurdles to clear,” Haslam said to members of the TSU track team, and more than 25 anxious and cheering members of Girls on the Run, a youth development program for girls in third through eighth grades.

“Her journey is particularly inspiring this month as we celebrate African-American history and enjoy the 2014 Winter Olympics,” she added

Joining Haslam at the program was former Olympic champion and head coach of the TSU track and field program, Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, who thanked the first lady for selecting TSU for her book-of-the-month reading.

“We appreciate you coming on our campus to grace us with your presence, and for inspiring these students by highlighting the story of Wilma Rudolph, who was an inspiration to me as an athlete and so many others,” Cheeseborough-Guice said.

Also receiving special recognition at the program was Yolanda Kovan Rudolph, Wilma Rudolph’s eldest daughter, who is also a former TSU student.

Following the program, the students from Girls on the Run, under the direction of Coach Cheeseborough-Guice, performed drills with the TSU women’s track and field team.

“I am truly inspired by the first lady’s initiative,” said Charis Quarles, a sophomore Theater major from Nashville, who is manager of the TSU men and women’s track program. “It was really nice for her to be able to come and support these young children.”

As part of her effort to promote parent engagement in education, Haslam launched the Rdead20 Family Book Club nearly two years ago, giving Tennessee families a fun goal of reading together every day. Books of different reading levels and styles of writing are selected each month to help children foster love for reading and learning.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.