Cruz Should Pull a Cassius Clay

(L) Cassius Clay (R) Sonny Liston fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the World on February 25, 1964. Clay won and immediately changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Photo Credits: AP Archives
(L) Cassius Clay (R) Sonny Liston fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the World on February 25, 1964. Clay won and immediately changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
Photo Credits: AP Archives

Tonight, if I were Ted Cruz, I would pull a Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) on Donald Trump. Since Trump has decided that he will skip tonight’s debate over what he perceives to be a slight by Fox News executives, I would take the fight to him.

Many, at least, in my generation, will recall that in the summer of 1963, Sonny Liston was the Heavyweight Champion of the World. The young brash Cassius Clay had defeated all of his opponents, but he could not get a championship fight with Liston.

Liston fought Floyd Patterson twice in ’63, handling defeating him both times. He appeared to be afraid of the quick witted, bombastic boxer from Kentucky. Clay knew the only way he could become champion of the world was to get Liston in the ring. The only problem was, Liston did not want to risk his belt on a loudmouth upstart. He ducked and dodged any discussion of a match with Clay.

Cruz is faced with a similar conundrum.  The only person standing between Clay and the Heavyweight Belt in ’63 was Sonny Liston, and Liston was not about to fight Clay. In Iowa, only Trump can stop Cruz from winning Monday’s caucus. But Trump refuses to meet Cruz on center stage in tonight’s debate.

Here is where Clay got creative and where Ted Cruz could show some creativity too. Clay hounded Liston everywhere Liston went, demanding that Liston fight him. He called Liston, “a chump” and an “ugly bear.” Clay showed up at a Vegas nightclub where Liston was clubbing and even showed up outside Liston’s home, chiding Liston to come out and fight him.

Suddenly, the press stopped covering the movements of Liston the champion and began to focus on Liston’s refusal to give Clay the fight he wanted. Clay rained on Liston’s parade and Liston finally consented to give him a fight.

When Clay got Liston in the ring, he danced and pranced and left Liston, bloodied and beaten, seating on his stool after the sixth round.

Cruz has nothing to lose. If he shows up for the scheduled debate, Trump is not there to give the debate any context. It hardly matters what any of the six candidates in tonight’s debate say.

Inasmuch as, every media outlet, including perhaps, Fox News will cover the Trump event; Cruz, if he was smart would show up at Trump’s event and demand “The Donald ” come out and debate him on the spot.

By doing so he would take the spotlight away from Trump. This antic would force Trump to either come out and play or duck and dodge like Liston did Clay. Cruz would get coverage on two fronts.

First, Fox News would play up the fact that Cruz is not at tonight’s debate, opting instead to stand outside Trump’s event until Trump comes out to debate him. This bold move should live several news cycles, at least up to Monday night’s Caucus. 

Second, Cruz would garner media coverage from those outlets assembled to cover Trump’s fundraiser.

How could Trump, risk having the veterans call him “a Chump” in the face of Cruz’s challenge?

Perhaps the best way to beat Trump is to do the same things that he is doing, only more outrageously.


Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at



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Published by Michael

Harold Michael Harvey is a Past President of The Gate City Bar Association and is the recipient of the Association’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award. He is the author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, and a two-time winner of Allvoices’ Political Pundit Prize. His work has appeared in Facing South, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Black Colleges Nines, and Medium.

6 replies on “Cruz Should Pull a Cassius Clay”

  1. Agree ! If the fight won’t come to you … you bring the fight to him . He will gain respect and show the people that he is not afraid of Trump . I also think he thought he would insult Meagan Kelly once again by having Fox chose who would be there … Meagan or Himself … he is probably still trying to get over the fact they didn’t eliminate her for him. Great article !

  2. I like this idea. However you should have called him and told him that before they Started Sparring?
    Wow, I was 4 but my father watched Boxing?
    Trump is a Rich, Big- Mouth Man.
    Money Can Buy Anything?Not

  3. Congratulations, you nailed it…this should be a word to the wise if they are really serious about winning anything…

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