WHEN Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) arrived at Renfrew Airport in August 1965, he was greeted by hundreds of adoring fans – and members of the Braemar Ladies Pipe Band from Coatbridge.

The boxer was riding high – he had sensationally beaten the world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in Miami Beach the previous February.

The visit to Glasgow was part of a long tour of exhibition matches and during his stay in the city he popped in to the BBC studios, then at Queen Margaret Drive in the west end, for a private screening of a film about his life.

Cassius Clay in Glasgow, 1965

Cassius Clay in Glasgow, 1965

Evening Times sports writer John Quinn interviewed Clay on the day – the only newspaper journalist present.

“For an hour I sat with him and watched his transformation,” he wrote. “I was the only newspaperman present to see him throw off the quiet brooding mood and revert to such sayings as, ‘I am the greatest, I am the prettiest, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’.”

Clay seemed to enjoy the film, which started with him talking to Harry Carpenter and went through every stage of his life. There were, however, a couple of awkward moments in the film, notably when one interviewee claimed that Clay was ungrateful to the people of his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

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“But there were some amusing incidents too”, Quinn wrote. “When the youngster who played the young Cassius Clay was running to school, for example, Clay squealed in joy, ‘Gee, that’s cute, that was a great idea, this is a wonderful film.’”