In the wondrously domed and palatially lighted Palazzo dello Sport (right) three well-trained U.S. boxers fought exciting final matches and won gold medals. Only the 1952 team, which included Floyd Patterson, ever won so many Olympic titles.
Before a capacity crowd of 16,200, Light Middleweight Wilbert McClure met Italy's Carmelo Bossi. McClure lost the first round by doing exactly nothing to win it, and was still unimpressive in the second. In his corner between rounds, he got a furious tongue-lashing from Coach Jules Menendez, then came out and attacked Bossi fiercely. It saved the fight for McClure, three of the judges voting for him and two calling it a draw.
Middleweight Eddie Crook took an even closer decision from Poland's Tadeusz Walasek. Walasek bloodied Crook's nose in the last minute of the third round, and the crowd, which seemed to be judging by street-fight standards, threatened to raise the Palazzo dome with its boos when the split decision for the American was announced.
The most popular U.S. win was that of lighthearted Light Heavyweight Cassius Marcellus Clay. It took two rounds for Clay to solve the southpaw attack of Poland's Zbigniew Pietrzykowski. But in the third he established instant command and toyed with the defenseless Pole. At 18, Clay was the best of our boxers in Rome, but he never caught a really hard punch. Could he take it if hurt? "Man," says Clay. "I don't want ever to get hurt."