The Games of the XVII Olympiad took place from August 25 to September 11, 1960, in Rome Italy. There were 5,338 participants of which, 611 were women. The Games were a mix of both the old and the new in Italy. An Olympic Stadium and Sports Complex were built for the Games, and such ancient sites as the Basilica of Maxentius and the Baths of Caracalla were restored to host wrestling and gymnastic events. The 1960’s games were the first to be covered fully by television and broadcast live in 18 European countries, and with a few hour delays in Japan, Canada, and the United States. The 1960 Summer Games were the last Games in which South Africa was allowed to participate in for 32 years, in protest to the racist policies of the South African government. The country returned to the Games in 1992, after the abolishment of apartheid.
Among the very talented participants of the Games, two standout; runner Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia, and boxer Cassius Clay from the United States.
Twenty-eight year old Abebe Bikila not only won the gold medal in the marathon, he did it barefoot. Bikila, who trained barefoot, decided to run barefoot in the Games also. At the Obelisk of Axum, a monument taken by Italian troops from Ethiopia, and erected in Rome, Bikila started to pull away from his competition and won the marathon by 200 meters. He went on to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in the marathon, becoming the only man to ever win the gold in two marathons.
Cassius Clay, an eighteen year old from Louisville, Kentucky, came to the World stage during the gold medal light-heavyweight boxing match versus Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland. Clay won an unanimous decision to claim the gold in the event. Clay, later changing his name to Muhammed Ali after converting to Islam in 1964, went on to become the heavy-weight Champion of the World. Ali continues to be one of the most recognized athletes in the World who could “sting like a butterfly and sting like a bee”.