Muhammad Ali and the Olympics

Muhammad Ali and the Olympics
Lady Bird Johnson: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Three to four class periods


The year was 1960; the place, Rome, Italy.  Muhammad Ali won the Olympic gold medal in lightweight boxing. While Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were unknowingly preparing for Presidency, Muhammad Ali was a rising star in the boxing world.  This lesson places students in the United States in 1960 using photographs of Muhammad Ali taken at the time.  Students will compose newspaper articles about the photographs using their imagination to generate the story.  The best article of each student will be compiled into a class newspaper from 1960.


Students will view photographs taken in 1960.
Students will write mock newspaper articles.
Students will create a class newspaper using the articles.

Materials Required:

Computer, Internet access, word-processing program (MS Word), printer.


  1. Introduce students to the lesson by summarizing the introduction above and by providing a brief history of the event.
  2. Create the setting for the assignment by informing the students that they will imagine themselves living in 1960.
  3. Use the links below for photographs from 1960.  Allow students to view all the photos, and ask them to select five and write one short  ‘newspaper article’ that would accompany each photograph. (Students will have approximately five articles when completed.)  Instruct students not to use the title in the link.  They must be creative and create their own topic to describe the photograph and associated article which they create.
  4. Randomly assign each student a ‘code number’ to write on the back of each of their articles so that their name will not be revealed to other students during peer review.
  5. Once completed, distribute student work back to the class for peer review.
  6. Students are to write reviews of each article, and should decide on which article they feel is the best.  Use the votes as well as comments to decide which one should be used in the compiled class newspaper.
  7. Take the best article from each student and either delegate or ask for volunteers to various ‘departments’ for the class newspaper.  The images should be provided with the article so students and other readers have the visual that was used to create the article.
  8. Involve students in creating their class newspaper, complete with computer-generated newspaper layout in the word processing program, photos, and the articles. On the front page have the students create a headline and cover story about the events surrounding Muhammad Ali winning the Olympic gold medal in lightweight boxing. 

Extending the Lesson:

  • Create a mock news television program using the articles as the focus of news announcements.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University