Ken Norton Sr., Heavyweight Fighter Who Beat Ali, Dies

NPR | Sept. 18, 2013 6:08 p.m.

Contributed By:

Eyder Peralta

Muhammad Ali, right, winces as Ken Norton hits him with a left to the head in their scheduled 12-round re-match, Sept. 10, 1973 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

Muhammad Ali, right, winces as Ken Norton hits him with a left to the head in their scheduled 12-round re-match, Sept. 10, 1973 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

AP

Ken Norton Sr., the heavyweight fighter who pulled off one of the greatest upsets in boxing history when he beat Muhammad Ali in 1973, has died, the AP, The Los Angeles Times and Reuters are reporting.

The Times reports that Norton died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday in Arizona. He was 70.

According to the biography on his website, Norton’s professional career started in 1967, but it was in 1973 when he got a chance at greatness. A relative unknown took on the legendary Ali for 12 rounds and won, breaking Ali’s jaw along the way.

He lost the rematch, however, and he lost against Ali again in a controversial split decision in 1976.

USA Today reports:

“In 1978, Norton, won the WBC heavyweight title but it was short-lived. He lost it to Larry Holmes that June. He lost in his rematch to Ali in Sept. 1973, and lost again in their third fight at Yankee Stadium in 1976, though he always felt he won that fight, too.

“Norton, who was born in Jacksonville, Ill., finished with a record of 42-7-1 and 33 knockouts. He later had an acting career. He was voted by Ring magazine as one of the top 25 heavyweights of all time, and was inducted into the international boxing hall of fame in 1992.

“One of his sons, Ken Norton Jr., played for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL and now coaches for the Seattle Seahawks.”

We’ll leave you with that 1973 fight. It’s the whole thing, but things get very dramatic toward the latter part of the 12th round at the 42-minute mark.

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