Tag: heavyweight champion

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali, 74, Boxing Legend, Self-Determination Icon and Greatest Of All Time

Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)
Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)

article by Robert Lipsyte via nytimes.com

Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.

His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.

Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.

But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain.

Ali was as polarizing a superstar as the sports world has ever produced — both admired and vilified in the 1960s and ’70s for his religious, political and social stances. His refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, his rejection of racial integration at the height of the civil rights movement, his conversion from Christianity to Islam and the changing of his “slave” name, Cassius Clay, to one bestowed by the Nation of Islam, were perceived as serious threats by the conservative establishment and noble acts of defiance by the liberal opposition.

Loved or hated, he remained for 50 years one of the most recognizable people on the planet.

In later life Ali became something of a secular saint, a legend in soft focus. He was respected for having sacrificed more than three years of his boxing prime and untold millions of dollars for his antiwar principles after being banished from the ring; he was extolled for his un-self-conscious gallantry in the face of incurable illness, and he was beloved for his accommodating sweetness in public.

In 1996, he was trembling and nearly mute as he lit the Olympic caldron in Atlanta.

That passive image was far removed from the exuberant, talkative, vainglorious 22-year-old who bounded out of Louisville, Ky., and onto the world stage in 1964 with an upset victory over Sonny Liston to become the world champion. The press called him the Louisville Lip. He called himself the Greatest.

Ali also proved to be a shape-shifter — a public figure who kept reinventing his persona.

As a bubbly teenage gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he parroted America’s Cold War line, lecturing a Soviet reporter about the superiority of the United States. But he became a critic of his country and a government target in 1966 with his declaration “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong.”

“He lived a lot of lives for a lot of people,” said the comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. “He was able to tell white folks for us to go to hell.”

If there was a supertitle to Ali’s operatic life, it was this: “I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want.” He made that statement the morning after he won his first heavyweight title. It informed every aspect of his life, including the way he boxed.

The traditionalist fight crowd was appalled by his style; he kept his hands too low, the critics said, and instead of allowing punches to “slip” past his head by bobbing and weaving, he leaned back from them.

Eventually his approach prevailed. Over 21 years, he won 56 fights and lost five. His Ali Shuffle may have been pure showboating, but the “rope-a-dope” — in which he rested on the ring’s ropes and let an opponent punch himself out — was the stratagem that won the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in 1974, the fight in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in which he regained his title.

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Muhammad Ali Released From Hospital After 3-Week Stay

Muhammad Ali

Boxing icon Muhammad Ali (pictured) was released from a hospital Tuesday night after being admitted nearly three weeks ago with what was presumed to be pneumonia.  Now it is being reported that the champ was being treated for a severe urinary tract infection, according to NBC News.

The 72-year-old, three-time world heavyweight champ also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological illness that has practically stilled his voice and slowed his movements for the last 30 years.

Reportedly, Ali is back home with his family and is now looking forward to celebrating his 73rd birthday on January 17.  Ali’s spokesperson, Bob Gunnell told ESPN, “He’s in great spirits and enjoying being back home.” Gunnell said. “He’s back in his daily routine.”

Even though Ali’s public profile has been low over the last few years, he still manages to get out every now and then.  Last September Ali was spotted at an outing where he sat in the bleachers supporting his grandson, Biaggio Ali Walsh, as the latter played football alongside Cordell Broadus, the son of famed rapper, Snoop Dogg.  The two young players with famous bloodlines are reportedly stellar gridiron athletes with scholarship potential.

Meanwhile, according to Gunnell, the Ali family is thankful for the show of love and support for the champ from well-wishers everywhere. “The Ali family greatly appreciates the outpouring of support and continued well wishes.  They also want to thank the team of doctors and nurses for their exceptional care,” he said.

article by Ruth Manuel-Logan via theurbandaily.com

Mike Tyson to Present Evander Holyfield with Boxing Hall of Fame Trophy

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield

Former heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield have come a long way since 1997, when Tyson bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear in the third round and was disqualified in their infamous championship rematch.  Over the years, they have put their ill feelings for each other to bed and even appeared in a recent television commercial spoofing the biting incident.

Tyson, who will hand Holyfield his Hall of Fame trophy, called the opportunity to present Holyfield a “privilege and high honor.”

Holyfield is also looking forward to it.  “That’s great,” he said of Tyson’s participation.

Rich Marotta, a longtime boxing broadcaster and president of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, said: “This is the kind of thing we showed is possible in boxing last year at our inaugural induction ceremony — former and even current rivals coming together under the same roof to celebrate boxing. Everyone checks those rivalries at the door. Tyson presenting Holyfield is sheer magic.”

Holyfield is being enshrined in the non-Nevada-resident category, along with George Foreman and Roberto Duran, as voted on by a 35-member panel.

Tyson was inducted in the Nevada resident category in the inaugural ceremony in 2013. Holyfield and Tyson both fought many of their biggest fights in Las Vegas.

The rest of the 18-man class of 2014, which was announced in February, includes Sonny Liston and Cornelius Boza Edwards (Nevada-resident boxers category), Jack Dempsey and Archie Moore (pioneers), Joe Louis (adoptive Nevada resident), trainer Miguel Diaz (non-boxers), Richard Steele and Kenny Bayless (officials), Col. Bob Sheridan and Kevin Iole (media), Bruce Trampler (promotions), Chuck Minker and Luther Mack (executives), and Clifford Perlman and Steve Wynn (special contributors).

article by Dan Rafael via espn.com

R.I.P. Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Ken Norton

Ken Norton connects with a left to the head of Muhammad Ali during a bout in Inglewood, Calif., in 1973.

Ken Norton, who had three memorable fights with Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali’s jaw in winning their first bout, then losing twice, and who went on to become the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, died Wednesday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. He was 70.

His death was confirmed by his son Ken Jr., an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks of the N.F.L. and a pro linebacker for 13 seasons, The Associated Press said. Norton had been in poor health for several years after sustaining a series of strokes, The A.P. reported.

Norton defeated Ali on a 12-round split decision in 1973 to capture the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. Norton was an exceptionally muscular 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, but he was a decided underdog in the first Ali fight.

“Ali thought it would be an easy fight,” Norton’s former manager, Gene Kilroy, was quoted by The A.P. as saying. “But Norton was unorthodox. Instead of jabbing from above like most fighters, he would put his hand down and jab up at Ali.”  Kilroy said that after the fight, Norton visited Ali at the hospital where he was getting his broken jaw wired, and Ali told him he never wanted to fight him again.

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