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Boxing legend Ken Norton dies at 70

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ken Norton was a boxing heavyweight and champion who could brag of felling sports legend Mohammed Ali during a bout in 1973. Norton and Ali would fight two more times, both narrow wins for Ali, including a controversial decision in their third and final bout at Yankee Stadium in 1976. Norton has died at the age of 70.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The former hard-bodied heavyweight with the distinctive cross-armed defense died at an Arizona hospital. Norton had been receiving treatment for a stroke he suffered last year.

The former WBC heavyweight champion had suffered from congestive heart failure, according to former friend and manager, Patrick Tenore.

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His intimidating, muscular build earned Norton the nickname "Black Hercules." After he cracked Ali's jaw in their 1973 bout, becoming just the second man to defeat Ali after Joe Frazier, he got the nickname "Jawbreaker."

No other boxer gave Ali more fits in the ring than Norton due to his size and technical abilities, according to boxing historian and Showtime announcer Steve Farhood.

A former Marine from Illinois, Norton was trained by the great Eddie Futch. He was taught to jab with Ali's jab, which would neutralize Ali's greatest asset, Farhood said.

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Norton is also credited with fighting one of the greatest rounds in heavyweight history in 1978 when he took on Larry Holmes. In their brilliant 15th round, both fighters nearly knocked the other out as Holmes earned a split-decision victory in 1978. Norton was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 and ranked 22nd among the 50 greatest heavyweights of all time.

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Norton's son, Ken Norton Jr., won three Super Bowls and is the current linebackers coach with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

"When I think of Norton I can't help but think of the greatest era in heavyweight history with Ali and George Foreman and Frazier and Earnie Shavers, and Norton was central to that," Farhood said.

"Norton definitely belongs in that group. He may not have been in the pantheon of the all-time great heavyweights but he certainly tested the greatest heavyweights and look, he beat the greatest heavyweight in history (in Ali), fought one of the greatest rounds in heavyweight history against Larry Holmes. So you have to put him up there."


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