Saturday, February 25, 2017

1964: Clay beat Liston for his first heavyweight crown

By February 1964, Cassius Clay was a 22-year old Olympic gold medalist (1960) and looking for first title.   On this day in 1964, he got it with a technical knockout of Sonny Liston:   
The highly anticipated match took place in Miami Beach, Florida. Clay, who later became known to the world as Muhammad Ali, went on to become the first fighter to capture the heavyweight title three times.
Liston was a reserved, feared fighter, a decade older than Cassius Clay, and had been world heavyweight champ since defeating Floyd Patterson in 1962. 
By contrast, Clay was a mouthy underdog who had won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. While training for their fight, Clay, a natural self-promoter, taunted Liston and boasted to reporters that he would win by knockout. Clay came out strong during the fight, using speed and footwork to his advantage against the slower Liston. 
After the sixth round, Liston, who was suffering from cuts and bruises under his eyes and an apparent injured shoulder, announced he couldn’t continue. 
Clay won the match by technical knockout and then announced to the world, “I am the greatest!”
On May 25, 1965, the two fighters met in Lewiston, Maine, for a rematch. The bout ended with a highly controversial first-round knockout for Clay, who by then had become a member of the Nation of Islam and taken a Muslim name, Muhammad Ali.
It was the beginning of the legend of Ali.



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