News

Former heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton dies

Former heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton dies

Ken Norton has died at the age of 70. Photo: Reuters

By Tim Gaynor

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Ken Norton, the former heavyweight boxing champion who broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw in a 1973 bout, died on Wednesday at an Arizona hospital at age 70, his manager said.

Norton, who died in Bullhead City, near the Arizona-Nevada border, had been suffering from congestive heart failure, said Patrick Tenore, the boxer’s corporate manager and friend.

“He’s been in rehab (for ill health) for almost a year … and early this afternoon, he passed away,” Tenore told Reuters. “He was not only a tremendous boxer, but also the most righteous, polite, generous human being.”

Norton took up boxing as a heavyweight when he was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, and turned professional after his discharge in 1967, according to ESPN.

A power puncher, he burst on the scene in 1973 when he broke Ali’s jaw during their first fight, claiming the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title in a split decision over 12 rounds.

Ali’s camp said his jaw broke early in the fight, but Norton told a Reuters correspondent at a boxing convention in Cancun, Mexico, more than three decades later, that a punch thrown in the 11th round caused the fracture.

Ali narrowly won a split decision in a rematch nearly six months later, and held on to his heavyweight title in a bruising third encounter in 1976.

Norton won a heavyweight title elimination tournament the following year, and was subsequently declared champion by the World Boxing Council. He lost the title in 1978 in an epic 15-round fight with Larry Holmes.

Norton retired from the ring in 1981. He ended his career with a record of 42 wins, seven losses and a draw. He had 33 knockouts.

He took on a second career as an actor, making more than a dozen television and film appearances, including the 1975 movie “Mandingo.”

His son Ken Norton, Jr., played in the National Football League with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

Latest Headlines

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top rock tracks

godsmack

LISTEN: This week's top rock tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Sports

This week’s top sports shots

little

A look at the biggest stories and best photography in sports this week.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

yankees

A complete look at this weekend's sports schedule.

in Music

Robert Plant urges Jimmy Page to give up Led Zeppelin reunion

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Robert Plant has urged his former Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page to end his war of words with the singer and concentrate on recording new music.

in Sports

Tony Stewart returns to NASCAR racing after fatal accident

Tony Stewart smiles as he speaks with his crew before the start of the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, February 27, 2012.

Tony Stewart will return to racing this weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time since he struck and killed a young racer at a dirt track earlier this month.