Boxer Ken Norton dies at 70

Ken Norton, who fought three memorable fights with Muhammad Ali, breaking his 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, Nev. He was 70.
His death was confirmed by his son Ken Jr., an assistant coach with the N.F.L.’s Seattle Seahawks 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.

Boxer Ken Norton dies at 70

Ken Norton.

Norton died in Arizona, where he had been living since suffering a stroke last year. He had been in failing health for a several years.
Norton had overcome two earlier strokes, prostate cancer, a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, and survived a terrible car accident in 1986 in which he broke his jaw, ribs and legs, fractured his skull and suffered a brain injury that slurred his speech.
In 1978 – Norton was awarded a share of the WBC heavyweight title when Leon Spinks chose to fight Ali for more money and was stripped of the title. But Norton’s title reign was short-lived. He lost it for good in a tough split decision loss to undefeated Larry Holmes that June, thus becoming the only heavyweight champion to never win a title fight. His fight against Holmes is considered one of the greatest fights of all time.
Holmes reigned for the next seven years.
Norton finished with a record of 42:7:1 and 33 knockouts, and went into acting after he retired. He starred in Mandingo and was supposed to play Apollo Creed in Rocky but when he pulled out, Carl Weathers was selected.

Forty years after rising to the top of the boxing world and outdueling Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton lost his final fight – a battle following a stroke – at a Nevada medical facility, a friend said.
He was 70 years old when he died Wednesday at a Veterans Affairs’ medical facility in Henderson, Nevada, according to Gene Kilroy, who had managed Ali and more recently visited Norton as he recovered from a stroke.
While some younger people may know him best as the father of former Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ken Norton Jr., the elder Norton was one of the most prominent figures in all of sports during the 1970′s – in large part because of his consistently great bouts with Ali.
Their first showdown, in 1973, ended with Norton earning a split-decision victory – and breaking Ali’s jaw in the process. But Ali got his revenge six months later, winning their rematch in another split decision.
The two fighters faced off one more time in 1976 at New York’s Yankee Stadium, with Ali again taking the win in what Norton’s website calls “a highly disputed split decision.”

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