Ken Norton, Thanks Now and Then

By Michael Schmidt on September 18, 2013
Ken Norton, Thanks Now and Then
It is not every day that you meet somebody with such determination, class and dignity.

“I won the first fight and the third,” Norton told me. “With Muhammad it was a mental thing. You had to beat him in and out of the ring…”

In honor of the late Ken Norton, we reprint a Boxing.com tribute originally published on May 23, 2012, celebrating a meeting between Mike Schmidt and the former heavyweight champ. Rest well Hall-of-Famer.

LAS VEGAS (Ringside the day before Rios vs. Abril)—I have just come out of one of the finest men’s clothing and accessory stores in the world, in my humble opinion, and that of various “Best Retailer” sites, Elton’s Men’s Store on the indoor walkway between Luxor and Mandalay Bay. I can turn left and visit “The Kansas City Comet” hall of fame running back Gayle Sayers, at a meet and greet collectible store, or I can turn right to the “MVP” sports memorabilia store, which has a huge stand up poster out the front, “Meet the Jawbreaker…” Ken Norton it will be, and Gayle later.

I do not enter the store immediately and I am not sure why. I think, in part, that I am not sure what I want to say to a legend in Norton and a fighter who I always admired. He was always in top shape, always gave his all, and presented himself in a classy way. I am also wondering how many people are going to come in as it is late morning and not much action is about. In short I watch across the way for about twenty minutes and take a respite from the Vegas all about me to collect my own personal thoughts. There are perhaps four or five people that come and go with one person getting a photo and autograph.       

Upon entering there are two videos showing the same fight, the first Ali fight. Howard Cossel’s voice blares from the screens, “His record is 30-1, with 24 knockouts, you haven’t heard much about Norton and this is supposed to be a routine exercise for Ali.” I pass the Champ and go towards the back and strike up an immediate fun conversation with “Paul” the manager. It turns out that he comes from the same small town in England as my wife so we have some fun talking about that. I tell him if he does not mind I will meander about for a bit of time before I say hello to Kenny. This is quite the place and of course there are all kinds of sports items but I focus on the boxing items; an original John L. Sullivan photo, $5,500; a Primo Carnera signed photo and glove, $3,895; a Rocky Marciano signed glove and photo, $7,500. For $80 I am going to have a photo taken with Ken Norton and have a signed autograph photo from the Ali fight. Before I go over to say hello I can’t help but wax philosophic and wonder how Ken Norton’s career, and his life as well, would have changed, and what path it would have taken if he had been given that decision in the third Ali fight, so controversial as it was by its scoring.     

Round two jumps out, “Good left by Norton and that excited the crowd…the right got in and Norton is coming after him.”

I go over and say hello and sit down beside the champ. Nobody else is in the store other than Paul, and Ken’s two friends sitting in with him for the day, and the rest of the week for that matter.                       

Round three begins and “Certainly Kenny Norton’s confidence is building up, this unknown, unheralded youngster, who really didn’t seem to belong in the same ring as Ali.” As it turns out I get the great opportunity to sit with the Champ for twenty minutes and just free flow chat. We talk of Jerry Quarry, Pedro Lovell and of course Ali. “I won the first fight and the third,” Norton tells me. “With Muhammad it was a mental thing. You had to beat him in and out of the ring.” We discuss his early career five-year sparring sessions with Joe Frazier and the high esteem Frazier had for Kenny and we discuss mutual life challenges that we have both had along the way. He gives me a very light four-puncher to the side of my bicep and say in a gravel-like voice, states, “God has a plan for all of us and bless you for sharing your time and thoughts with me. I still think about my aunt, she really really helped raise me and I missed seeing her when she passed.” Norton’s eyes slightly mist up in memory and he gives me another light shoulder tap.

Round ten begins and “the crowd is now beginning to exhort Kenny Norton…Norton so much stronger…Joe Frazier is exhorting Norton…” Norton sighs. He is totally relaxed and we talk on about other fights and memories. His thoughts are clean and concise and it is that gravel voice that perhaps would have one otherwise thinking he is in rough shape. In February of 1986 Norton had one of those life changing events that we earlier talked about and shared thoughts about. Norton was involved in a car accident: three-hour life and death operation, skull fragments removed from the brain, jaw broken in three places, right side of the face partially paralyzed, skull as if it was caved in, unable to walk, vocal cords shattered. Kenny tells his story in detail, and the fact that he can tell the story in itself is a tribute to Norton’s will and desire by the fact it came together post-accident in his book “Going the Distance,” and for anyone that wishes to give thought to lessons in life, and how to rise up, boxing aside, then “Going the Distance” is a must.

“Say Kenny are you going to the Rios fight Saturday night? I will be ringside and it would be fun” is my comment to the Champ and in response I get a big “ahhhhh, nahhhh. I try and not get in atmospheres where I get to excited and my doctor likes it that way.” I ask Kenny if it is, as well, a been-there-done-it as big as it gets kind of way. “Yes in part, you know, but I am still involved in boxing in different ways (advisor, sports management).” A young boy and his father enter the store and truth be told the father of course is more in awe than the young man who seems more naturally curious by the simple size of the man sitting beside me. I bid a goodbye and thank Champion Norton for the one-on-one time and sharing mutual personal thoughts. “Hey my pleasure and, again, God has a plan for us, so God bless you. Hey, we got this time together and it was good.” He gives me one last tap on the shoulder and I jokingly mention I better get a bigger Rolex because his is as big as a dinner plate. “Hey, all fun aside, none of this all around us (life) has anything to do with a Rolex or what not,” chimes in Norton.  As round 12 comes to an end, “Frankly, nobody gave Kenny Norton a chance…that right hurt Ali, Norton is all over him. Norton is the one with the fight left in him. He is all over Ali, he is punching him all over the ring…”                         

Later, on Rios fight day mid-afternoon, I pass MVP and Ken Norton is back in doing his appearance once again. I take a cab ride over to “Hooters” to grab a quick meal with “Dave.com millionaire” who is joining me ringside and mention my meeting with Norton. Dave comments, “He sounds like one helluva human being, too bad he is not coming out ringside tonight.” One hell of a human being indeed. Thanks for your thoughts, and the memory jogger, now and then Champion Ken Norton. 

We grab a cab drive back to Mandalay for the fights. I don’t know how we end up talking about music with the driver but we certainly know, mutually, some big music acts. The cab driver used to be an original sax player for “Misfits.”  Amongst various thoughts our driver says, “Yeah things, boy, they have really changed around Vegas since the good old days. But you know, it’s like you said Mike, you don’t mind me calling you that (no), but we were really really big back in the day so, hey we got that to say thanks, and I still do the odd gig just to kinda remember things—you know, wedding, birthday things, and then I get some guy like you, I pick up in the cab, who remembers the back in the day thing and that’s cool…” Ken Norton in fact makes it out for the fights. I go over to say hello and he gives me a wink. “Thanks” he says. Isn’t that something special. Isn’t Ken Norton something special. Thanks Ken Norton, now and then. Champion Norton will be at the June International Boxing Hall of Fame once again this year. Do say hello. It is not often you meet somebody “going the distance” with such determination, class and dignity.

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Muhammad Ali vs Ken Norton I - March 31, 1973 - Entire fight - Round 1 - 12 & Interviews



1976 09 28. Muhammad Ali - Ken Norton III



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  1. Clarence George 04:11am, 09/24/2013

    I see that Steiner Sports Memorabilia is auctioning off a “Sports Illustrated” issue autographed by Norton.  The minimum bid is $1.00, and the current bid is $2.00.  I find that odd, especially given that he’s so recently deceased.  True, he never really captured the public’s or fans’ imagination (after all, he wasn’t, say, John L. Sullivan), and there’s consequently not a huge demand for his autograph, but $2.00?  I paid four times that amount (and glad to) for an unsigned press photo of Lee Oma.  Well, a man’s worth isn’t necessarily measured by the value of his autograph.  If it were, Hitler would have been a saint!

  2. Ted the Bull 11:44am, 09/23/2013

    Steve Lott, who is President of the Las Vegas Boxing Hall of Fame, sent this to me via email.

    “I thought you might like this;

    “I visited Ken twice in the Veterans Hospital in Boulder City. The last time I visited Ken was with my buddy Tony Treim and Jim Carlin.  I brought my laptop with hundreds of photos of Ken fighting and training. He was lying in his bed - could not move - could not speak. I sat next to his bed and began showing him the photos with a brief description. His eyes lit up. Even the shots of him getting hammered by Cooney and Shavers brought a sparkle when I teased him about these bouts. I am so happy I went again.

    Steve”

    Very touching.

  3. Mike Schmidt 04:21am, 09/22/2013

    Very good Flute—very good memory—I am a huge Frazier fan but I must say if Perez had not heard whatever gong he heard in his head, mistakenly thinking the round was at an end, well, let’s leave it at this, Joe was in serious hurt at that particular round two moment—good stuff Flute, thanks.

  4. Jethro's Flute 01:54am, 09/22/2013

    Tony Perez was referee in Ali-Frazier 2, prematurely stopping round 2 while Frazier was in trouble and he was referee in Mercer-Morrison, a fight that, like Cooney-Norton, left the loser taking too many punches while helpless.

  5. bikermike 02:35pm, 09/21/2013

    Too true , that….when Ted refers to that Cooney ...being allowed to land several haymakers to the head of an unconcious and helpless Norton

    Apparently ...that ref liked this kinda ending   ...a pox on his grave

  6. Mike Schmidt 11:56am, 09/20/2013

    Kenny’s gravel voice was the result of the accident. I found him to be very lucid, clear and quick thinking, and very responsive in conversation.

  7. Jethro's Flute 11:25am, 09/20/2013

    How damaging are quick blowouts to a fighter’s long-term health.

    The fights with Foreman and Shavers were quick but the match with Cooney, short as it was, should have been stopped 4 or 5 punches earlier.

    The comparison with Mercer-Morrison is apt though it wasn’t quite Ruddock-Dokes.

    Norton wasn’t like Ali and Frazier though. Those men went downhill very quickly, having had too many fights. I’ve seen interviews with Ken Norton, after retiring but before the crash and he seemed perfectly fine.

  8. Mike Schmidt 10:56am, 09/20/2013

    True enough Eric- true enough. Kenny also suffered a heavy K.O in his first loss to Garcia—out—of course he avenged that one in a rematch by manhandling Garcia—Adios.

  9. Thresher 10:36am, 09/20/2013

    Well he had three slugfests in the All Marine Tournaments with one of my closest friends, Charlie Dwyer (former Ref and Ring 4 buddy). Each was savage, Kenny won each by decision. Charlie is 6’4” .

    So good point Eric. He did engage in a lot of brutal ring warfare. The Cooney thing is very disturbing to watch. Same referee as in Morrison-Mercer and Collins-Resto, also very disturbing to watch. Shavers was a quick execution and Foreman was a horrific blowout.

  10. Eric 10:27am, 09/20/2013

    Norton wasn’t involved “in long, drawn-out, brutal fights” but he was brutally hammered in three short fights with three of boxing’s all time hardest punchers ever. Foreman, Shavers, and Cooney are like a murderer’s row of all-time boxing’s hardest punchers and those shots Norton took from those three monsters surely took their toll at least a little bit. He got hit with a lot of punches in the Holmes, Ledoux, and Tex Cobb bouts too, granted none of these men were devastating punchers but they were all big men well over 200lbs and they were at least respectable punchers. Don’t forget Norton also was Joe Frazier’s sparring partner for a couple of years and it was said Frazier only knew one gear whether he was sparring or skipping rope, and that was all out. I’m sure Ken took a lot of those heavy bombs from murderous punching Frazier during their gym wars. Never have seen the fight but I heard giant Jack O’Hallaran and Norton had a memorable slugfest early on in Norton’s career.

  11. kid vegas 10:19am, 09/20/2013

    Norton’s health was fine after boxing. The accident messed him up and gave him the same outward symptoms of a punch drunk fighter. Terribly irony.

  12. Jethro's Flute 10:00am, 09/20/2013

    The reason I mentioned Joe Frazier was that Monte Cox asked the legitimate question ‘Is there anyone that Rocky Marciano beat that Joe Frazier wouldn’t have beaten?’ and he reckoned that Joe Frazier would have gone 49-0 against Marciano’s opposition while Marciano would probably have lost to Ali and Foreman.

    He was unlucky in that regard, Ken Norton, that he wasn’t as highly regarded as Frazier is and I think that if he would have beaten Muhammad Ali as soundly as Frazier did in 1971, if he had become champ while Ali was away.

    Holmes? Underrated while he was fighting, a little overrated since he retired but then the man whose shadow he was - Muhammad Ali - in was massively overrated and Holmes doesn’t help his case with excuses for his defeats and his goalpost shifting.

    He said recently that, with another 2 weeks training, he’d have beaten Mike Tyson in 1988.

    Try not to laugh too hard.

    One final note about Ken Norton is that I think he came out of boxing intact and his health issues were more to do with his car crash than having fought on far too long.

    He was almost never in long, drawn-out, brutal fights like Ali often was and Joe Frazier and Jerry Quarry were.

  13. Mike Schmidt 07:22am, 09/20/2013

    Side note—THE INTERNATIONAL BOXING HALL OF FAME HAS A VERY NICE PHOTO ALBUM POSTED OF KENNY’S VARIOUS VISITS TO THE HALL—SOME NICE SHOTS OF KENNY AND MIKE TYSON—ALSO SHOWS HOW BIG KENNY WAS IN COMPARISON TO MIKE—WHICH ADDS TO THE FACT OF WHAT A BEAST TYSON WAS—MIKE WAS, ALTHOUGH VERY “THICK” IN BODY FRAME, NOT A VERY BIG GUY IN TERMS OF THE BIG BOY HEAVYWEIGHTS. ADIOS.

  14. kid vegas 06:35pm, 09/19/2013

    Kenny was also a 2 or 3-time all Marine Champion. He was a very good amateur being a part of the San Diego bunch that included Charlie Powell, Archie Moore, and then Kenny and Mike Weaver. These guys were all tight with one another. Semper Fi for some of them.

  15. Mike Schmidt 05:15pm, 09/19/2013

    Kenny was a breath of fresh class air. In this day and age of pop culture over the top wannnabeees instants, of flushing money down toilets, of weigh in stare downs of nonsensical proportions, of disrespect, Kenny, like the Ray Mancinis, the Alexis Arguellos and the like, had all that was needed in the ring to walk the walk—outside the ring—pure class. In that context, Abner Mares, B. Shumenov, GGG, JMM—you got it right Champions and great role models for the young lions coming up. Well put Tex, well done.

  16. Tex Hassler 04:32pm, 09/19/2013

    Ken Norton was a man with real class. He will be greatly missed but not forgotten.  Ken probably should have got the decision in the third Ali fight but it was close. Ken Norton wil alway be respected by people who know boxing.

  17. Mike Schmidt 03:35pm, 09/19/2013

    Well said Eric—well said

  18. Eric 01:53pm, 09/19/2013

    Personally I think Norton was 3-0 against Ali, and I think he edged Holmes out in their classic bout in 1978. However, I think Norton actually got the benefit of the doubt in his narrow win over Jimmy Young, seems like Young had even worse luck than Ken when it came to the judges. Ken was a damn good heavyweight, at least as good as Holmes (who I feel is overrated), however, I wouldn’t have ranked Ken or Larry in the same league as Frazier, Foreman, or Ali. But I do think Ken had Ali’s number and IF he didn’t win all three fights in their trilogy, there is no doubt he surely should have been 2-1. Styles make fights and Norton would have given Ali trouble even in his prime. Always admired the upper body on Ken’s marvelous sculpted physique, muscular without looking totally musclebound, it was always hard to believe he never touched weights until after he retired from boxing. RIP Mr. Norton, and thanks for the memories, the Holmes fight was a classic.

  19. Your Name 01:37pm, 09/19/2013

    Al Bernstein ? Ugh!

  20. Mike Schmidt 12:47pm, 09/19/2013

    Fearless Editor it should perhaps be mentioned that Kenny’s actual birth date was Sept 18th, the day he passed, age 70. Side note—happy birthday George Chuvalo, Sept 12, Mike Schmidt Sept 15 and Al Bernstein Sept 15th. To the Norton family our thoughts—he was a special human being in many ways. Adios for now Fearless Editor.

  21. Clarence George 12:38pm, 09/19/2013

    Philistine!

  22. Your Name 12:36pm, 09/19/2013

    that looks like a cross between soul food and something you might find on the street of NYC.

    Thank you esse, but I’ll take Mofungo

  23. Clarence George 12:35pm, 09/19/2013

    Thanks, Ted. 

    Check out the tepertő photo—the second link works.

  24. Clarence George 12:31pm, 09/19/2013

    D’oh!  That didn’t go through.  Let’s try another one:

    http://dettcris.com/oscr/images/uj-004.jpg

  25. Clarence George 12:29pm, 09/19/2013

    Pork cracklings, Pete?  Mmm…pork cracklings.  How delightfully reminiscent of tepertő, fried Hungarian bacon.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing tastier than a woman rubbed down with…well, we’ll leave it at that for now.  In the meantime, a mouth-watering photo…of tepertő, not of the rubbed-down-in-same woman:

    http://www.sajo-hus.hu/sult/husos teperto.jpg

  26. Mike Schmidt 12:29pm, 09/19/2013

    Flute I think it is fair to say that not a whole lot of people had Kenny losing that third fight. For that matter not a whole lot of folks had Ali winning his fight if you could call it that- terrible scrap) against Jimmy Young. On the other note—Kenny had trouble with big strong punchers that could move him backwards—like a whole group of fighters that press, I don’t think Kenny fought well moving backwards at all—plus he had that crab style with the back foot in the water, as they say he would drag his back leg), which made it very hard to go backwards under fire- left with head movement and absorbing…....thanks for the post Flute. Interesting thoughts on the Frazier opponent analogy.

  27. Ted the Bull 12:26pm, 09/19/2013

    CG, I like your honesty.

  28. Jethro's Flute 11:24am, 09/19/2013

    p.s. Harry Carpenter, a friend of Ali’s, thought that Norton was the real champion after their final encounter in 1976.

    He thought Norton had been diddled.

  29. Jethro's Flute 11:19am, 09/19/2013

    Question:

    Is there anyone that Joe Frazier beat that Ken Norton wouldn’t beat and vice versa?

    I ask this question because both men won their first match with Ali and were both flattened in quick time by George Foreman.

    Norton was getting old when he faced Shavers and Cooney and I reckon that an old Joe Frazier would not have lasted with either man, if he had faced them.

    Does anyone else reckon that if Ken Norton had won the world title while Ali was stripped of his license, he would have won the fight of the century as well?

    I’ve always thought that Norton wasn’t really a great fighter but was a bit unlucky in some ways. He always did well against boxers but never against punchers.

    Thoughts please?

  30. Pete The Sneak 09:40am, 09/19/2013

    CG, No salicious meaning (though it’s tempting to consider now that you mention it) about Mofongo and yes, you are partially correct as to the Pork Dish aspect of Mofongo. But it’s more my boxing writer friend, much more…Please note:... Mofongo is a fried plantain-based dish from Puerto Rico. It is typically made with fried green plantains mashed together in a pilón (which is a wooden mortar and pestle).It is often filled with vegetables, chicken, crab, shrimp, or beef and is often served with fried meat and chicken broth soup. The ingredient(s) that makes Mofongo so good is that it’s cooked in our national seasoning called sofrito (made with culantro, ají dulce, cubanelle peppers, roasted red pepper, yellow onions, garlic, plum tomatoes and cilantro, are also added). Sofrito is traditionally cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, tocino (bacon), salted pork and cured ham. A mix of stuffed olives and capers called alcaparrado is usually added with spices such as bay leaf, cumin, sazón and adobo. garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon. Put all this together and mold and cook those smashed plantains in that Sofrito, and brother, you are in heaven. Especially if there is a cold Heineken to go with it…Peace.

  31. Clarence George 09:14am, 09/19/2013

    Mike S.:  You mentioned Ingo, which provides me with the opportunity to say how much I always liked him.  Not one of the greats, but underrated.

    Pete:  I agree that Norton would be perceived as a virtual demigod if he were fighting today.  Our current heavyweight division reads like bad fiction.

    By the way, isn’t mofongo a Puerto Rican pork dish?  But God (and Pete) knows what other, perhaps salacious, meaning it conveys.

  32. Pete The Sneak 08:35am, 09/19/2013

    LOL…Schmiddy, next time you chat with Ted (Toro) Sares, ask him about the Mofongo ‘experience.’...Peace.

  33. Mike Schmidt 08:32am, 09/19/2013

    Sneak you crack me up on that one. At the risk of Carlos Ortiz smacking me one I don’t have a clue what the fuck Mofongo is but I gotta use that line in future. Yes, Kenny was involved, one way or another/other, in exciting fights and yes he “brought it” and the resume speaks for itself.

  34. Pete The Sneak 08:28am, 09/19/2013

    CG, to each his own I guess and I certainly respect your opinion…However, Norton was never in a boring fight. The guy came to bring it every time, even when he got KTFO. If your looking at it from a ‘boxing technicians’ perspective, well Ken was not that. Nevertheless as a ‘fighter’ the guy was always ready to throw down and make an exciting fight. Find me a heavyweight today who brings that type of beast mode to the show. Reading Mike’s Resume below on Norton certainly isn’t too shabby as well. But hey, it’s all good. Not everyone agrees on who makes the best Mofongo in Puerto Rico either…Peace.

  35. Mike Schmidt 08:03am, 09/19/2013

    Win or lose, short, sweet or long, Clarence the following were great excitement one way or another- in the case of Kenny, his fights with….Quarry, Shavers, Cooney, Holmes of course, the first and second fight with Ali, Tex Cobb, Scotty Ledoux, Pedro Lovell, Foreman. In the case of Floyd, like Kenny, where does one begin—both Liston fights, short but exciting, all the Ingo fights, the Quarry fights, the second Ali fight, the Bonavena fight, the Ellis fight etc etc. Very entertaining fights/fighters

  36. Clarence George 07:46am, 09/19/2013

    Herr Schmidt:  If you say Norton was a class act, that’s good enough for me.  But I never cared for him as a boxer.  Floyd Patterson is similar in that regard—by all accounts, an absolutely terrific guy, but I never found his pugilism particularly impressive (though I much prefer him to Norton).

  37. Mike Schmidt 04:53am, 09/19/2013

    Young heavyweight, no dough, and single parent to a young son, star football play and star track and field man with numerous high school, state records—there was a whole lot to Kenny’s story….and yes MANDINGO.

  38. Joe 04:48am, 09/19/2013

    Ken Norton has a place in Heavyweight history that’s for sure.  As much as I hate to admit it I think he won the 76 Yankee Stadium fight with Ali and I’ll never forget the Holmes fight for the title or the devastating KO he received from Mr. Cooney at MSG.

    This cat even make some money in the box office and had a pretty good football player son too.

    RIP Mr. Norton

  39. Pete The Sneak 04:45am, 09/19/2013

    Schmiddy, I stand by my original post below from 5/23/12 about Mr. Norton and his 3rd fight with Ali…I still say one of the best, most action packed heavyweight fights I ever saw was the Norton/Holmes fight at MSG. These two guys were throwing leather like they were featherweights (when was the last time you saw that with the HW’s?)...RIP Ken. Thanks for the wonderful fights you gave this particular fan. No disrespect to James Kirkland (wherever he is), But Kenny Norton was the real “Mandingo Warrior.”...Peace.

  40. Kurt 04:32am, 09/19/2013

    I first saw Ken Norton fight when I was 15 years old in 1967 at the Pan Am Game Trials in St. Paul Minnesota.  He fought and beat then hotshot Forest Ward in the semi finals on Friday night and Tyrone Hollin in the Finals on Saturday night.  For some reason the powers that be kicked Norton off the Pan Am Team and sent Forest Ward in his place. Ward went on to win the Gold Medal. By the way Norton had that Herculean build way back then.

  41. Mike Schmidt 02:58am, 09/19/2013

    A LIFE OF POSITIVE- KEN NORTON. Stepping outside the realm of “fan” Clarence I can tell you my interaction with Champion Norton, stepping outside the realm of boxing, showed a man of great depth, compassion, and humility. Just a class act. As always Mike Casey a big thank you coming from you- always a plus. SIDE NOTE ON KEN- STORYTELLING- I was at the Syracuse airport a few years back with the lovely Suzanna (wife) to pick up Al Bernstein. While waiting Kenny came into the bag area- big cowboy hat, cane, and walker. He clearly was suffering from a bad leg, sore back etc etc. I asked how he was doing and he raised his eyebrows looked down at his sore knee, gave me a light rap on the bicep, smiled and said “Well you know….....fine.!” No complaints, no ill manner….that was the Ken Norton I met.

  42. Clarence George 02:16am, 09/19/2013

    Over at BoxRec, they had:  “R.I.P Ken Norton 1943-2012.”  A barely understandable mistake in January, but not in September.  Since corrected, fortunately.

    I was never a fan of Norton, and won’t pretend to be one now, but I’m genuinely sorry to hear of his death.  The sport is the poorer with the passing of any boxer.  I felt the same at the recent death of the largely unknown Bill Tate (who fought Laszlo Papp).

    Requiescat in pace, Champ.

  43. Mike Casey 01:11am, 09/19/2013

    Very nice to read this again, Michael. Ken was a thorough professional who fought the very best of his day. And yes, he DID beat Ali in that third fight!

  44. Mike Schmidt 12:27am, 09/19/2013

    Thanks BikerMike- I loved the second Ali fight. It was really two fights in one. The first five and one half rounds Ali was up on his toes really really moving and sticking and it looked like a run away win and then Kenny close the distance and it ended oh so close AND WHO COULD FORGET THAT LEGENDARY MAN’S MAN’S MAN;S FIFTEENTH ROUND WITH LARRY- ALL TIME CLASSIC ALL BALLS OUT BY BOTH GIUYS…. KENNY WILL BE MISSED- FOR ANYBODY THAT MET HIM FOR EVEN A FEW MINUTES HE WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT COULD IMPACT ON YOU IN A VERY POSITIVE WAY. For anybody that has not read his book I would strongly suggest same

  45. George Thomas Clark 09:50pm, 09/18/2013

    Only a great heavyweight could fight so well three times against Ali and once against Holmes.

  46. bikermike 07:27pm, 09/18/2013

    Ken Norton gave us a fantastic set of Boxing matches….
    Thank you Mr Norton….and our deepest thoughts to family and friends..

  47. bikermike 07:23pm, 09/18/2013

    Mike Schmidt is one of the authors we always look forward to….article OR comment…
    Keep ‘em coming Mike

  48. bkermike 07:15pm, 09/18/2013

    Kenny Norton beat Ali in his first and third match…no doubt about it….
    ...as for the second…it was too close to call…..

    ...if there is a fair count….Norton beat Ali ...two out of three….and maybe all three

    Still ...Ali was the guy putting the meat in the seats….so….

  49. bikermike 07:12pm, 09/18/2013

    Irish Frankie…your earlier post is absofknlutely RIGHT…

    To maintain a top ten contender status….you gotta face the young lions….they too wish to become top ten contenders….and some of them deserve the chance to prove it !!
    It’s bad enough that the bottle neck is at the K brothers…who will not fight one another..but will take any available contender ...

    The Champions are not the problem…it is these ‘top contenders’ who will do an imitation of drying concrete…instead of battle their way to the top spot…

  50. FrankinDallas 06:33pm, 09/18/2013

    I watched Ali-Norton I in the electronics section of a Montgomery Ward in Indiana somewhere. I was set up to take baby portraits in the appliance section but I could see the TV’s from my camera. Even though Indiana is a basketball crazed state, people were stopping to watch the fight especially as Norton was really taking it to Ali.

    The Holmes-Norton bout was also a classic.

    RIP champ.

  51. Darrell 11:16pm, 11/17/2012

    Nothing new of note to add there Eric…I rate him a better than “good” heavyweight. Foreman & Shavers did similar things to a lot of heavyweights. Cooney too, Ken Norton did meet him well on the downhill slide. Norton would’ve been a contender/fringe champion in any era.

  52. Eric 05:53pm, 11/17/2012

    Styles make fights and Ken Norton’s crab-like style was made to give Ali fits. Norton was always at his best when he didn’t fear the punching power of his opponent and Ali didn’t have the power in his punches to back Norton up. Many feel Norton at least won two out of the three fights he had with Ali, and some feel Norton even swept the trilogy. Most feel Norton not only won the first fight but also took the highly controversial third fight in the series, and the second fight was so evenly contested that it wouldn’t be far fetched to assume Norton took that one also. Before meeting Ali, Norton’s record was only filled with possibly three fighters of any note, the gigantic Jack O’Halloran, a 188lb Jose Luis Garcia who would knock out Norton in the eighth round, and fringe contender Henry Clark. Between his second and third fights with Ali, Norton would feast on some ex-White hopes past their primes in Boone Kirkman,  Jerry Quarry, and Ron Stander. He would avenge his defeat to Garcia with a 5th round knockout and beat up Pedro Lovell aka Spider Rico from the film Rocky.  Squeezed in between the aforementioned fights Norton would be demolished in two rounds by Big George Foreman. After the disappointing loss to Ali in their third and final fight, Norton once again put an end to a White hopes championship dream by knocking out Duane Bobick in the first round of a nationally televised fight. Norton would go on to actually win a highly contested fight against fellow contender Jimmy Young,  who like Norton had lost a controversial decision to Ali. This bout would later give Norton the championship that he could never outright win in the ring. Norton and Larry Holmes would put up a helluva fight for Norton’s paper title and once again Norton was on the losing end of a highly contested championship fight. Ironically, the White hope killer, Norton would end his career with a three fight series against White hopes with less than stellar results. First up Norton would barely escape a knockout in the last round to Scott Ledoux and be awarded a disputed draw in a fight many thought Ledoux had pulled out. Next up, Norton would struggle in another close fight against the limited Randall “Tex” Cobb for a narrow decision victory. Norton would face the giant Gerry Cooney in his final fight and once again as in the Foreman and Shavers fights, Norton was quickly dispatched by the fearsome punching Cooney.  Norton, surely made his name mostly on his three fight series with Ali and when you examine the rest of his career it would be fair to rank him as a good heavyweight but in no way a great heavyweight.

  53. Darrell 01:26am, 11/13/2012

    In the 3rd fight, I guess Ali won the decision, Norton won the fighting…by some distance as @mikecasey says.  You know when you’ve gotten a touch up…no doubts that Ali did after this fight.

    However Ali sure knew how to pull the wool over peoples eyes with his calculated clowning & his hands were fast still…it was enough…read cash cow.

    That was a wincing body shot by Ken Norton…ouch!

  54. Henry 07:16pm, 11/12/2012

    Ken Norton great fighter, trained by Archie Moore.  He beat Ali all three fights but was robbed in the 2nd and 3rd because the mob wanted Ali to be champ to keep box office gates up.

  55. Don from Prov 04:17pm, 05/24/2012

    Pretty simple—-

    If you could not back Norton up, you were going to face a very difficult night.

  56. The Thresher 02:23pm, 05/24/2012

    Ken’s condition today resulted from an accident, but if a young kid saw him, he would think he has dementia. Terribly ironic situation that Ken makes the best of.

    He was the first Mandingo. Kirkland is the second.

  57. The Thresher 04:52pm, 05/23/2012

    Well, between Norton, Ali, and Jimmy Young, there were a lot of hose jobs but it all seemed to even itself out.

  58. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 12:06pm, 05/23/2012

    Mike Schmidt- Here’s something else that ruining this great sport…another “opponent to be determined later” for Arreola…Haye and this guy hanging around at the front of the line waiting for their title shots like it’s their birthright. The K Bros are just as bad feeding into this crap! There’s plenty of good fights that could be made at heavyweight that would asses in the seats that don’t even include the K Bros but they won’t happen because it’s all about getting that shot without fighting someone who actually has a fighting chance of kicking your ass.

  59. Pete The Sneak 08:58am, 05/23/2012

    Schmiddy (or Schmeety as your Panamanian contingency referred to you) I too thought Kenny was jobbed in that 3rd Fight at Yankee stadium. Gone over it several times and still come to the same conclusion. Ken Norton is as classy as they come, no question. Despite Norton’s feelings on his fights with Ali, they have remained good friends. Norton said on the ‘Champions Forever’ classic tape that after his accident, one of the first people to walk through the door of the Hospital was Muhammed Ali, telling him he had to get better cause they had unfinished business to settle…LOL..He said he never fogot that. Great stuff Mike. Peace.

  60. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 07:49am, 05/23/2012

    Mike Schmidt-If Ali’s bouts with Norton and some others had been fairly judged he just may have retired a lot sooner. In my view this would have benefitted his physical well being and quality of life after boxing greatly and done very little to tarnish his legacy.

  61. mikecasey 03:45am, 05/23/2012

    Schmidty, I’ll maintain until my dying day that Ken won that third fight - and by some margin. By that time, referees and judges had become blinded by Ali’s hype, as well as blind to his slipping skills. I was 18 when the first fight in 1973 was televised here in the UK, and I will never forget it. It was tremendous. Kenny stood for none of Ali’s nonsense, bulled him around and really went for it. I feared he wouldn’t get the verdict, but thankfully he did on that occasion!

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