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Hall of Fame Friday: Ken Norton

02
Apr

THE RING magazine features a thumbnail biography of a ring great who has received the ultimate honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.

KEN NORTON
Birthdate: Aug. 9, 1943
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Ill.
Weight class: Heavyweight
Height: 6 feet, 3 inches (183cm)
Professional record: 42-7-1 (33 knockouts)
Title: Heavyweight (March 18, 1978-June 8, 1978)
Best performances: Muhammad Ali (W 12, L 12, L 15), Jerry Quarry (KO 5), Duane Bobick (KO 1), Jimmy Young (W 15), Larry Holmes (L 15), Ron Stander (KO 5), Tex Cobb (W 10), Pedro Lovell (KO 5).
Year of IBHOF induction: 1992
Background: One of the most-popular fighters of the 1970s, whose aggressive style, good looks and Adonis-like physique helped him become a crossover star during what is widely considered a heavyweight golden era ÔǪ A track and field standout in high school, he attended Northern Mississippi State University on a football scholarship before joining the Marine Corps in 1963, where he took up boxing ÔǪ Three-time All-Marine heavyweight champion before reentering civilian life in ’67 and turning pro that November ÔǪ Rocketed to instant fame when he broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw en route to winning a 12-round decision in March ’73 ÔǪ The upset led to second and third fights with Ali, as well as big-money bouts with virtually every major heavyweight of the time ÔǪ Suffered crushing second-round KO defeat to George Foreman in ’74 in first title bid ÔǪ Considered unlucky to lose controversial decision to Ali in ’76 rubber match, the final fight held at Yankee Stadium ÔǪ Wins over Duane Bobick and Jimmy Young kept him high in the ratings, and in ’78 the WBC stripped world champion Leon Spinks for giving Ali a rematch, and awarded the belt to Norton .. Lost WBC title to Larry Holmes on June 9, 1978, via split decision in one of the hardest-fought heavyweight title fights of all-time .. Never really the same fighter after the Holmes war, and was knocked out in two of his next five fights, retiring after suffering a vicious first-round KO at the hands of Gerry Cooney in May ’81 ÔǪ Launched an acting career in 1975, playing the title role in Mandingo, an international box-office hit that was followed by a sequel, Drum, in ’76 ÔǪ Continued to act after hanging up his gloves, appearing in TV shows such as The A-Team and Knight Rider, but suffered brain damage in an ’86 auto accident that curtailed his acting career ÔǪ Published autobiography, Going The Distance, in 2002 ÔǪ Elected to the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 ÔǪ His son, Ken Jr., was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

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