Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton

Muhammad Ali fought three professional boxing matches against Ken Norton between 1973 and 1976. Ali won the series 2–1, though the final fight (judged a unanimous decision in Ali's favor) was highly controversial.[2]

External audio
audio icon National Press Club Luncheon Speakers, Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton, August 27, 1976, 1:02:57, Norton speaks at 8:58, Ali 11:10-39:00, Library of Congress[1]

First matchEdit

Still rebuilding a winning record after his first professional loss to Joe Frazier, Ali faced Norton on March 31, 1973, at the Sports Arena, San Diego, California. The fight was aired live on free TV in the United States via ABC. The fight against Norton started a years-long rivalry. Ali was outmaneuvered by Norton's unorthodox fighting style, which involved jabbing from below and crossing his hands for defence. As the final bell rang, Norton won on a split decision, igniting a controversy in the boxing world. Soon after the fight, Ali was treated in hospital for a broken jaw, an injury sustained in the second round of the fight.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Second matchEdit

On September 10, 1973, Ali and Norton met at the Forum, Inglewood, California, USA, for their highly anticipated rematch. Norton was in superb shape going into the second fight while Ali took to training at his training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, where he "sought to whip his once Adonis-like physique back into shape."[10]

As the fight began, both Ali and Norton appeared in shape and energetic. However, Ali demonstrated his physical stamina by skipping without pause and standing between rounds. Norton came out aggressively in the beginning of the fifth round, leading with a barrage of jabs and pushing Ali to a more defensive posture.

In the final round, Ali dominated with a series of combinations. Though the match was close, Ali ended up winning the split with 2 votes to 1. Although Ali had demonstrated the physical stamina for which he had become known, he admitted, "I'm tireder than usual, because of my age."[11]

Third matchEdit

Ali and Norton met for the third and last time on September 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA, completing their trilogy. This time, 34-year-old Ali entered the ring as Heavyweight Champion. Both fighters showed their strengths, but neither established themselves as the obvious winner. Most commentators gave the fight to Norton. Ultimately, Ali won by a unanimous decision, thereby retaining his title. Ali said during an interview with Mark Cronin in October of 1976: "Kenny’s style is too difficult for me. I can’t beat him, and I sure don’t want to fight him again. I honestly thought he beat me in Yankee Stadium, but the judges gave it to me, and I’m grateful to them." Norton was bitter, stating after the fight: "I won at least nine or ten rounds. I was robbed."[12]

Overall, Ali landed 199 of 709 punches while Norton landed 286 of 635 punches, per Bob Canobbio's CompuBox statistics. Norton both landed more punches and had far better accuracy (45% vs 28%). Norton also landed 192 power punches to Ali's 128.[13]


  1. ^ "National Press Club Luncheon Speakers, Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton, August 27, 1976". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Snowden, Jonathan. "One Punch: How Ken Norton Became a Boxing Legend in a Single Night". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  3. ^ "Muhammad Ali's ring record". ESPN. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Thrice As Nice: Ali-Norton". ESPN. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  5. ^ Felix Dennis and Don Atyeo (2003). Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years. miramax books. pp. 198–202, 250.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Stephen Brunt (2002). Facing Ali. The Lyons Press. pp. 167–83.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ "The mouth that nearly roared". Sports Illustrated. 23 April 1973. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  8. ^ "ALL SET TO SLAM IN THE RUBBER MATCH". Sports Illustrated. 27 September 1976. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Sept. 28, 1976: Ali vs Norton III". The Fight City. 2016-09-29. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  10. ^ "Sept. 10, 1973: Ali vs Norton II". The Fight City.
  11. ^ "A fight-by-fight look at Muhammad Ali's career milestones". AP News. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  12. ^ BoxRec: Norton vs Ali 3
  13. ^ "Ali-Norton III: Who Really Won?". Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2013.

External linksEdit