Produced August 9, 1943, in Jacksonville, Illinois, Ken Norton started boxing in the mid-1960s while serving as a U.S. Marine. Soon after leaving the military in 1967, Norton turned professional. In the 1970s, he fought three memorable fights against Muhammad Ali, winning the first. After years of health problems, Norton expired on September 19, 2013, in Henderson, Nevada. Hall of Fame fighter Kenneth Howard Norton was born on August 9, 1943, in Jacksonville, Illinois.
Soon after leaving the Marines in 1967, Ken Norton turned professional. For the initial several years of his career, he gathered numerous successes winning his first 16 fights but not lots of notoriety. He caught an enormous break in 1973 when Muhammad Ali, who had been searching to get ways to win back the heavyweight crown from Joe Frazier, chosen the relatively unknown Norton as his next challenger.
Stepping to the ring under comparative obscurity, Norton quickly made a national name for himself by breaking Ali’s jaw and winning a 12-round split decision in the San Diego Sports Arena. It will be the first of three memorable matches involving both heavyweight competitors.
Six months after, in September 1973 in the Forum in Inglewood, California, Ali got vengeance by taking a split decision. At Yankee Stadium in 1976, the pair fought again, with Ali winning a small unanimous decision in the front of 30,000 rabid boxing enthusiasts. For Norton, who was sure he had won the final fight, the loss was one he never quite got over. “I was never exactly the same fighter after that,” he afterwards said.
In 1978, Norton was named WBC heavyweight champ after new champ Leon Spinks refused to fight Norton, then the No. 1 competitor, and taken a more affluent purse to fight Ali. But Norton’s time with all the belt was brief—he lost his first title defense to Larry Holmes after that year.
Norton’s final fight came in 1981, against Gerry Cooney, and finished with Norton losing by technical knockout. Overall, Norton concluded with a record of 42-7-1 with 33 knockouts. In 1992, he was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, Ny. Health had also been an issue for Norton for a long time. In the 1980s, he endured a terrible car crash that left him in a short-term coma and changed his language. Lately, he had experienced several strokes. Norton expired in Henderson, Nevada, on September 19, 2013. He was 70 years old.