Today is the 50th anniversary of the Cassius Clay versus Sonny Liston heavyweight fight. Over the Christmas vacation, I watched the ESPN SportCentury documentary on Muhammad Ali. ESPN ranked Ail 3rd on its list of the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century! A SportCentury episode guide is here.
Shortly after Ali defeated Liston in 1964, he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name.
In 1967, Ali was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance from ages 25 to almost 29.
Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title in 1964 [Liston], 1974 [against Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle], and 1978 [rematch against Spinks].
I have a book and a video on the 1975 fight between Ali and Frazier. Billed the Thrilla in Manila, the fight is consistently ranked as one of the best in the sport's history and proved to be the culmination of the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier. I need to bang these out this year. Additionally, one of the first 30 for 30's looked at Ali's 1980 fight against Larry Holmes.