Name: Ken Norton
Birth Name: Kenneth Howard Norton
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Illinois, USA
Died: 2013-09-18 (Age:70)
Nationality: US American
Hometown: San Diego, California, USA
Height: 6′ 3″ / 191cm
Reach: 80″ / 203cm
Boxing Record: click
Manager: Bob Biron
Trainers: Eddie Futch (1968-1973), Bill Slayton (1973-1981)
Norton was born August 9, 1943 in Jacksonville, Illinois. He was an outstanding athlete at Jacksonville High School. He was a member of the state championship football team and was selected to the all-state team on defense as a senior in 1960. His track coach once entered him in eight events: He placed first in five events and second in three. As a result, the "Ken Norton Rule" was instituted in Illinois high school sports, which limits participation of an athlete to a maximum of three track and field events.
After graduating from high school, Norton went to Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) on a football scholarship and studied elementary education. His play in football was hampered by a shoulder injury during his first year. During his sophomore year, still hampered by the shoulder injury, Norton walked away from football and decided that college was not for him. He left the school and then joined the United States Marine Corps. Norton said "I believe the Marine way of life and thinking was the genesis of positive thinking for me." He also stated that academics should have been his No. 1 priority, not sports, and today he tells young people to get their education first.
Norton started boxing while he was in the Marines. He compiled an amateur record of 24-2 and won the All-Marine Heavyweight Championship three times. Norton won the U.S. trials for the 1967 Pan American Games, but another heavyweight was selected to represented the U.S. at the Games. Norton was told that his style, which included a cross-armed defense similar to Archie Moore, was not "international" enough. Norton never fought as an amateur again and turned professional in late 1967.
After sixteen straight wins, Norton suffered his first professional loss when he was knocked out in eight rounds by Jose Luis Garcia in 1970. After the Garcia fight, Norton started to see Dr. Michael Dean, a hypnotist. Dr. Dean gave Norton a book that changed his life, Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, which has been called the "Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature." Norton said, "I must have read that book 100 times while in training, and I became a stronger person for it."
After the loss to Garcia, Norton won thirteen consecutive fights and then fought Muhammad Ali for the NABF Heavyweight Title in 1973. Norton, a 5 to 1 underdog, fractured Ali's jaw and won by a twelve-round split decision. They fought again six months later, and Ali won by a twelve-round split decision.
In 1975, Norton stopped veteran contender Jerry Quarry in five rounds to regain the NABF Heavyweight Title. In his next fight, Norton avenged his 1970 loss to Jose Luis Garcia with a fifth-round knockout.
In 1976 Norton won three consecutive bouts on national television versus Pedro Lovell (TKO 5), Ron Stander (TKO 5), and Larry Middleton (TKO 10). In a newspaper article dated March 12, 1976, Norton credited Napoleon Hill's philosophy for his success. To quote from the article: "Norton says he's a believer in Napoleon Hill's philosophy, that a person can do anything he puts his mind to. 'So I train for my fights,' he says, 'mentally as well as physically. One thing I do is only watch films of the fights in which I've done well or in which my opponent has done poorly.'"
Norton fought Ali for the third and final time in 1976. Ali, who regained the World Heavyweight Championship from George Foreman two years earlier, retained the title with a controversial fifteen-round unanimous decision. The January 1998 issue of Boxing Monthly listed Ali-Norton III as the fifth most disputed title fight decision in boxing history.
In 1977, Norton knocked out previously unbeaten Duane Bobick in one round and defeated Jimmy Young by a fifteen-round split-decision in a WBC title-eliminator. With the win over Young, Norton became the mandatory challenger for the winner of the upcoming fight between Ali and Leon Spinks. Spinks defeated Ali for the World Heavyweight Championship, but instead of making his first defense against Norton, Spinks chose to have an immediate rematch with Ali. As a result, the WBC stripped Spinks of the title and awarded it to Norton by virtue of his victory over Young.
Norton made his first defense of the WBC title in 1978 against Larry Holmes and lost by a fifteen-round split decision. With the loss, Norton became the only World Heavyweight Champion never to win a world title fight. Holmes went on to be champion for seven years. Only Joe Louis had a longer reign as World Heavyweight Champion.
Holmes vs. Norton is considered one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all-time. The 1996 Holiday Issue of The Ring listed the fight 23rd on the list The 100 Greatest Title Fights of All-Time, and the fight is ranked as the tenth greatest heavyweight fight of all-time by Monte D. Cox, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization. The September 1998 issue of The Ring listed the final round as one of the "12 Greatest Finishes of All Time," and the March 2001 issue of The Ring listed the final round seventh on the list The 12 Most Exciting Rounds In Boxing History. In a 2009 interview on ESPN SportsNation, Holmes said that his bout with Norton was his toughest fight.
In 1979, Norton fought Earnie Shavers in a WBC title-eliminator and was knocked out in the first round. In his next fight, Norton fought a ten-round draw with Scott LeDoux. Norton had a big lead through seven rounds, but he faded late after taking a thumb in the eye and was knocked down twice in the final round (the unofficial AP scorecard was 5-3-2 Norton).
Norton retired after the LeDoux fight, but he returned in 1980 and defeated previously unbeaten Randall (Tex) Cobb by a ten-round split decision. The following year, Norton fought Gerry Cooney, who was ranked #1 by the WBA and WBC. Cooney brutally knocked Norton out in the first round, and Norton retired for good.
Awards & Recognition
- 1977 Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year
- 1989 inductee into the World Boxing Hall of Fame
- 1992 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
- 2004 inductee into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame
- 2008 inductee into the WBC Hall of Fame
- 2011 inductee into the California Sports Hall of Fame
- Norton, a proponent of motivational author Napoleon Hill's writings, received the "Napoleon Hill Foundation Award" for positive thinking in 1973.
- Norton was named "Father of the Year" by The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Los Angeles Times, and the West Coast Father's Day Committee.
- Norton appeared in numerous movies (such as Mandingo and Drum) and TV series (such as a 1983 episode of The A-Team and a 1986 episode of Knight Rider). The character of "Apollo Creed" in Rocky was initially going to be played by Norton. However, when he pulled out, Carl Weathers was selected.
- Norton worked as a television and radio sports commentator and was a member of the Sports Illustrated Speakers Bureau until a near-fatal car accident in 1986 left him with slow mobility and slurred speech.
- The 1998 Holiday Issue of The Ring ranked Norton as the 22nd Greatest Heavyweight of All-Time.
- His son, Ken Norton Jr., became a star linebacker in the National Football League, winning two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the San Francisco 49ers. He is now a linebackers coach with the Seattle Seahawks.
- "What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve."
- "Whatever you do in your life, always go the distance."
- "Age is a state of mind."
- "The most important thing to remember for you youngsters out there with an interest in sports, or boxing in particular, is to get your education."
- "Everyone in life should have a goal, and they should try and complete it. And if you don't reach it, keep trying. Never give up. By trying, the person wins."
- "Of all the titles that I've been privileged to have, the title of 'dad' has always been the best."
- "In boxing, and in all of life, nobody should ever stop learning!"
- "These words (from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich) were the final inspiration in my victory over Ali: Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can."
-  San Diego Hall of Champions' page about Ken Norton
-  California Sports Hall of Fame's page about Ken Norton
-  Marine Corps Community Services: Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame's page about Ken Norton
-  Ken Norton's page at the Cyber Boxing Zone
-  Ken Norton's page at Fanbase
-  World Boxing Hall of Fame
-  A Lesson in Manliness From The Ex-Marine: Ken Norton, The Art of Manliness
-  Ken Norton: The Man Who Shut Up Ali | The History Rat, by R.T. Johnson
-  Editorial: Norton was a positive role model, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, September 20, 2013
-  "Hypnotist Aided Norton - Confidence Key To Upset Of Ali" Associated Press, April 2, 1973
-  "Norton: Nobody to Somebody" United Press International, April 2, 1973
-  "The Man Who 'Whupped' Muhammad Ali", Ebony, June 1973
-  "Ken the conqueror" by Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1973
-  "Norton Has Philosophy Of Success" Associated Press, July 28, 1973
-  "Positive attitude key to Norton's boxing" Associated Press, March 27, 1975
- The Ring [page 43], September 1976
-  "Ken Norton Thinking of Retirement" United Press International, September 30, 1976
-  "Norton named top 1977 boxer" Associated Press, Feb. 28, 1977
-  "Norton-Young Bout May Be for the Title" The Milwaukee Journal, Nov. 5, 1977
-  "Ali-Spinks Winner Must Face Norton" Associated Press, December 2, 1977
-  "WBC Backs Off on Ali Demand" Associated Press, Dec. 2, 1977
-  "No. 1 Contender" N.Y. Times News Service, Mar. 9, 1978
-  "The New Champion" Associated Press, March 20, 1978
-  "Norton deserves shot at heavyweight title" by Peter Maas, March 22, 1978
-  "He's Punching Out" The Miami News, Sept. 25, 1979
-  "Ken Norton: Now He's Fighting For Children" by Will Grimsley, Associated Press, November 10, 1979
-  "Ken Norton Jr. helps father overcome crippling injuries" Associated Press, October 4, 1986
-  "Ken Norton Is Now Fighting Back: Former Champ Is Learning to Talk Again After 1986 Car Accident" Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1987
-  Autobiography: Going the Distance: The Ken Norton Story, Ken Norton & Marshall Terill (2000). Sports Publishing, Champaign, IL
-  "Rocky the Movie: The Kenny Norton Story or the Real Apollo Creed?" by Joseph de Beauchamp, Saddo Boxing, November 30, 2004
-  "The man who broke Ali's jaw is in Meridan" Myrecord-journal.com, November 15, 2008
-  Autobiography: Believe: Journey From Jacksonville, Ken Norton, Donald Hennessey, Jr. & John V. Amodeo (2009). 1st World Publishing, Fairfield, IA
-  "Ken Norton - Former Heavyweight Champion Of The World Seeks The Truth" ED MAGIK TV, August 12, 2010
-  "Ken Norton didn't suffer a heart attack" by Don Smith, Doghouse Boxing, October 12, 2012
-  Ken Norton | Dictionary.net
-  Ken Norton | IMDb
-  Ken Norton: Two-Time Father of the Year, The Art of Manliness, June 17, 2012
-  Best Late Bloomers in Sports, Eric Newman, Bleacher Report, April 25, 2013
-  Heavyweight Spotlight Shines on Ken Norton, Talkin Boxing With Billy C, April 2, 2013
-  The Southeast Missourian, March 12, 1976
-  Kenneth Howard Norton Sr.|Obituary by Jacksonville Journal-Courier, September 24, 2013
| WBC Heavyweight Champion
1978 Mar 29 – 1978 Jun 9