(b.1945 - 2013)
I sparred with Ken Norton in 1990 while we were participating in the kick off celebration for Toys for Tots in Los Angeles.
Ken Norton, American-born heavyweight boxer Born Kenneth Howard Norton on August 9, 1945 in Jacksonville, Illinois, he was good enough to fight Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes competitively.
Ken "The Black Hercules" Norton was a good heavweight contender for the title in the late 1970s. He was an ex marine and is well known for his win over Muhammad Ali although many felt Norton was hard done by in their two other bouts. In the first bout Norton broke Ali's jaw in the early rounds and went on to win a Unanimous Decision. The other two bouts, Norton lost on points. Norton also fought George Foreman and was stopped in two rounds. Then he was stopped by hard hitting Earnie Shavers in one round.
Norton nonetheless kept as a top contender, and after Ali got beaten by Leon Spinks for the world's title in 1978, Spinks refused to fight Norton and went for a more lucrative rematch with Ali instead. Before that had happened, Norton boxed Jimmy Young in what would later turn out to be a world championship bout, but at the time they fought, nobody knew how much was at stake. Norton won by a 15 round decision, and after Spinks' refusal to face the winner of Norton versus Young, the WBC declared their version of the world Heavyweight crown vacant, and one day later, decided to give the crown to Norton, thus Norton becoming the first boxer in history to become world's Heavyweight champion by defacto.
In his first defense, Norton and Holmes met in what many consider a classic fight, round 15 being considered by many experts and writers to be among the most violent rounds ever fought inside a ring. Norton lost the title by a split decision.
In 1981, Norton retired after getting knocked out in one round by Gerry Cooney.
Norton also did some acting, starring in the motion picture, "Mandingo".
Ken Norton retired at age 33 with an overall record of 42 wins,7 losses, and 1 draw.
Norton is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, and his son, Ken Norton Jr, played American football in the NFL. He is an excellent autograph signer who does several autograph trips each year, signing for free at many cities worldwide.