Former heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton (pictured above), who in 1973 broke the jaw of legendary boxing king Muhammad Ali during a bout, is reportedly hospitalized from complications of a stroke, reports Fight News.
Earlier stories reported that he suffered a heart attack–which is not accurate.
Norton, 69, reportedly got an infection while in a rehab facility as he was recovering from a stroke suffered last August. As a World Boxing Hall of Fame inductee and high-ranking member of the 70′s golden era of boxing, Norton finished his exemplary career with a record of 42-7-1 and held the title in 1978. He lost it that same year to another heavyweight boxing stud, Larry Holmes.
Norton’s jaw-crushing 1973 bout with Ali put him on the map. (It also evokes amazement from boxing critics and fans alike because Ali finished the fight despite suffering the broken jaw. Ali claims it was broken during the second round while Norton’s camp says the injury occurred much later)
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Norton won the 12-round fight via split decision to go on and win the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Heavyweight Title. It was Ali’s second career defeat at the time.
Norton’s retirement in 1981 followed a first round defeat to up-and-coming talent, Gerry Cooney. It was evident that Norton’s illustrious career was over when Cooney’s first punch made Norton’s knees buckle.
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The boxing great later pursued acting, appearing in about 20 films and various TV projects. In 1986, however, a near-fatal car crash left Norton’s speech slurred and slowed his mobility. Over the years, he has suffered several strokes, the most recent being last August. It debilitated him to the point where he could not speak due to his face being paralyzed on one side.
Now, according to Norton’s former boxing manager and friend Butch Gottlieb, the champ is recuperating and doctors expect him to pull through with “minimal problems.”
Ken, we wish you well!