This week — Sunday actually — 54 years ago, a young boxer from Louisville, Ky. made history in Miami Beach. Cassius Clay, a 7-1 underdog, beat then heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in a unanimous decision.
The fight was among the most anticipated, watched and controversial matches in boxing. Few expected the upset. At the time, Clay was known more for his ability to taunt Liston than his skills in the ring. It took six rounds for Clay to silence his critics. Liston refused to answer the bell in the seventh round.
Even fewer would guess that the new champion would go on to become an iconic American hero who would transcend the sport of boxing. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali, became a devout follower of the Nation of Islam and opposed the Vietnam War — all unthinkable behavior for a heavyweight boxing champion.
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