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« Pelosi Quotes Longfellow [by Mitch Sisskind] | Main | Squibs 365-372 [by Alan Ziegler] »

January 17, 2020


This is how rumors and conspiracy theories get started and spread. That the Miami fit was thrown by Liston is implausible, not least because in a prior round Liston's team put some caustic substance on his gloves that blinded Ali for a full round. Ali managed to evade him until his vision returned. Hardly the act of someone about to take a fall. At a certain point Ali became known as a dancer in the ring, so people forget that in his early career he consistently won by notable KOs and TKOs. He was a knockout artist, against bums and the best, until the draft problem sidelined him. The TKOs were often him pinning his opponents against the ropes, peppering them with repeated unanswered punches, while waving over the ref with his left hand to stop the fight because he didn't want to continue injuring the helpless.
See and many of the fights and knockouts can be viewed on youtube.

Ali beat Liston psychologically as well as physically in both fights. Think the great puncher and finisher, Roberto Duran, "no mas," when he knew was on the way to defeat.

As for the so-called phantom punch in Lewiston, Maine, that rumor only began because of the camera angle that caught the action. Ali's body blocks the punch, but run it in slow motion and watch Ali's body. He is delivering a solid punch. Liston attempted no comeback (he was already ancient). Could he have continued in either fight? He knew he was defeated; it hurt body and psyche to simply acknowledge he lost. But others can't.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I guess your mind's made up, but you may still enjoy reading Tosches's book. He's a very good writer. -- DL

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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