TODAY IN HISTORY

September 25, 2019

On this day, 25 September 1962 (Exactly 57 years ago today), Sonny Liston KO Floyd Patterson in first round for the WBA, the Ring and lineal heavyweight titles at the Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The fight was shown on closed circuit TV at 264 locations in the United States and Canada.

A crowd of 18,894 at Comiskey Park produced a gross gate of $665,420 and a net of $556,119.95.

Patterson received 55 percent of ancillary rights and 45 percent of the net gate. Liston received 12½ percent of the net in all revenue phases.

Leading up to the fight, Liston was an 8-5 betting favorite, though many picked Patterson to win. In an Associated Press poll, 64 of 102 reporters picked Patterson. Sports Illustrated predicted a Patterson victory in 15 rounds, stating: “Sonny has neither Floyd’s speed nor the versatility of his attack. He is a relatively elementary, one-track fighter.”

Former champions James J. Braddock, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Rocky Marciano and Ingemar Johansson all picked Patterson to win. Muhammad Ali (at the time a rising contender named Cassius Clay) predicted a knockout by Liston in the first five rounds.

The fight turned out to be a mismatch. Liston, with a 25-pound weight advantage, 214 lb (97 kg) to 189 lb (86 kg), knocked out Patterson at 2:06 of the first round, putting him down for the count with a powerful left hook to the jaw.

Sports Illustrated writer Gilbert Rogin wrote: “that final left hook crashed into Patterson’s cheek like a diesel rig going downhill, no brakes.” It was the third-fastest knockout in a world heavyweight title fight and the first time the defending champion had been knocked out in round one.

Rogin wrote that Patterson backers expected him to “go inside on Liston, fire away and then run like a thief in the night. He would not close in until the accumulated inside damage and Liston’s own frustration had sapped the challenger’s strength and will.” Patterson’s mistake was that he “did not punch enough and frequently tried to clinch with Liston….In these feckless clinches he only managed to tie up one of Liston’s arms. A grateful Liston found there was no need to give chase.

The victim sought out the executioner.” Rogin discounted speculation that Patterson had thrown the fight, writing: “The genesis of all this wide-eyed theorizing and downright baloney was the fact that many spectators failed to see the knockout blows

Upon winning the world heavyweight title, Liston had a speech prepared for the crowd that friends had assured him would meet him at the Philadelphia airport.

But upon arrival, Liston was met by only a handful of reporters and public relations staff. Writer Jack McKinney said, “I watched Sonny. His eyes swept the whole scene….You could feel the deflation, see the look of hurt in his eyes….He had been deliberately snubbed. Philadelphia wanted nothing to do with him.”

During an era when white journalists still described black sportsmen in stereotypes, Liston had long been a target of racially charged slurs; he was called a “gorilla” and “a jungle beast” in print

Liston’s run-ins with the police had continued in Philadelphia. He particularly resented a 1961 arrest by a black patrolman for loitering, claiming to have merely been signing autographs and chatting with fans outside a drug store.

One month later, Liston was accused of impersonating a police officer by using a flashlight to wave down a female motorist in Fairmount Park, although all charges were later dropped.

Subsequently, Liston spent some months in Denver where a Catholic priest who acted as his spiritual adviser attempted to help bring his drinking under control. After he won the title, Liston relocated to Denver permanently, saying, “I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia

REMATCH
Patterson and Liston had a rematch clause in their contract. Patterson wanted a chance to redeem himself, so they had a rematch on July 22, 1963, in Las Vegas. Patterson, a 4-1 betting underdog, was knocked down three times and counted out at 2:10 of the first round. The fight lasted four seconds longer than the first one. Liston’s victory was loudly booed. “The public is not with me. I know it”, Liston said afterward. “But they’ll have to swing along until somebody comes to beat me. ”

On this day 25 September 1991 (Exactly 28 years ago today) American Carl Lewis won gold in 100m at the 3rd IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo.

The world record, African record, and European record were broken by Carl Lewis, Frankie Fredericks, and Linford Christie respectively. The then world record holder Leroy Burrell also bettered his previous mark of 9.90 seconds while Ray Stewart set the Jamaican record for the event.

Rank Athlete Time
1. Carl Lewis (USA) 9.86 WR
2. Leroy Burrell (USA) 9.88 PB
3. Dennis Mitchell (USA) 9.91 PB
4. Linford Christie (GBR) 9.92 AR
5. Frankie Fredericks (NAM) 9.95 AR
6. Raymond Stewart (JAM) 9.96 NR
7. Robson Caetano da Silva (BRA)10.12
8. Bruny Surin (CAN) 10.14

On this day 25 September 1988 (Exactly 31 years ago today) American sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner won women’s 100m in Olympic record 10.54; beat team mate Evelyn Ashford by 0.29; 1st leg of her sprint double at Seoul Games.

On this day 25 September 1988 (Exactly 31 years ago today) Americans swept the medals in the long jump at the Seoul Olympics; Carl Lewis won his second gold of the Games with leap of 8.72m ahead of team mates Mike Powell and Larry Myricks.

On this day 25 September 1988 (Exactly 31 years ago today) German swimmer Kristin Otto swum Olympic record 25.49 to win the 50m freestyle gold at the Seoul Olympics; her 6th gold medal of the Games.

On this day 25 September 1988 (Exactly 31 years ago today) Super swimmer Matt Biondi won his 5th gold medal of the Seoul Olympics anchoring the victorious American 4 x 100m medley relay team.

On this day 25 September 1982 (Exactly 37 years ago today) Keke Rosberg became the first Fin to win the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship when he finished 5th in season ending Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas; he won by five points from Didier Pironi.

NB: Keke is the father of retired Formula One driver and 2016 Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg

On this day 25 September 2005 (Exactly 14 years ago today) Spanish Renault driver Fernando Alonso finished third in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Autódromo José Carlos Pace to clinch his first Formula 1 World Drivers Championship.

 

STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH


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