#TBT Sports Blog: Muhammad Ali’s “Phantom Punch”

Formerly Cassius Clay

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers Muhammad Ali’s “Phantom Punch.”

On this day 52 years ago the reigning heavyweight champ defended his belt by beating former champ Sonny Liston in a highly anticipated rematch at the Central Maine Convention Center in Lewiston, Maine.

The fight’s quick and surprise ending was captured in an iconic photo (portrayed in my blog’s comic) of a victorious Ali standing over a fallen Liston prone on the canvas.

However, the championship fight was rife with conspiratorial dialogue.

Even today, the boxing world debates Ali’s “Phantom Punch” and shocking result of the 23 year-old Ali knocking out the very powerful Liston at the 2:12 mark of the 1st Round.

Boxing fans regard the bout as one of the most controversial in the sport’s history.

Many speculated that the Ali-Liston rematch was fixed and that Liston threw the bout out of fear and possible retribution from the Mafia or even the Black Muslim extremists who were threatening him.

Referre Jersey Joe Walcott Calls Fight

Referee Jersey Joe Walcott called the fight after Ali’s hard right caught the fierce and strong Liston off-guard. However, many postured that Ali’s punch was not powerful enough to fell a man of Liston’s size. That’s where the name “Phantom Punch” came into play.

Ali’s title defense propelled him to an extraordinary boxing career that begun only a few years earlieron an international stage at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

The young fighter won the gold medal in boxing’s light heavyweight division by defeating Zbigniew Pietrzykowski from Poland.

The victory helped catapult Clay in a career where he would eventually become an international sports superstar as well as controversial cultural figure here in the United States.

In Rome, the 18 year-old teenager from Louisville, KY Clay unwittingly captured another title outside the ropes. Because of his magnetic personality, Clay became known as the Mayor of the Olympic Village.

Clay’s outgoing personality was equally on display in Italy as his incredible speed and agility in the ring.

All sports fans surmised that the loquacious and gifted boxer was destined for greatness. However, few knew the overall magnitude of the boxing success, polarizing publicity and iconic celebrity that would eventually envelop him.

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

The Greatest, The People’s Champ, Mr. Phantom Punch and The Louisville Lip are several nicknames that Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. acquired during his time as a professional boxer.

But, when people hear the name Ali, there is only one man who comes to mind. Appropriately, he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee into the #11 spot in Favorite Single Named Athletes.

There’s no surprise why Ali is a real knock out at #11 in Favorite Single Named Athletes – available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

Also, for boxing fans interested in authentic Muhammad Ali collectibles, click on the Sports Memorabilia logo below.

Shop for Hundreds of Muhammad Ali Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comNote that we earn a small commission on each purchase. So, thank you.

MIKE on sports – thee ultimate talking head on sports!


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