Our Northwest

Ali foe Ken Norton also beat Kirkman in Seattle

Friday, September 20, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

  Ken NortonThe man who gave Muhammad Ali fits in three boxing matches has died at age 70.

Ken Norton, father of Seahawks’ linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., died Sept. 18 in Arizona. Norton was a top heavyweight contender in the 1970s and is perhaps best known for breaking Ali’s jaw and winning a split decision in their San Diego fight in 1973.

Northwest boxing fans will recall that the pride of Renton, Boone “Boom Boom” Kirkman, fought Norton at the Seattle Center Coliseum in June 1974. Kirkman at one time was ranked the No. 7 heavyweight in the world by Ring Magazine.

In their Seattle fight, 11,039 watched as Kirkman won the first round, but then Norton took charge. At the end of the seventh round Norton landed a vicious blow to the head, and Kirkman was unable to answer the bell for the eighth.

“I was dead tired and couldn’t come out for the seventh round,” Kirkman told writer Pete Wood. “It wasn’t Norton’s punching power … I over-trained. I know that sounds like an excuse, but I was beating him. They said I broke his rib and he had to cancel Mandigo, the movie he was filming.”

Read a retrospective of Kirkman’s career in The Sweet Science.

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