Ken Norton, the championship heavyweight boxer who notoriously broke Muhammad Ali’s jaw, died in Las Vegas on Wednesday. He was 70.

Norton had not been in good health in years following a series of strokes he suffered in the early 2000s. His son, Ken Norton Jr. – a former pro linebacker and current assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks – confirmed his father’s passing,reported The New York Times

In 1973, Norton, the picture of fitness at 6’2'' faced off against Ali for the heavyweight title for the North American Boxing Federation. Breaking his jaw in the fight, Norton was named the winner by a split-decision vote from the judges. At their next meeting six months later, Ali won by a split decision. In their last bout in 1976, Ali defeated him with a unanimous decision at Yankee Stadium.

Though he’d lost to Ali, Norton regained his dominance in the sport, knocking off the previously unbeaten Duane Bobick in the W.B.C. title elimination first-round bout the following year. He went on to win the title after Ali was beaten in the semi-final match by Leon Spinks. He retired in the late 1970s, but came back in 1980 for a match up against the No. 1 ranked Gerry Cooney, who knocked him out. His all-time record was 44-7-1.


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Towards the end of his boxing career, Norton launched a career in acting. His first film was 1975’s Mandingo where he played a slave that’s trained to fight by his master. He went on to star in 1980s films Drum and Delta Phi and make a number of TV appearances.

Norton is survived by his wife, Rose Conant; his sons Ken Jr., Keith and Kenny John; and his daughter, Kenisha.

– Chelsea Regan

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