Feb. 25: Muhammad Ali Defeated Sonny Liston for Championship
Every day during the month of February, WPGC will feature an important moment in Black history. These daily vignettes are read by local children in the District and surrounding areas.
On Feb. 25, 1964, Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing championship. At this point in his career, Ali was still going by his prior name, Cassius Clay, and met Liston in the ring for one of the most anticipated fights of its time. During the first round, Ali surprised Liston with his speed and movement, causing him to have one of the worst rounds of his career but Liston came back during the second round.
By the sixth round, Liston was feeling defeated and weak while Ali’s energy and adrenaline kept him on his feet. Unfortunately, by the start of the seventh round, Liston refused to fight, spitting out his mouth guard and yelling “that’s it” to his team. It was the first time since 1919 that a heavyweight champion had quit sitting on his stool. As soon as Ali knew he was victorious, he immediately hounded the press for not supporting him during the fight.
This fight trademarked Ali’s most famous words, “I’m the greatest thing that ever lived,” a saying that has been rebroadcast for years.
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