Muhammad Ali / Cassius Clay Coin Display Gift Set: First Title Fight v Sonny Liston 1964
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The display contains the complete set of eight 1964 coins, namely: halfcrown, florin, Scottish and English shilling, sixpence, threepence, penny and halfpenny.
All of the coins are in Fine (or better) condition and the item is housed in a display protection case.
This would make a great Christmas or Birthday present for a Boxing fan.
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Liston was the world Heavyweight champion, having dethroned Floyd Patterson by a knockout in the first round in 1962 to win the title; with an impressive knockout win record, Liston was a fighter that not many other fighters of his division at that era were willing to fight. E.g. Henry Cooper said that if Clay won, he was interested in a title fight, but even if Liston lost, he was not going to get in the ring with him. Often described as reclusive and timid, Liston did not like to smile or talk to the press too much.
Ali, then under the name of Cassius Clay, on the other hand, was a fast-talking 22 year old challenger who enjoyed the spotlight; he had won the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics; he had hand speed and a lot of confidence. Nevertheless, he had been dropped by journeyman Sonny Banks in a previous fight. Few observers and fans believed he could beat Liston, and he was made a seven to one betting underdog.
During training camp, Clay took to driving a school bus across to the site where Liston was training; he started to call Liston the big, ugly bear. Liston resented this very much. Clay told everyone within ear range that he would knock Liston out in eight rounds.
During the check-up the day before their first fight, Clay's heart beat came at 120 pulses per minute. Many thought of this as a sign; either Clay wasn't in proper shape, or he was nervous about fighting Liston. Later, after the weigh in, when it was again checked, Clay had a normal blood pressure.
Their first fight was held on February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach, Florida, where Clay was residing (his trainer, Angelo Dundee, operated a gym nearby). The fight began with Clay showing a lot of movement, making it difficult for Liston to score with many punches, although he did manage to land some blows. Clay showed a good fast jab and several quick combinations. This pattern continued in the second round. In the third round, however, Clay opened up his attack and hit Liston with several combinations which caused a mouse to form underneath Liston's right eye and a cut to open up under his left eye. During the fourth round Clay coasted, but when he went back to his corner after the round he started complaining to Angelo Dundee that there was something burning in his eyes and that he couldn't see. It has been theorized that it may have been a substance that was used to stop Liston's cuts from bleeding (possibly Monsel's Solution), but this has never been confirmed. At the beginning of the fifth round, Dundee pushed Clay off his stool and told him to stay away from Liston. Clay managed to survive the fifth round and by the sixth round Clay had resumed control of the fight. During the sixth, Clay landed several combinations, seemingly at will. Between the sixth and the seventh rounds Liston told his corner men that he couldn't continue. He complained of a shoulder injury. As the bell rang for the seventh round Liston remained on his stool, resigned to defeat. Sensing that he had made history, Clay sprang to the center of the ring, did a victory jig and then quickly ran to the ropes, over to the area where many of the sportswriters were. Many of them had doubted that he had any chance to beat the once feared Sonny Liston. Clay yelled at them, "I'm the greatest" and "I shook up the world!"
Because of the strange ending of the first bout, boxing authorities ordered a second bout, this time with Clay (now Ali) as the defending world champion and Liston as challenger. The bout would have been held in November, 1964, but Ali became ill and needed emergency surgery for a strangulated hernia. The fight was then postponed, and re-scheduled to be fought at Boston, Massachusetts. But the fight's promoters did not have a license to promote fights in Massachusetts, so the fight ended up being held at a small auditorium in Lewiston, Maine, the state's second largest city, on May 25, 1965. As a direct result of the fight's remote location (approx. 140 miles north of Boston), only 2,434 fans attended it live, setting an all-time record for the lowest attendance in a world championship boxing fight.
This proved to be one of the most controversial fights in history. Midway through the first round, Liston fell to the canvas, in what many have argued that was not an original knockdown. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott, a former world Heavyweight champion himself, seemed to be confused after he sent Ali to a neutral corner and the champion refused, instead posing over his fallen rival, yelling at him to get up, then with his fists up in the air, celebrating the fall. Walcott took twenty seconds to figure out what to do. Nat Fleischer, publisher of Ring Magazine, finally told Walcott that Liston had spent about twenty seconds on the canvas, and Walcott then stopped the fight, awarding Ali with a first-round knockout.
The Ali-Liston rematch became known as "the phantom punch fight". Most people at ringside did not see the punch with which Ali knocked Liston out. Many actually continue to claim that Liston had bet against himself because he owed money to the mafia; therefore, according to the ones who believe that theory, he went to the floor on purpose. Slow motion replays of the knockout moment, however, show Ali connecting with a quick right to Liston's head the second before Liston fell, all the more powerful because he caught Liston coming in. The replays also show that Liston was wobbly and listless as he rose to his feet - Ali appeared to connect on about four unanswered punches before Walcott belatedly declared the knockout.
Nonetheless, although Ali is recognized by many boxing experts and fans as one of the greatest boxers of all time, many still continue to question the results of his rematch with Liston. Author Mark Kram, in his book Ghosts of Manila, included an interview he held with Liston years after the fight in which Liston claimed to have taken a dive because of his fear of retaliation from the Nation of Islam, the radical Muslim sect that was coming to sponsor Ali's career. This is questionable in its credibility on multiple levels. First, Kram is an avowed detractor of Ali, and by his own account wrote the book in part to undermine the popular esteem in which Ali was held and which Kram viewed with contempt. Kram can be considered a receptive source of attention to anyone willing to give him testimony that supported Kram's own negative view of Ali. Secondly, Liston claimed not to have been hit at all, and Kram knew or should have known this to be false; whatever else may be said about the event, Ali did land a punch to Liston's head. In view of the uncertainty regarding the extent of Liston's claimed shoulder injury in Miami, it seems a reasonable possible interpretation that Liston was simply salving his ego, by fabricating a story to fit rumors of the punch that he had already heard.
Sonny Liston is a shadowy figure in some ways about whom conflicting stories and contradictory information have perpetually sprung up. Liston's alternately secretive and boastful ways contributed to this effect, as did his peripatetic career and lifestyle.
The year that was 1964...
• On 11 June in South Africa, Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government • The US government claims that, in the Gulf of Tonkin on 2 August, North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on US ships. It is now known that this incident probably never occurred. However, the Americans used it to escalate the war in Vietnam • On 15 October, Labour wins the British general election. Harold Wilson takes over from Sir Alec Douglas-Home as prime minister • Also on 15 October, Nikita Khrushchev is replaced as first secretary of the Soviet Communist party by Leonid Brezhnev and as premier by Alexei Kosygin • In the US elections on 3 November, incumbent Lyndon Johnson wins as president against right-wing Republican Barry Goldwater • In the US, the Warren Commission report concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald was alone responsible for the assassination of President John F Kennedy • British pop group The Beatles star in their first film, A Hard Day's Night, and appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on US television • American singer Bob Dylan causes controversy when he begins to sing accompanied by electric guitar, which offends folk music purists. During a transition period, large numbers walk out of his concerts at the beginning of the second 'electric' part •
• Football League Champions were Liverpool, leaving Manchester United in the runners up spot • West Ham United defeated Preston North End 3-2 in the FA Cup Final, the happy Hammers recording the win thanks to two goals in the final minutes after being 2-1 behind at half time • The Grand National winning horse was ‘Team Spirit’ • The Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse was 'Arkle' • The Epsom Derby winning horse was ‘Santa Claus’ • Golf's British Open was won by Peter Thomson • Cambridge won the Boat Race by six ½ lengths over Oxford • F1 Champion was John Surtees driving for Ferrari • Snooker’s World Championship was decided on a challenge match basis from 1964-68: John Pulman (England) defended his title by defeating Fred Davis (England) 19-16 and Rex Williams (England) 40-33 during 1964 • The Wimbledon tennis singles tournament saw victories for Roy Emerson of Australia (mens) and Maria Bueno of Brazil (ladies) • American Sport – The first Super Bowl did not take place until 1967 - NBA Championship: Boston Celtics 4-1 San Francisco Warriors – Major League Baseball World Series: St. Louis 4-3 New York Yankees (MVP Bob Gibson) •
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