Former Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton Dies at 70

Norton defeated Muhammad Ali in a 1973 match, breaking the legend's jaw

By Tim Dahlberg
|  Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013  |  Updated 5:15 PM PDT
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FILE - In this Sept. 10, 1973, file photo, Muhammad Ali, right, winces as Ken Norton hits him with a left to the head during their re-match at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Norton, a former heavyweight champion, has died, his son said, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. He was 70. (AP Photo/File)

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Former heavyweight champion Ken Norton, who beat Muhammad Ali and then lost a controversial decision to him in Yankee Stadium, has died.

His friend and corporate manager Patrick Tenore told NBC News that Norton passed away Wednesday at a rehabilitation facility in Bullhead City, Ariz., where he had been recovering since suffering a stroke last year. He was 70.

Tenore told NBC News that the former boxer had been doing well Tuesday but passed away early Wednesday afternoon of congenital heart failure.

Gene Kilroy, who was Ali's former business manager, told the Associated Press he's sure Norton is "in heaven now with all the great fighters," and Kilroy would like to hear that conversation.

Norton's body will be flown to Jacksonville, Ill., where he was from, Tenore said. A memorial service will be held in Orange County, Calif., where he lived for 20 years before moving to Nevada.

Norton broke Ali's jaw in their first fight, beating him by split decision in 1973 in a non-title fight in San Diego. They fought six months later, and Ali narrowly won a split decision.

They met for a third time on Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title.

Norton is survived by his wife Rose Conant, three sons and a daughter.

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