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Remembering One Of Boxing's Storied Bouts

Friday, October 11, 2013

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Robert Siegel and Melissa Block recall the fight between Cassius Clay and and Sonny Liston, the fight at the heart of the off-Broadway play Fetch Clay, Make Man.



One final note on that famous title fight between Liston and Ali. The legendary anchor punch that Mike mentioned is also known as the phantom punch. That's because many in the crowd didn't see it land and certainly didn't think that one quick punch could have dropped a man Liston's size. Even Ali seemed surprised. To this day, many wonder if the fight was fixed. After the fight, Ali headed over to broadcaster Steve Ellis and asked to see a replay.


MUHAMMAD ALI: Well, I would like to see the videotape if you have it.

STEVE ELLIS: All right. Do we have the videotape? Yes, we do.

SIEGEL: With Ellis, Ali narrated as they watched.


ALI: Ain't that beautiful? Dodging all those powerful punches.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Float like a butterfly.

ALI: You'll notice I'm floating like a butterfly...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sting like a bee.

ALI: And stinging like a bee. That's my old saying.

ELLIS: Well, that is your old saying.

SIEGEL: And then came the famous anchor punch.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's a right hand.

ELLIS: A right hand hurt him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right hand. Right hand to the mouth.

ALI: Watch this.

ELLIS: What was it?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Right hand, right hand.

ALI: Watch this.

ELLIS: Did you think he was getting up?

ALI: Oh, I knew he would fall early, but I wanted it to be about three or four minutes later.

ELLIS: Why are you standing over him, Muhammad?

ALI: I'm trying to tell the bum to get up and fight.

SIEGEL: Muhammad Ali on May 25, 1965, moments after shocking the country by knocking out Sonny "The Big Bear" Liston in the first round.



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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