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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Fights that made the Garden
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published November 11, 2006
Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, fights at Madison Square Garden tonight. Her dad helped make the place famous, staging some of his biggest battles there. In his 11th pro fight, he knocked out Sonny Banks in four rounds in his Garden debut, despite getting knocked down. The New York press couldn't get enough of him, dubbed him the Louisville Lip and the legend was born. Times boxing writer John C. Cotey picks his five most significant and renowned fights in Garden history:
Emile Griffith vs. Benny Paret
March 24, 1962 Griffith wins TKO in 12
5 The third meeting between these welterweights turned deadly. At the weigh-in, it has been reported, Paret made derisive remarks about Griffith and questioned his sexuality. In the fight, Griffith was nearly knocked out before stopping Paret in the 12th round with dozens of vicious and unanswered punches. Paret slipped into a coma and died 10 days later, the first ring death seen on national television.
Joe Louis vs. Joe Walcott
Dec. 5, 1947 Louis wins SD in 15
4 Louis was downed in the first and fourth rounds but rallied for a split decision victory. He beat Walcott in the rematch and then retired, but like a good boxer later returned.
Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka, Mr. T vs. Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper, Cowboy Bob Orton
March 31, 1985 Hogan, Snuka, Mr. T win
3 The injured Orton tried to cheat by using his cast but took out partner Orndorff instead. That allowed Hogan to come in for the pin and the win. While not a boxing match, Wrestlemania I did feature Muhammad Ali as a special referee and Mr. T did beat Rocky Balboa.
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Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis
March 13, 1999 Holyfield defeats Lewis
3 It seemed all of Hollywood showed up for this one, perhaps boxing's most star-studded night ever. Maybe the judges were too busy star-gazing to watch what was going on in the ring because they scored the fight a draw when most agree Lewis was the winner. The rematch eight months later went to Lewis to give us a unified heavyweight division.
Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis
Oct. 26, 1951 Marciano KOs Louis in 8
2 Two of the greatest heavyweights ever collided, with the rising prospect Marciano dropping the legend Louis for an eight-count before knocking him through the ropes for the victory. The loss marked the last fight of Louis' storied career; he's considered by many the greatest heavyweight ever.
Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali
March 8, 1971 Frazier wins in 15
1 It's called the Fight of the Century, and the first in sports' greatest trilogy. Need we say more? This was only Ali's third fight back after a three-year exile for refusing to serve in the Army, and Frazier was the heavyweight champion. He dropped Ali in the 15th round on the way to a unanimous decision. The fight was so physical and brutal, both combatants were hospitalized afterward. Frank Sinatra covered the fight as a photographer for Life because he couldn't get a ticket (his picture graced the cover of the magazine).