Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 August 2015

Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston fight was suspected of being fixed

By Andy Newport

Published 26/02/2014

Cassius Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in Miami 50 years ago was the launchpad for the boxing career of the man who came to be known as Muhammad Ali – but it has now emerged that the fight was the subject of a fixing investigation by the FBI.

Liston was the much-feared heavyweight champion going into the fight with a 22-year-old Clay on February 25, 1964 but it was the latter who declared himself 'King of the world' as Liston did not return for the eighth round.

But now the Washington Times has gained access to files which show the FBI did investigate whether the fight was fixed, under the Freedom of Information Act.

There is no suggestion that Ali was in any way involved.

Ash Resnick, a Las Vegas gambler, was the main suspect and it is a memo of an interview with fellow gambler Barnett Magids that is the most suggestive of foul play.

"At about noon on the day of the fight, (Magids) reached Resnick again by phone," the memo reads.

"At this time, Resnick said for him to not make any bets, but just go watch the fight on pay TV.

"Magids did go see the fight on TV and immediately realised that Resnick knew that Liston was going to lose," it states.

"Later people 'in the know' in Las Vegas told Magids that Resnick and Liston both reportedly made over one million dollars betting against Liston."

Because of Clay's unexpected victory there were instantly questions but Liston always maintained he went into the bout with an injured shoulder.

Liston was allowed his share of the purse and no evidence was found to suggest it was anything other than a clean fight.

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