LAS VEGAS, NEV.—Former heavyweight champion Ken Norton, who beat Muhammad Ali and later lost a controversial decision to him in Yankee Stadium, died Wednesday at a local care facility.
He was 70.
Ken Norton Jr., a coach with the Seattle Seahawks, confirmed the death to The Associated Press before handing the phone to his wife, too distraught to talk.
Norton, the only heavyweight champion never to win the title in the ring, had been in poor health for the last several years after suffering a series of strokes, a friend of the fighter said.
“He’s been fighting the battle for two years,” said Gene Kilroy, Ali’s former business manager. “I’m sure he’s in heaven now with all the great fighters. I’d like to hear that conversation.”