Former WBC World Heavyweight Champion boxer Ken Norton passed away yesterday at the age of 70, after a long battle with poor health complicated by a series of recent strokes. Norton, known nationally, also had local ties to this area.

Ken Norton
Evening Standard, Getty Images

Norton was the second man to beat Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali's jaw and sending him to the hospital in their 1973 heavyweight fight. Norton finished his career with a record of 42-7-1 and 33 knockouts. He would later embark on an acting career, appearing in several movies, and was a commentator at fights.

Few people probably realize that Ken Norton had ties to this area. Norton was born on August 9, 1943 in Jacksonville, Illinois and attended Northeast Missouri State University, now known as Truman State University on a football scholarship. A shoulder injury forced an end to his football career and he left the Kirksville school to join the Marines and then on to become one of better boxers of our time.

His son Ken Norton, Jr. played pro football and is now a coach with the Seattle Seahawks.

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