On This Day in History

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over Sonny Liston and taunts him to get up during their title fight. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

On February 25, 1964, 22-year-old Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) shocked the world by predicting that he would beat Sonny Liston. He boasted that he would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and knock out Liston in the eighth round, which he did. Liston, who had twice demolished former champ Floyd Patterson in one round, was an 8-to-1 favourite. After only seven rounds, a new heavyweight champion was proclaimed.

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