Iconic publication Sports Illustrated has covered all the major sporting events around the globe for decades; but what are the publication’s picks for the top 100 greatest moments in sports history?
The website of the magazine has just revealed the picks for the top 100, and boxing features quite a few times; six in all. And “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, features in no less than four of the choices for momentous moments in the history of The Sweet Science.
The first boxing related entrance is at number-68 and it is Ali’s lighting of the Olympic torch at the Atlanta games in 1996. A sadly ailing Ali, unable to refrain from trembling, nevertheless kept his composure as he lit the torch. As seen by billions, Ali’s instantly recognisable face once again graced the covers of thousands of publications.
At number-41 is another heavyweight immortal: Joe Louis. The momentous, hugely significant return fight with Germany’s Max Schmeling – a fight that took place during one of the most turbulent periods in world history – was so much more than a mere prize fight. Hitler wanted Schmeling (never a real Nazi) to win so as to prove the dominance of the Aryan race. But Louis, who had been KO’d in the first fight with Max, had other ideas. Joe’s crushing 1st-round KO was so decisive and brutal, the German radio commentary was pulled seconds after the short fight was over with.
At number-31 is the biggest upset in boxing history: James “Buster” Douglas’ KO over a seemingly invincible Mike Tyson. The fight, which took place in Tokyo, Japan, stunned the entire planet. ‘Nuff said!
The greatness of Ali then takes over as far as the boxing picks in S.I’s list goes.
At number-21 is the then Cassius Clay’s stunning upset win over another seemingly invincible heavyweight monster, Sonny Liston. Ali, as he would soon become known as, really did “Shake up the world” with his February 1964 corner retirement win. To this day, people maintain the fight was fixed – so unfathomable was the bout’s result.
At number-14 is yet another huge upset, this one the KO win Ali managed to pull off in the African jungle against “Big” George Foreman. Not only was Ali a whopping great underdog in this fight, but at age 32 to Foreman’s 25, he was expected to get seriously hurt, maybe worse. Instead, Ali’s sheer brilliance saw him to victory.
At number-5, the highest placing for anything boxing, is Ali’s third battle with arch-enemy Joe Frazier. Arguably the most brutal heavyweight title fight ever, “The Thrilla in Manila” saw both men push themselves to the brink; the very brink. Ali, who later said he had felt as close to death as can be imagined, dug deep into his reserves and managed to win via TKO when “Smokin’ Joe” was bravely pulled out by trainer Eddie Futch. Never again will we see such pulsating, punishing heavyweight action.
The number-one spot on the list is given to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” upset win for the U.S over the Soviet Union at the Winter Olympics.