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P PAGE 12 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 11, 2017 HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB by Richard Preiss Ali and Liston After 1965 Terrell, Liston, and Ali in 1967 When the up and coming heavyweight contender Cas- sius Clay was campaigning for shot at champion Sonny Liston, it seemed as ff he was always showing up in places where Sonny was. He once approached the Bear in a casino and started badger- ing him. Liston pulled out a gun and aimed it at Clay, who nearly had a heart attack. It turned out the gun was fake and Sonny got quite a kick out of putting a scare into the young, upstart. Clay would also go "Bear Hunting," where he would appear at Liston's training camps carrying a bear trap. He would be rant- ing and raving about how he was going to %vhup" the champion. Most people thought he was crazy. Liston was the most feared man on the planet, and nobody gave Clay, who had been nearly kayoed by Henry Cooper, any chance at all of beating him. As a matter of fact, many didn't give him much chance of getting out of the ring alive. Eventually, all of Clay's pub- licity antics paid off and he got his shot at the title. At the weigh-in for the fight in Miami Beach, Clay acted so crazy {maybe he wasn't acting} the doctor examining him consid- ered judging him unfit to fight. While Clay was behaving like a madman, Liston just stared at him with that Liston glare that had paralyzed so many of his opponents to the point where they were beaten before the first bell rang. Well, we all know what hap- pened on that February night in 1964. In one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Clay beat Liston when the champ retired on his stool after the 6th round. Many thought, and still do think, the fight was fixed. I don't believe that. In the previous three years, Lis- ton had only fought a total of six minutes. He won the title from Floyd Patterson with a one-round knockout and won a rematch in only one round also. His fight previous to that was a one-round knockout of Albert Westphal. Liston had been off for seven months before fighting Clay and did not take the young loudmouth seriously. The ring rust showed early in the fight. A rematch was scheduled for the following year in Bos- ton, Liston trained very hard for this bout and was serious about winning. Unfortunately, the match was canceled when All was diagnosed with a her- nia. The fight was rescheduled for Lewiston, Maine. This was one of the most con- troversial fights in heavyweight boxing history, with All winning in the first round after landing the "Phantom Punch." I won't go into the details Of this match as there so many theories about what happened that night. The only man who knew for sure, Liston, is now dead. In the time after that fight, I remember hearing jokes about it. One was "I was going to invite Liston and All to a party, but the last time they met they almost got into a fight." As far as I knew, the two never met again. There were no joint interviews ever held to discuss their fights, and they were never introduced in the ring together before a main event. It seems these two men, who had become such a part of boxing history and whose names would be linked together forever, were never again in each other's presence. At least that's what I believed until recently. While doing some Internet research on another subject, I happened upon the photo I have included with this arti- cle. It was taken on February 1, 1967, in Houston, Texas, at the pre-fight physical before the Ernie Terrell/Muhammad All bout. In it, we see a very happy Sonny Liston with both of his massive hands on Ali's arm. He seems to be having a great time. In fact, the two appear to be old friends. I had never seen this photo before and cannot find any others from that day. I don't even know if Liston attended the fight. It seems odd that Sonny would have been there. The only thing I can think of is Liston and Terrell were friends. Ernie had been a sparring partner for Liston years earlier and had also fought an exhibition with the champion. You can find foot- age of that bout on YouTube. Since they had a history together, maybe Liston showed up to support his former sta- blemate, though it appears he is friendlier to All. A few weeks back, I ran a number of photos of Liston smiling, but this one takes the cake. After all Liston and All had been through, you would never expect to see this. With their history of posturing, threats, controversy, and the stain left on Liston's reputa- tion from the two fights, who would ever think you would see Liston looking so happy in Ali's company. It would be great to find out if they spoke on that occasion and what the conversation was like. I have been trying to find film footage of the event but so far have had no luck. I have found out the two were in the same place on at least one other occasion. This was in 1970 when Liston fought Chuck Wepner in New Jersey. All, then in exile, showed up for the fight. I don't know why he was there, and I don't believe he spoke to Liston that night. Liston died not long after. With Muhammad now gone, it looks like we will never know if these two ever got together to discuss their fights. It really would be amazing if a tape emerged of the two rivals dis- cussing their history together. For now, enjoy the photo and try to imagine what they were saying to each other. 85 MUSEUMS & CULTURAL EVENTS 10 FRIDAYS. FREE AUGUST 11 Franklin Park Zoo * Fuller Craft Museum * Cape Cod Maritime Museum Worcester Historical Museum * Griffin Museum of Photography Fitchburg Art Museum * Jacob's Pillow Dance Smith College Museum of Art * Naumkeag, The Trustees AUGUST 18 The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston * Old Sturbridge Village Freedom TraiP Foundation Buttonwood Park Zoo Cape Cod Children's Museum * Concord Museum Berkshire Museum Emily Dickinson Museum For more information please, visit www.highlandstreet.org or call 617-969-8900 HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- To one Robert Joseph Cousy, who turned 89 years young on August 9th. During his active playing career with the Celtics, which spanned the years 1950- 1963, he came to be known as Mr. Basketball -- and with good reason. He led the NBA in assists for eight consecutive seasons; played a leading role on six NBA Championship teams; was named to All-Star Game rosters in every one of his 13 full sea- sons in the league; and twice was named the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. And don't forget, this was in an era during which All-Star Games were actually contested, not just the glorified scoring exhi- bitions that they have become today. AND ADDITIONAL BIRTH- DAY WISHES- To former Montreal goaltender Ken Dryden, who backstopped the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup Championships in an eight-year NHL career. He turned 70 on August 8th. And here's something. He was selected by the Bruins in the 1964 NHL Amateur Draft, but days later he was traded to Montreal (oh, what might have been). However, he wouldn't play for the Canadiens for sev- eral years. He decided to attend Cornell University, graduating in 1969. While there, all he did was lead his team to the 1967 NCAA Division 1 Championship as well as three ECAC tourna- ment titles. Called up to the Canadiens late in the 1971 regular season, he stole the show with a 1.65 goals against average and was named the Canadiens' starting goalie for the playoffs. He didn't disappoint. First up were the Bruins, the team that had drafted him and them traded him some seven years earlier. These were the powerful Bs of yore -- the Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito- led Bruins. The defending Stanley Cup champions. The team that would go on to win another Cup in 1972. These 1971 Bruins would eat this kid alive. Or so many thought. The Bruins won the first game 3-1 and were leading 5-1 midway through Game Two. So far, everything was going according to plan. Some Bruins fans went to bed, thinking all was well. Others, in Canada, threw in the towel and called it a night. Imagine their surprise the next morning when they learned that Dryden did not allow another goal while his team- mates clawed their way back to snatch a 7-5 victory from the heavily favored Bruins. The series went a full seven games with the Bs going down 4-2 in Game Seven. Dryden was the toast of Montreal as the Canadiens went on to eliminate the Minnesota North Stars, four games to two, and then cap- tured the Stanley Cup by edg- ing Chicago 3-2 in the deciding seventh game of Stanley Cup Final. For his efforts, Dryden was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of the playoffs). He remains the only NHL goaltender to win the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy before losing a regular season game. Dryden continued his spec- tacular career in goal for several additional seasons, leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Championship in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. It was truly a spectacular run for a player who was briefly a Bruin but a true champion with the Canadiens. STEVENS A PRESEASON SELECTION -- Although it's only August, NBA.com has selected Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as one of the prime candidates to be in the running for the Coach of the Year Award next spring. "It is only a matter of time before the grinder Stevens wins the recognition that comes from the award," notes the web site. "He and the Celtics have steadily climbed the ladder ever since he made the move to the NBA in 2013," the piece said of Stevens, who will be starting his fifth season at the helm of the Celtics this fall. "The Celtics are a team that has been molded, shaped and driven by Stevens," states the article. With the changes Bos- ton has made to bolster the roster he's got more to work with to close that gap with the Cleveland Cavaliers and maybe get to The Finals. Face it: the Celtics just wouldn't be as good without Stevens on the sidelines." Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors}, Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) and Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat) are also named as candidates for the award. JAGR STILL A FREE AGENT -- As the middle of August approaches, Jaromir Jagr, the NHL's Ageless One, is still a free agent. And there are a number of people wondering why that is the case. Yes, Jagr is 45 years old but, considering what he accom- plished last season while play- ing for the Florida Panthers, he definitely should be signed by some team before the training camps open next month. During the 2015-2016 cam- paign, Jagr" played in all 82 regular season games for the Panthers and amassed 46 points on 16 goals and 30 assists, totals that would have been deemed satisfactory for a much younger player. And he did all this while playing for a team that finished sixth in its division and did not gain a playoff berth. Imagine what he might have done if he had played for a quality team. Surely some franchise in the 30-team NHL can use a player like Jagr. He isn't window dress- ing. He's a solid contributor who is quite capable of providing leadership both on the ice and in the locker room. There's talk that if Jagr does not wind up with an NHL con- tract, he might play in the KHL -- the Kontinental Hockey League based in Russia. That would not be a fitting way to conclude a memorable career.