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Muhammad Ali found fame early on in his legendary boxing career, besting the fearsome Sonny Liston in their first match in 1964 when he was still named Cassius Clay. Although their second fight was mired in controversy over suspicions that Liston threw the fight, the FBI suspected that their first fight was also rigged.

Clay/Liston I took place 50 years ago, where Ali’s now famous “I’m the king of the world!” refrain happened after Liston didn’t answer the bell to return to fight inside the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Washington Times obtained FBI documents some 40 years old by way of the Freedom Of Information Act that suggests that the fight was fixed.

Ash Resnick was the focus of the FBI’s investigation into the Mob’s involvement in high stakes sporting events. Resnick’s ties with gangsters such as Meyer Lansky and being involved a fixing scandal as a basketball player at New York University made him an easy target.

The Washington Times has more:

A 1968 report from the FBI Philadelphia office said Resnick “was investigated in the alleged fixing of the first Clay-Liston fight in Miami. He allegedly is a friend of Meyer Lansky and Vincent Alo [“Jimmy Blue Eyes”] and Charles Tourine.”

A May 19, 1972, FBI report from the Los Angeles field office to Hoover stated that Resnick had “major mob ties” with New Jersey and Brooklyn figures and indicated his reach went beyond the ring. Resnick, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who had been a basketball player at New York University, was involved in the fixing scandal there in the early 1950s.

The Washington Times shared comments from author David Reminck, who said that he spoke with Liston’s former corner men who said the fighter could have continued and that the shoulder injury was “BS.”

Ali did not offer any comments on the allegations regarding the Clay/Liston I fight.


Photo: AP Photo/John Rooney