Sunday, September 29, 2013

Philip Berg, Rabbi Who Updated Jewish Mysticism

Rabbi Philip Berg, Who Updated Jewish Mysticism, Dies at 86

Theo Wargo/WireImage
Rabbi Philip Berg of the Kabbalah Center International sounding a shofar for Rosh Hashana.
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Rabbi Philip Berg, whose Kabbalah Center International put a modern spin on an ancient Jewish mystical tradition, attracting celebrities like Madonna, Demi Moore and Britney Spears but also incurring criticism on spiritual and financial matters, died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 86, according to the center, although some news reports put his age at 84.

His death, from respiratory failure and pneumonia, was announced by the center.
A former insurance salesman, Rabbi Berg established the center in Queens with his second wife, Karen, in the early 1980s. The Los Angeles branch, now its headquarters, opened in the mid-1980s, and there are now branches in some 40 cities worldwide.
The rabbi suffered a stroke in 2004, and since then the organization has been led by Mrs. Berg and the couple’s sons, Yehuda and Michael.
In an e-mail message to The New York Times on Thursday, Madonna wrote of Rabbi Berg, “I learned more from him than any human I have ever met.”
She added: “This one concept that he taught me, and that kabbalah teaches, is that you have to take responsibility for your life. You can’t blame other people for what happens. You are in charge of your destiny.”
Kabbalah, which means tradition in Hebrew, arose in the 12th century among rabbinic sages in Spain and France. A body of commentary on sacred Hebrew writings, primarily the Torah but also early mystical texts, it aims to discern and illuminate hidden meanings within those works.
Rabbi Berg recast kabbalah in a late-20th-century light by combining it with a New Age focus on self-actualization. Classes offered at the center’s New York branch, for instance, include Power of Kabbalah 1, 2 and 3 and Creating Your Relationships.
Many mainstream Jewish leaders condemned Rabbi Berg as purveying a diluted version of kabbalah, which was historically considered so complex and powerful that only married men 40 and older who already possessed a deep knowledge of the Torah were allowed to study it.
But his admirers praise him as having made kabbalah far more widely accessible than it had ever been — to women, young people and even gentiles.
“It’s a mixed legacy,” Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Mass., said on Wednesday.
On the one hand, Rabbi Green said: “Both Orthodox and liberal Jews accused him of charlatanism and hucksterism. He sold bottles of supposedly blessed water called Kabbalah Water and charged hefty fees to people taking his classes and certainly became quite wealthy, unlike any prior teacher of kabbalah in history.”
On the other, he said, “There were people who derived great benefit from his teachings, who found their way back to Judaism through him.”
Besides Kabbalah Water, the center’s most emblematic product is a length of red string($26); worn around the wrist, the string is said to ward off the evil eye. In 2003, Ms. Spears, wearing the string and a white bustier, appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
A major component of the Kabbalah Center is its book-publishing arm, which has released many works by Rabbi Berg, including “The Wheels of a Soul: Reincarnation, Your Life Today — and Tomorrow” (1984) and “Kabbalah: The Star Connection — the Science of Judaic Astrology” (1992).
“In medieval kabbalah, there’s definitely reincarnation and astrology,” Jody Myers, a professor of religious studies at California State University, Northridge, and the author of “Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest,” a 2007 book about the center, explained Wednesday. “But Berg gave it central billing.”
The center’s assets, The Los Angeles Times wrote this week, “are now believed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Philip Berg was born Shraga Feivel Gruberger in Brooklyn on Aug. 20, 1927, according to the Kabbalah Center; some sources give the year as 1929. The son of an Orthodox Jewish family, he received rabbinic ordination in 1951 from what is now the Lakewood Yeshiva in Lakewood Township, N.J.
But before long, wanting to steer a less traditional course, he Americanized his name and became a salesman with the New York Life Insurance Company. He became entranced by kabbalah in the 1960s, on a visit to Israel.
In 1971, after divorcing his first wife, with whom he had eight children, he married Karen Mulnick. Together they undertook a deep study of kabbalah, living in Israel for much of the 1970s before returning to the United States, where they started a modest incarnation of the center in their home in Queens.
The Kabbalah Centers functioned fairly quietly until 1996, when Madonna began attending the Los Angeles branch. Over time, they have been patronized by Elizabeth Taylor, Roseanne Barr, Monica Lewinsky and other celebrities as well as many ordinary men and women.
In 2006, the center became a partner in a charitable project of Madonna’s that sought to build a school in Malawi, in southeast Africa. But as Newsweek reported in 2011, “only $850,000 of the $3.8 million spent on the academy was paid out in Malawi.”
“The lion’s share, almost $3 million, was spent by the Kabbalah Center’s office in L.A.,” the magazine said.
In 2010, the Internal Revenue Service began an investigation of the Kabbalah Center’s finances; its scope included the center’s role in the Madonna project, Raising Malawi. An I.R.S. spokesman said the agency could not discuss the status of the investigation.
Madonna has continued the Raising Malawi project but no longer involves the Kabbalah Center in it.
Information on Rabbi Berg’s survivors besides Karen Berg and their two sons could not be confirmed.
In founding the Kabbalah Center, Rabbi Berg appears to have put his finger on a primal longing that is present in even contemporary sophisticates.
“He tapped into the fact that modern educated people can still be superstitious and still have insecurities and still have needs that were once filled by people who wrote amulets and gave blessings,” Rabbi Green said Wednesday. “And he was willing to do that for people in the modern world.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Candace Pert, Explorer of the Brain

Candace Pert, 67, Explorer of the Brain, Dies

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Candace Pert, a neuroscientist who helped discover a fundamental element of brain chemistry as a graduate student and went on to become a major proponent of alternative medicine, died on Sept. 12 at her home in Potomac, Md. She was 67.
Associated Press
As a graduate student in the 1970s under  Solomon H. Snyder, right, Candace Pert helped discover a key to brain chemistry.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said her sister, Deane Beebe.
Dr. Pert was working at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the 1970s when a team she was on found one of the most sought-after objects in brain research: the receptor in the brain that opiates like morphine fit into, like a key in a lock, allowing the drug’s effects to work.
The discovery of the opioid receptor would, in 1978, earn the coveted Albert Lasker Award, often a precursor to theNobel Prize. The award went to Solomon H. Snyder, who headed the lab. Neither Dr. Pert nor any of the other lab assistants was cited.
Such omissions are common in the world of science; the graduate student in the lab rarely gets credit beyond being the first name on the papers describing the research. But Dr. Pert did something unusual: she protested, sending a letter to the head of the foundation that awards the prize, saying she had “played a key role in initiating the research and following it up” and was “angry and upset to be excluded.”
Her letter caused a sensation in the field. Some saw her exclusion as an example of the burdens and barriers women face in science careers.
In a 1979 article about Dr. Pert in the The Washington Post, Dr. Snyder, who had lauded Dr. Pert’s contributions in his Lasker acceptance speech, argued that “that’s the way the game is played,” adding that today’s graduate students will be tomorrow’s lab chiefs, and that “when they have students, it will be the same.”
The two later reconciled. In an e-mail interview on Wednesday, Dr. Snyder, now a professor in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, called Dr. Pert “one of the most creative, innovative graduate students I had ever mentored.”
Dr. Pert continued her career at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she continued to do pioneering work on receptors and the peptides that correspond to them, coming to conclusions that steered her toward alternative medicine.
She became a leading proponent of the unity of mind and body, and the ability of emotions to affect health. When Bill Moyers, in a 1993 PBS special, “Healing and the Mind,” asked her, “Are you saying that the mind talks to the body, so to speak, through these neuropeptides?” she answered, “Why are you making the mind outside of the body?” She was also featured prominently in the 2004 film “What the #$*! Do We Know!?” which attempted to bridge science and spirituality.
In her best-known book, “Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine,” published in 1997, Dr. Pert advocated a more holistic approach to understanding health.
“I’ve come to believe that virtually all illness, if not psychosomatic in foundation, has a definite psychosomatic component,” she wrote. The “molecules of emotion,” she argued, “run every system in our body,” creating a “bodymind’s intelligence” that is “wise enough to seek wellness” without a great deal of high-tech medical intervention.
The author Deepak Chopra, who wrote the foreword to “Molecules of Emotion,” called the book a “landmark in our understanding of the mind body connection.” Dr. Miles Herkenham, a former colleague at the National Institute of Mental Health, said that it may seem odd to an outside observer that a scientist of Dr. Pert’s training would go into what he called the “squishy world” of alternative medicine. But “the common theme that underlies all of her work is her knowledge as a pharmacologist of ligands — peptides — and how they work through receptors,” he said, adding, “She followed her own passions.”
Her work led Dr. Pert to team up with her husband, Dr. Michael Ruff, an immunologist, to investigate another protein, peptide T. They hoped that it would be effective in fightingH.I.V. by blocking the entry of the virus into cells. While the drug showed promise, it has not led to a successful treatment. Dr. Pert published more than 250 scientific papers on peptides.
In more recent years she and Dr. Ruff founded a company, Rapid Pharmaceuticals, that is developing peptide-based drugs to treat Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and other diseases by fighting the inflammation that underlies many chronic medical conditions.
Candace Beebe was born on June 26, 1946, in Manhattan. Her father, Robert, was a commercial artist, and her mother, Mildred, worked in the courts as a clerk typist. She graduated with a degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College and earned a doctorate in pharmacology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She also became interested in psychology but ultimately sought a more solid scientific basis for behavior.
“I wanted there to be a field that looked for the biochemical substrate of psychology,” she said. “That field didn’t really exist at the time. But I began to search for it, and it began to exist.”
Her first marriage, to Agu Pert, a fellow researcher, ended in divorce; they had three children, Brandon, Evan and Vanessa Pert Haneberg, all of whom survive her. Besides her sister, Ms. Beebe, and Dr. Ruff, she is survived by a grandson.
One of the friends scheduled to speak at Dr. Pert’s memorial service, planned for late October, is Solomon Snyder.

Jackie Lomax, British Rock Singer

Jackie Lomax Dies at 69; British Rock Singer Recorded With Members of Beatles

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Jackie Lomax, a British rock singer and guitarist who recorded with his Liverpool neighbors George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr but never achieved the stardom that many had predicted, died on Sunday while visiting the Wirral, a peninsula on the Irish Sea near Liverpool. He was 69 and lived in Ojai, Calif.
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Jackie Lomax in 1969.
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The cause was cancer, said Peter Purnell, the chief executive of Angel Air Records, which plans to release Mr. Lomax’s most recent album, “Against All Odds,” in January.
Mr. Lomax, a soulful singer with cheekbones like cliffs, was well regarded on the Liverpool rock ’n’ roll scene of the early 1960s. As a teenager he sang and played bass guitar for the Undertakers, a group that performed at the Cavern Club, in Liverpool, and in Hamburg, Germany, as did the Beatles.
Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, began managing Mr. Lomax in 1966, when he played with a band called the Lomax Alliance. In 1968, Harrison sponsored Mr. Lomax as a solo artist for Apple Records, the Beatles’ newly formed label, suggesting that he record as his debut single “Sour Milk Sea,” a song Harrison had written during a spiritual pilgrimage to India that year. The recording featured Harrison, Mr. McCartney, Mr. Starr and Eric Clapton.
“There I am in the studio and there are three Beatles watching me,” Mr. Lomax was quoted as saying on theApple Records Web site. “That choked up my throat a bit.”
But “Sour Milk Sea” was overshadowed by two hits released by Apple at the same time, “Those Were the Days,” by Mary Hopkin, and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Mr. Lomax’s debut album, “Is This What You Want?,” was produced by Harrison and was released in 1969, but received little attention.
John Richard Lomax was born on May 10, 1944, in the town of Wallasey on the Wirral. After leaving Apple he moved to Woodstock, N.Y., and made two solo albums for Warner Brothers, enlisting musicians like Rick Danko and Levon Helm of the Band. He made two more solo albums for Capitol after settling in California and worked in catering and at hotels to help support himself. In 2001 he released “The Ballad of Liverpool Slim” on Angel Air.
Mr. Lomax’s second wife, the former Annie Richardson, died last year. His survivors include his daughters, Vicki, Louise and Janine, all from his first marriage, to Dionne Armitage; five grandchildren; and a stepson, the photographer Terry Richardson.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ahmed Asmat Abdel-Meguid, Egyptian Diplomat

Ahmed Asmat Abdel-Meguid (Arabic: أحمد عصمت عبد المجيد‎) (b. March 1924) is an Egyptian diplomat. He served as the Foreign Minister of Egypt between 1984 and 1991, and as the Secretary-General of the Arab League from 1991 until 2001.

Born in Alexandria in March 1924, Abdel Meguid received a law degree from Alexandria University in 1944 before going on to obtain a doctorate of international law from the University of Paris in 1947. He joined the Egyptian foreign ministry in 1950 and worked in several departments, notably the British and French sections. He became ambassador to France in 1970, deputy foreign minister in 1970, and Egypt's high representative to the United Nations in 1972. He served in that position until 1983, and was then foreign minister from 1984 to 1991, when he was elected secretary-general of the Arab League.

Joseph Granville, Stock Market Prognosticator

Joseph E. Granville, Stock Market Predictor, Dies at 90

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When the stock market prognosticator Joseph E. Granville talked, his subscribers listened.
United Press International
Joe Granville implored his newsletter subscribers to "sell everything" just before the Dow Jones industrial average fell in 1981.
In early 1981, for instance, the Dow Jones industrial average dived 2.4 percent, on what was then the heaviest trading day in history, after Mr. Granville urged his newsletter followers to “sell everything and go short.” It rebounded in the following weeks before tumbling more than 20 percent over the next 15 months.
Mr. Granville, who died on Sept. 7 at 90, was perhaps the most famous of a generation of market seers who made their own fortunes in the less risky venue of the newsletter business, in his case The Granville Market Letter, which he began publishing in 1963.
“I’m paid to put you in at the bottom and take you out at the top,” he declared as he barnstormed the country with a showman’s flair, drumming up subscribers at investment seminars choreographed like Broadway shows.
He once slid to the stage on a 100-foot-long wire wearing his standard After Six tuxedo. He used puppets and clown outfits. He often played a blues song on the piano with lyrics that underscored his contention that Wall Street brokerages were just out to make money off their customers.
Mr. Granville wrote a daily market letter for E. F. Hutton & Company before striking out on his own. At its peak, in the early 1980s, his near-weekly newsletter had 13,000 subscribers. They paid $250 a year — and $500 more for urgent alerts by phone and Telex — as Mr. Granville sought to time the biggest gyrations in the markets.
Louis R. Rukeyser, who often had Mr. Granville on his PBS program, “Wall Street Week,” told People magazine in 1981 that Mr. Granville was “the most controversial man in American finance.”
But while Mr. Granville correctly called a bear market in the late 1970s and the implosion of technology stocks in 2000, he missed other major turns, like the start of an epic bull run in 1982.
And like many other market forecasters, his overall performance was “very poor” compared with that of basic stock index funds, said Mark Hulbert, editor of The Hulbert Financial Digest, which has tracked the performance of investment advisory newsletters since 1980.
Mr. Hulbert said that from 1980 through January 2005, Mr. Granville’s stock tips for investors lost 0.5 percent on an annualized basis, compared with an 11.9 percent average yearly gain for a general stock index. Mr. Granville’s tips for more aggressive traders lost an average 10 percent a year over that period, Mr. Hulbert said.
Mr. Granville, who continued to produce the newsletter until his death, did not provide enough trading details after January 2005 to track his performance as precisely. But he got enough of the broad turns in the market right, Mr. Hulbert said, that if investors had ignored his stock picks and bought or sold an index fund with each major call, they would have earned 8.5 percent a year since 1980.
“He deserves some credit for insight into the market,” Mr. Hulbert said, adding that Mr. Granville created technical indicators still used by many market analysts.
He died in a hospice in Kansas City, Mo., where he was being treated for pneumonia, his wife, Karen E. Granville, said.
Mr. Granville reveled in all the attention his bold calls received, she said. “He loved that,” Mrs. Granville said in an interview. “It was almost like he was on stage all the time.”
Joseph Ensign Granville was born on Aug. 20, 1923, in Yonkers. In “The Book of Granville: Reflections of a Stock Market Prophet,” published in 1984, Mr. Granville recalled that his father had lost $30,000 in the stock market crash of 1929 and “at least twice as much more that he borrowed from Grandma Buck and Auntie Blanche.”
He wrote that his family survived only because his relatives “were comfortable enough to write off their losses and aid us in recovering.”
Mr. Granville studied economics at Duke University and graduated in 1948. He also wrote books on bingo and investing in stamps. He was married three times.
Beside his wife, the former Karen Erickson, whom he married in 1981, he is survived by six children from his second marriage, to the former Paulina Delp — John, Blanchard, Leslie, Leona Weissman, Mary Beth and Johanna — as well as 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Richard Sarafian, "Vanishing Point" Director

Richard C. Sarafian, Director of ‘Vanishing Point,’ Dies at 83

Twentieth Century Fox
Barry Newman, center, is held at gunpoint in “Vanishing Point,” Mr. Sarafian’s influential 1971 car-chase cult classic.
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Richard C. Sarafian, a filmmaker whose 1971 car-chase thriller, “Vanishing Point,” earned him a loyal cult following, died on Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 83.
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Richard C. Sarafian
The cause was pneumonia, which he contracted while recovering from a fall, his son Deran said.
Mr. Sarafian worked primarily in television early in his career, directing episodes of shows like “Gunsmoke,” “I Spy,” “77 Sunset Strip” and “Batman.” He also directed one of the most fondly remembered episodes of “The Twilight Zone”: “Living Doll,” the chilling tale of a demonic talking doll named Talky Tina who terrifies a man played by Telly Savalas.
That episode, first shown in 1963, also terrified children for decades — including Mr. Sarafian’s own. Deran Sarafian said he thought the episode was “the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen” before learning that his father had directed it.
Mr. Sarafian’s feature films included “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” (1973), with Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles, and “Sunburn” (1979), with Farrah Fawcett and Charles Grodin. But he was best known for “Vanishing Point,” a dark story about a drug-fueled car chase through the Nevada desert brought on by a bet between a Vietnam veteran (Barry Newman) and his dealer, with a blind D.J. (Cleavon Little) offering the hero encouragement over the radio.
The film was an acknowledged influence on the generation of maverick moviemakers and actors who would come to dominate Hollywood in the 1970s. “Warren Beatty and Sean Penn and people like that absolutely adore him,” Deran Sarafian said.
Mr. Beatty, a particularly devoted fan, used Mr. Sarafian as an actor in his films “Bugsy” (1991) and “Bulworth” (1998). Mr. Sarafian was also admired by later directors like Quentin Tarantino, who gave him a “special thanks” credit at the end of his own car-chase film, “Death Proof.”
Mr. Sarafian was born in New York City on April 28, 1930. He was married twice to Helen Joan Altman, the sister of his friend and fellow director Robert Altman. She died in 2011. In addition to his son Deran, his survivors include three other sons and a daughter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ken Norton, Boxing Champion

Ken Norton, a Championship Fighter Who Broke Ali’s Jaw, Is Dead at 70

Associated Press
Ken Norton connects with a left to the head of Muhammad Ali during a bout in Inglewood, Calif., in 1973.

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Ken Norton, who had three memorable fights with Muhammad Ali, breaking Ali’s jaw in winning their first bout, then losing twice, and who went on to become the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, died Wednesday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nev. He was 70.

Steve Marcus/Reuters
Ken Norton in Las Vegas in 2012 for the 70th birthday celebration for Muhammad Ali.
Associated Press
Muhammad Ali, right, knocking Ken Norton back in their third and final meeting, in Yankee Stadium in 1976. Ali won by a decision.
His death was confirmed by his son Ken Jr., an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks of the N.F.L. and a pro linebacker for 13 seasons, The Associated Press said. Norton had been in poor health for several years after sustaining a series of strokes, The A.P. reported.
Norton defeated Ali on a 12-round split decision in 1973 to capture the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. Norton was an exceptionally muscular 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, but he was a decided underdog in the first Ali fight.
“Ali thought it would be an easy fight,” Norton’s former manager, Gene Kilroy, was quoted by The A.P. as saying. “But Norton was unorthodox. Instead of jabbing from above like most fighters, he would put his hand down and jab up at Ali.”
Kilroy said that after the fight, Norton visited Ali at the hospital where he was getting his broken jaw wired, and Ali told him he never wanted to fight him again.
But the second bout in their trilogy came six months later, when Ali rallied to win a narrow split decision. In their final bout, Ali retained his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association titles when he defeated Norton on a decision that was unanimous but booed by many in the crowd of more than 30,000 at Yankee Stadium in September 1976.
“I was never the same fighter after that,” Norton told Red Smith of The New York Times in October 1979. “I never trained so hard again, never could put the same feeling into it. I was at my best that night, in the best shape I ever was.”
In 1977, Norton knocked out the previously unbeaten Duane Bobick in the first round and defeated Jimmy Young in a 15-round split decision in a W.B.C. title elimination series. He became the mandatory challenger for the winner of the coming fight between Ali and Leon Spinks. Spinks defeated Ali for the championship but shunned Norton for his first defense in favor of a rematch with Ali. The W.B.C. stripped Spinks of the title and awarded it to Norton.
Norton made his first defense of the W.B.C. title in 1978 against Larry Holmes and lost by a 15-round split decision in one of boxing’s most exciting fights.
Kenneth Howard Norton was born Aug. 9, 1943, in Jacksonville, Ill., and starred in high school football, basketball and track. He attended Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) on a football scholarship but was hampered by a shoulder injury in his first two seasons and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Norton started boxing while he was in the Marines, compiling an amateur record of 24-2 and winning the All-Marine Heavyweight Championship three times.
He turned pro in 1967 and won 16 straight bouts before being knocked out by Jose Luis Garcia. Soon afterward, he read Napoleon Hill’s motivational book “Think and Grow Rich.”
“I must have read that book 100 times while in training, and I became a stronger person for it,” the Web site quoted him as saying. He said he believed in the book’s philosophy that a person could do the unexpected if he put his mind to it.
“So I train for my fights mentally as well as physically,” he said. “One thing I do is only watch films of the fights in which I’ve done well or in which my opponent has done poorly.”
Norton fought the undefeated George Foreman for the W.B.C. and W.B.A. heavyweight championships in 1974 and was knocked out in the second round. He stopped Jerry Quarry in five rounds in 1975 to regain the N.A.B.F. crown. In his next fight, Norton avenged his 1970 loss to Garcia with a fifth-round knockout.
After retiring for a time, Norton returned in 1980 and defeated the previously unbeaten Tex Cobb on a decision. The next year, Gerry Cooney, ranked No. 1 by the W.B.A. and the W.B.C., knocked Norton out in the first round in what became his final fight. Norton won 42 fights (33 by knockout), lost seven times and fought one draw.
Norton acted in several movies, most notably “Mandingo” (1975), in which he played the slave Mede, who is trained to fight by his owner.
Ken Norton Jr. played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys from 1988 to 1993 and for the San Francisco 49ers from 1994 to 2000. He was a three-time Pro Bowl player with the 49ers.
In addition to Ken Jr., Norton’s survivors include his wife, Rose Conant; two other sons, Keith and Kenny John; and a daughter, Kenisha.       
Kenneth Howard Norton Sr. (August 9, 1943 – September 18, 2013) was an American heavyweight boxer and WBC world Heavyweight Champion.[3] He was best known for his 12-round victory over Muhammad Ali, when he famously broke Ali's jaw, on March 31, 1973, becoming only the second man to defeat a peak Ali as a professional (after Joe Frazier, who won a 15-round unanimous decision against Ali on March 8, 1971).
He and Ali would fight twice more, with Ali officially winning narrowly both return bouts, although many felt Norton truly deserved their third fight. Norton was awarded the WBC title (by virtue of his win over Jimmy Young in a 1977 title elimination bout) when Leon Spinks declined a mandated title defense against Norton, the number one contender. However, Norton lost it in his first defense on a split decision by 1 point to Larry Holmes in a great contest (Holmes-Norton is ranked as the 10th-greatest heavyweight fight of all time by Monte D. Cox, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization).

Early years[edit source | edit]

Norton was an outstanding athlete at Jacksonville High School. He was a member of the state championship football team and was selected to the all-state team on defense as a senior in 1960. His track coach entered him in eight events, and Norton placed first in seven of them. As a result, the "Ken Norton Rule", which limits participation of an athlete to a maximum of four track and field events, was instituted in Illinois high school sports. After graduating from high school, Norton went to Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) on a football scholarship and studied elementary education.[4]

Boxing career[edit source | edit]

Norton started boxing when he was in the United States Marine Corps from 1963 to 1967, compiling a 24-2 record en route to three All-Marine Heavyweight titles.[5][6] Following the National AAU finals in 1967, he turned professional.
Norton built up a steady string of wins, some against journeyman fighters and others over fringe contenders like the giant Jack O'Halloran. He was learning and improving. But he suffered a surprise defeat, ironically just after Ring magazine had profiled him as a prospect, at the hands of Jose Luis Garcia in 1970. It was Garcia's career peak.
Norton was given the motivational book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill,[7][8] which, as he states in his autobiography, Going the Distance, changed his life (Norton, et al., 2000, p. 46). Upon reading it, he went on a 14-fight winning streak, including a shocking victory over Muhammad Ali in 1973 to win the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight champion title.[9][10] To quote Norton from his autobiography noted above "These words (from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich) were the final inspiration in my victory over Ali: Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can."[11]
An article which appeared in The Southeast Missourian[12] discussed that Norton credited Napoleon Hill's philosophy for his success. To quote from the article "Norton says he's a believer in Napoleon Hill's philosophy, that a person can do anything he puts his mind to. 'So I train for my fights,' he says, 'mentally as well as physically. One thing I do is only watch films of the fights in which I've done well or in which my opponent has done poorly.'"
Ken Norton once said, "In boxing, and in all of life, nobody should ever stop learning!"[13]

Versus Ali, first & second fight[edit source | edit]

'Name' opponents were elusive in Norton's early career. His first big break came with a clear win over respected contender Henry Clark. This helped get him his world recognition break when Ali agreed to a match. Joe Frazier, who'd sparred with Norton, presciently said of Ali, "He'll have plenty of trouble!" Though both were top boxers in the mid 1970s, Norton and Frazier never fought each other, in part because they shared the same trainer, Eddie Futch.
On March 31, 1973, Muhammad Ali entered the ring at the San Diego Sports Arena[14] wearing a robe given to him by Elvis Presley as a 5-1 favorite versus Ken Norton in a bout televised by ABC's Wide World of Sports.[15] Norton won a 12-round split decision over Ali in his adopted hometown of San Diego to win the NABF heavyweight title.[10] In this bout, Norton broke Ali's jaw (he maintains in round eleven, though Angelo Dundee said it was earlier), leading to only the second defeat for "The Greatest" in his career. (Ali's only previous loss was to Joe Frazier, and Ali would later go on to defeat George Foreman to regain the heavyweight title in 1974.)
Almost six months later, at The Forum in Inglewood, California, on September 10, 1973, Ali avenged the Norton loss, but only just, when he got the return by a split decision.[16] Norton weighed in at 205 lbs (5 pounds lighter than his first match with Ali) and boxing scribes discussed that his preparation was too intense and that perhaps he had overtrained. There were some furious exchanges in this hard-fought battle. From Ali's point of view, a loss here would have seriously dented his claim of ever being "The Greatest".

Championship challenge against Foreman[edit source | edit]

In 1974, Norton fought George Foreman for the World Heavyweight Championship but was stopped in two rounds.
In 1975, Norton regained the NABF heavyweight title when he impressively defeated Jerry Quarry by TKO in the fifth round. Norton then avenged his above-mentioned 1970 loss to Jose Luis Garcia by decisively knocking out Garcia in round five.

Third Ali match[edit source | edit]

On September 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium in New York City, Norton would again fight Ali,[16] who was now the world heavyweight champion since regaining the title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in 1974. Many observers have felt this was the beginning of Ali's decline as a boxer. It was a tough bruising battle for Ali. In one of the most disputed fights in history, the fight was even on the judges' scorecards going into the final round, which Ali won on both the referee's and judges' scorecards to retain the world heavyweight championship. The judges scored the bout 8-7 for Ali, and the referee scored it 8-6 for Ali. At the end of the last round, the commentator announced he would be "very surprised" if Norton has not won the fight.[17]
At the time of the third Ali-Norton bout, the last time a heavyweight champion had lost the title by decision was Max Baer to Jim Braddock 41 years earlier, and Ali-Norton III did not set a new marker. The January 1998 issue of Boxing Monthly listed Ali-Norton as the fifth most disputed title fight decision in boxing history. The unofficial UPI scorecard was 8-7 for Norton, and the unofficial AP scorecard was 9-6 for Ali.
But Ali had received a pounding. His tactics were to try to push Norton back, but they had failed. He'd refused to 'dance' until the 11th when in sheer desperation, although the crowd massively roared its appreciation. Norton has said the third fight with Ali was the last boxing match for which he was fully motivated, owing to his disappointment at having lost a fight he believed he had clearly won.

Aftermath: Norton becomes champion[edit source | edit]

1977 was a top year for Norton. He knocked out previously unbeaten top prospect Duane Bobick in one round, and after despatching European title holder Lorenzo Zannon easily, he beat number two contender Jimmy Young (who himself had beaten George Foreman and Ron Lyle) in a 15-round split decision in a WBC big mandatory title-elimination fight, with the winner to face reigning WBC champion Ali, but Ali's camp told Ring Magazine they did not want to fight Norton for a fourth time. Both boxers fought a smart fight; however, observers thought the decision controversial.
Plans, however, changed on February 15, 1978. On that night, in front of a nationwide television audience, Ali lost his title to Leon Spinks. The WBC then ordered a match between the new champion and its number one contender, but Spinks chose instead to give the fallen champion the first shot at taking his title[18] rather than face the still dangerous Norton.[19] The WBC responded on March 18, 1978, by retroactively giving title fight status to Norton's victory over Young the year before and awarded Norton their championship, which split the heavyweight championship for the first time since Jimmy Ellis and Joe Frazier were both recognized as champions in the early 1970s.[20][21]

Larry Holmes title fight[edit source | edit]

In his first defense of the WBC title on June 9, 1978, Norton and new #1 contender Larry Holmes met in a classic fight. After 15 brutal rounds, Holmes was awarded the title via an extremely close split decision. The three judges' cards were as follows: 143-142 for Holmes, 143-142 for Holmes, and 143-142 for Norton.[22] The Associated Press scored it 143-142 for Norton.[23] The March 2001 edition of The Ring magazine listed the final round of the Holmes-Norton bout as the 7th most exciting round in boxing history. As noted above, Holmes-Norton is ranked as the 10th greatest heavyweight fight of all time by Monte D. Cox, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO). Holmes went on to become the third-longest reigning world heavyweight champion in the history of boxing, behind Joe Louis and Wladimir Klitschko. Years later, Holmes wrote of his experience that this was his toughest match in over 70 contests.

Retirement looms[edit source | edit]

After losing to Holmes, Norton won his next fight by knockout over sixth-ranked Randy Stephens in 1978[24] before taking on Earnie Shavers in another compulsory.[25] WBC title eliminator fight in Las Vegas on March 23, 1979. It appeared for the first time that Norton's career had perhaps hit a decline, as Shavers took the former champion out in the first round (Norton's peak was 1973-1978.)[26] Then, in his next fight, he fought to a draw with future contender Scott LeDoux at the Met Center in Minneapolis. Norton carried the day until sustaining an injury when he took a thumb in the eye in the eighth round, which immediately changed the bout. LeDoux rallied from that point and Norton became decidedly fatigued. Norton was down two times in the final round, resulting in the draw; Norton fell behind on one scorecard, kept his lead on the second, and dropped to even on the third (the unofficial AP scorecard was 5-3-2 Norton).[27]
After the fight, Norton decided that at 37 it was time to retire from boxing.[28] However, not satisfied with the way he had gone out, Norton returned to the ring to face the undefeated Randall "Tex" Cobb in Cobb's home state of Texas on November 7, 1980. In a back-and-forth fight, Norton escaped with a split decision, with referee Tony Perez and judge Chuck Hassett voting in his favor and judge Arlen Bynum giving the fight to Cobb.
The win over the title contending Cobb gave Norton another shot at a potential title fight, and on May 11, 1981. at Madison Square Garden he stepped into the ring with top contender Gerry Cooney, who like Cobb was undefeated entering the fight. Very early in the fight it became clear that Norton was no longer the caliber of fighter he once was, as Cooney's first punch caused Norton's legs to buckle. Norton continued to take shots from Cooney in his corner for nearly a full minute before Perez, who refereed his last fight, stepped in to stop the bout 54 seconds in, as Norton was slumped in his corner. Norton decided to retire following the match and turned his attention to charitable pursuits.[29] Norton's enduring legacy as a fighter is that he is considered second to Joe Frazier as Ali's main nemesis and toughest opponent. Norton fought Ali to three decisions and was never hurt or knocked down. All three bouts were close and subject to controversy. Unfortunately, Norton was less successful against three of the greatest punchers of all time, losing by KO to Foreman and Shavers and by TKO to Cooney.[30] Norton was considered past his prime in boxing from 1979 to 1981.[26]

Awards and recognitions[edit source | edit]

Ken Norton is a 1989 inductee of the World Boxing Hall of Fame,[31] a 1992 inductee of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame,[32] a 2004 inductee into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame,[5] and a 2008 inductee into the WBC Hall of Fame.
The 1998 holiday issue of The Ring ranked Norton #22 among "The 50 Greatest Heavyweights of All Time." Norton received the Boxing Writers Association of America J. Niel trophy for "Fighter of the Year" in 1977.
Norton, a proponent of motivational author Napoleon Hill's writings [33] (e.g. Think and Grow Rich [9][34] as noted above and Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude [19] by Hill and W. Clement Stone) also received the "Napoleon Hill Award" for positive thinking in 1973 (Norton, et al., 2000, p. 46).
In 2001, Norton was inducted by the San Diego Hall of Champions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame honoring San Diego's finest athletes both on and off the playing surface.[3] Norton was also inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. [35]

Unconventional style[edit source | edit]

Norton was a forward, pressing fighter/boxer who was notable for his unusual guard/stance characterised by arms held crosswise. The left arm low across the torso and right hand up by the right or left ear. But when under heavy pressure both arms were brought up high across at face level whilst one leant forward. This left the opponent little target in theory. The guard was also used by the legendary Archie Moore. George Foreman later used it very effectively during his famous comeback years. Tim Witherspoon was another practitioner. Joe Frazier even borrowed it for occasions in his third Ali match. The style is named the "cross-armed defense". It tends to look crablike. Norton would bob and weave from a crouch firing well placed heavy punches. Norton was best when advancing. He'd drag or slide the right foot along from behind. By comparison, most conventional boxers have elbows in at the torso with forearms vertically parallel to each another. The gloves then being both near sides of the face. Most trainers believe the conventional style is a better defence and that the cross-arm style leaves the user open far too often.
But Norton's style was in itself fascinating. He gave Ali more trouble than anyone else in history over three contests - no small feat by any standard. He could, as they say in the trade, 'box' or 'fight'. Norton was never fazed by Ali's various famous tactics like clinching or rope-a-dope. In fact, Ali usually found rope-a-dope a particularly unpleasant experience with Norton, as Ken would get many punches through. He seemed to have a unique ability here. Then Ali's famous clinching and holding or launching sharp shots from a distance were all for various reasons not as effective as when Ali fought Frazier, the only other man he fought three times.
Angelo Dundee wrote that Ken's best punch was the left hook. Many others lauded his infamous overhand right. In a Ring Magazine article, Norton himself said that a right uppercut to Jerry Quarry was the hardest blow he recalled landing.
Unlike many boxers, Norton would often not attempt to stare down an opponent while announcements were made before the match started. Instead, he'd often look down at the floor and gather his thoughts. He was also widely noted for his fine athletic build.

Later media career[edit source | edit]

During the height of his boxing career, Norton started to appear in feature films. After two uncredited appearances in the early 1970s, he played the title characters in the 1975 film Mandingo and the 1976 film Drum. Norton played characters in 9 motion pictures, and also appeared as himself in a number of documentaries and television films.
Norton additionally worked as a television and radio sports commentator and appeared in popular TV series, such as jailbird "Jackhammer" Jackson in "Pros and Cons", an early first-season episode of The A-Team (filmed 1982, broadcast 1983), and as boxer Bo Keeler in the fourth season Knight Rider episode "Redemption of a Champion" (1986). Norton also appeared on the Superstars sports competition on ABC TV (1976) and was a member of the Sports Illustrated Speakers Bureau. The character of "Apollo Creed" in Rocky was initially going to be played by Norton. However, when he pulled out, Carl Weathers was selected.
Norton continued making TV, radio and public speaking appearances until suffering injuries in a near-fatal car accident in 1986. It left him with slow and slurred speech.[36][37][38]
He appeared along with Ali, Foreman, Frazier and Holmes in a video, Champions Forever, discussing their best times, and in 2000 he published his autobiography, Going the Distance (ISBN 1-58261-225-0).

Family[edit source | edit]

Ken Norton was twice voted "Father of the Year" by the Los Angeles Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times in 1977.[34][39] To quote Norton from his biography, Believe: Journey From Jacksonville: "Of all the titles that I've been privileged to have, the title of 'dad' has always been the best." [40]
His son, Ken Norton Jr, played football at UCLA and had a long successful career in the NFL. In tribute to his father's boxing career, Ken Jr. would strike a boxing stance in the end zone each time he scored a defensive touchdown and throw a punching combination at the goalpost pad. He is now the linebackers' coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
Ken Norton's other son, Keith Norton, was once the weekend sports anchor for KPRC in Houston, Texas.[41]

Death[edit source | edit]

Norton died on September 18, 2013, at a care facility in Las Vegas. He was 70 years old and had suffered a series of strokes in later life.[42] Across the boxing world tributes were paid, with George Foreman calling him "the fairest of them all", and Larry Holmes saying that "[Norton] will be incredibly missed in the boxing world and by many."[43]

Professional boxing record[edit source | edit]

42 Wins (33 knockouts), 7 Losses, 1 Draw [4]
Loss42-7-1United States Gerry CooneyTKO1 (10)11/05/1981United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win42-6-1United States Randall CobbSD1007/11/1980United States HemisFair Arena, San Antonio, Texas, United StatesPrior the Norton-Cobb matchup, Cobb beat Earnie Shavers by TKO in 8ht on August 2, 1980. Incidentally, Ken Norton was the Color Analyst for the TV broadcast of the Cobb-Shavers fight.
Draw41-6-1United States Scott LeDouxPTS1019/08/1979United States Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota, United StatesNorton was knocked down twice in round 10.
Loss41–6United States Earnie ShaversKO1 (12)23/03/1979United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win41–5United States Randy StephensKO3 (10)10/11/1978United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesNorton hit Stephens with a good shot in the 3rd round that staggered him.
Loss40–5United States Larry HolmesSD1509/06/1978United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesLost WBC Heavyweight title. Norton was late in his prime for his first title defense vs. Holmes, who was early in his peak.
Win40–4United States Jimmy YoungSD1505/11/1977United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesEliminator for WBC Heavyweight title. Shortly after this fight, Norton was awarded the WBC title as Leon Spinks signed to fight Muhammad Ali in a rematch instead of WBC #1 ranked Norton.
Win39–4Italy Lorenzo ZanonKO5 (10)14/09/1977United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win38–4United States Duane BobickTKO1 (12)11/05/1977United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Loss37–4United States Muhammad AliUD1528/09/1976United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United StatesFor WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles.
Win37–3United States Larry MiddletonTKO10 (10)10/07/1976United States Sports Arena, San Diego, California, United StatesThis fight was billed as "The Battle of the Jaw Breakers" as Middleton had broken Joe Bugner's jaw and Norton had broken Muhammed Ali's jaw.
Win36–3United States Ron StanderTKO5 (12)30/04/1976United States Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, United States
Win35–3Argentina Pedro LovellTKO5 (10)10/01/1976United States Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win34–3Venezuela Jose Luis GarciaKO5 (10)14/08/1975United States Civic Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United StatesGarcia was knocked down once in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds.
Win33–3United States Jerry QuarryTKO5 (12)24/03/1975United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United StatesWon vacant NABF Heavyweight title. Title had been vacated by Muhammad Ali.
Win32–3United States Rico BrooksKO1 (10)04/03/1975United States Red Carpet Inn, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Win31–3United States Boone KirkmanRTD7 (10)25/06/1974United States Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington, Washington, United StatesKirkman was knocked down in the 7th, and did not answer the bell for the 8th round.
Loss30–3United States George ForemanTKO2 (15)26/03/1974Venezuela El Poliedro, Caracas, VenezuelaFor WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles. Norton down 3 times. This fight would became known as the "Caracas Caper".
Loss30–2United States Muhammad AliSD1210/09/1973United States Forum, Inglewood, California, United StatesLost NABF Heavyweight title.
Win30–1United States Muhammad AliSD1231/03/1973United States Sports Arena, San Diego, California, United StatesWon NABF Heavyweight title. Ali suffered a broken jaw during this bout. There were no knockdowns.
Win29–1United States Charlie RenoUD1013/12/1972United States San Diego, California, United States
Win28–1United States Henry ClarkKO9 (10)21/11/1972United States Sahara Tahoe Hotel, Stateline, Nevada, United States
Win27–1United States James J. WoodyTKO8 (10)30/06/1972United States San Diego, California, United States
Win26–1United States Herschel JacobsUD1005/06/1972United States San Diego, California, United States
Win25–1United States Jack O'HalloranUD1017/03/1972United States Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States
Win24–1United States Charlie HarrisKO3 (?)17/02/1972United States San Diego, California, United States
Win23–1United States James J. WoodyUD1029/09/1971United States Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States
Win22–1United States Chuck HaynesKO7 (10)07/08/1971United States Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California, United States
Win21–1United States Vic BrownKO5 (10)12/06/1971United States Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California, United States
Win20–1United States Steve CarterTKO3 (10)12/06/1971United States Valley Music Theatre, Woodland Hills, California, United States
Win19–1United States Roby HarrisKO2 (?)16/10/1970United States Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States
Win18–1United States Chuck LeslieUD1026/09/1970United States Valley Music Theatre, Woodland Hills, California, United States
Win17–1United States Roy WallaceKO4 (?)29/08/1970United States Coliseum, San Diego, California, United States
Loss16–1Venezuela Jose Luis GarciaKO8 (10)02/07/1970United States Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesNorton knocked down in 1st and 8th rounds.
Win16–0United States Ray Junior EllisKO2 (?)08/05/1970United States San Diego, California, United States
Win15–0United States Bob MashburnKO4 (10)07/04/1970United States Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Win14–0United States Stamford HarrisTKO3 (10)13/03/1970United States Coliseum, Arena, San Diego, California, United States
Win13–0United States Aaron EastlingKO2 (10)04/02/1970United States Coliseum, Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win12–0United States Julius GarciaKO3 (10)21/10/1969United States San Diego, California, United States
Win11–0United States Gary BatesKO8 (10)25/07/1969United States San Diego, California, United States
Win10–0United States Bill McMurrayTKO7 (10)25/07/1969United States Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesA cut over McMurray's left eye, ended the bout.
Win9–0Puerto Rico Pedro SanchezTKO2 (10)31/03/1969United States Sports Arena, San Diego, California, United States
Win8–0United States Wayne KindredTKO9 (10)20/02/1969United States Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States
Win7–0United States Joe HemphillTKO3 (10)11/02/1969United States Valley Music Theatre, Woodland Hills, California, United States
Win6–0United States Cornell NolanKO6 (10)08/12/1968United States Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States
Win5–0United States Wayne KindredTKO6 (10)23/07/1968United States Circle Arts Theater, San Diego, California, United States
Win4–0United States Jimmy GilmoreKO7 (8)26/03/1968United States Community Concourse, San Diego, California, United States
Win3–0United States Harold DutraKO3 (6)06/02/1968United States Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, California, United StatesNorton knocked down in the 2nd round.
Win2–0United States Sam WyattPTS616/01/1968United States Community Concourse, San Diego, California, United States
Win1–0United States Grady BrazellKO5 (6)14/11/1967United States Community Concourse, San Diego, California, United States
  • KO - knock-out
  • PTS - decision on points
  • RTD -
  • SD - split decision
  • TKO - technical knock-out
  • UD - unanimous decision