The Night the Ali-Liston Fight Came to Lewiston

The heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stood over Sonny Liston in the first round of their title fight in Lewiston, Me., on May 25, 1965, and was heard to say, “Get up and fight, sucker!”

“LEWISTON, Me. — A couple of times each month, with the rate accelerating during summer, a car will pull into the parking lot of a small, quaint multipurpose arena on Birch Street in this once-thriving mill city along the banks of the Androscoggin River. Mike Cain, who manages the building for his father’s company, will notice the visitors from his office as they look up uncertainly at the property’s most modern feature, a two-tone gray brick facade built a decade ago, with their cameras or smartphones poised. If he is not too busy, Cain will go outside, say hello. ‘From all over the world, people come,’ he said. ‘They say, Is this where the fight really happened?’  Yes, he will tell them, this is where Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of their championship rematch with his so-called phantom punch in 1965. And until the city of Lewiston gave the distressed building a face-lift and paved its dirt parking lot before selling it to private owners about seven years ago, time had virtually stood still. Hollywood once called with a request for an old photo of the arena while planning for a 2001 biopic on Ali, starring Will Smith. The film people were told that nothing much had changed from 1965. The old place — back then alternately called St. Dominic’s Arena or the Central Maine Youth Center — still looked like a cross between an airplane hangar and an oversize barn. Behind the facade, it still does. Inside what is now called the Androscoggin Bank Colisée, the original salmon-color seats have been repainted blue, but a timeless atmospheric quality remains. Walk through its shadowed center, where a boxing ring was once hastily installed in the middle of a hockey rink, and it could be 50 years ago May 25, when a heavyweight championship circus descended on unsuspecting Lewiston, when a brash 23-year-old champion — introduced for the first time as Muhammad Ali, rather than Cassius Clay — stood over a fallen Liston, shouting, ‘Get up and fight, sucker!’ In this no-frills arena, set in a modest residential neighborhood and originally built by a parish in 1958 for high school hockey games, the golden anniversary of what many would consider the most controversial, and craziest, title fight in history will be celebrated Monday night with a premiere showing of a 27-minute documentary, ‘Raising Ali’. …”
NY Times
W – Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston
Independent – Muhammad Ali: symbol of the civil rights movement
Swallowtail: Raising Ali 27:00
YouTube: Muhammad Ali PHANTOM PUNCH KOs Sonny Liston May 25, 1965 11:22, Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston, May 25, 1965 33:18

Muhammad Ali with Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Black Power, Civil Rights Mov., Draft board, Malcolm X, Movie, Sports, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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