Ken Norton, 6' 2 ¾", 220lbs, made boxing history in 1973 when he met Muhammad Ali for the North American Boxing Federation title, and won, breaking Ali's jaw in the process.
Ken's overall success, he believes, is based on pushing himself to the limit and being the best that he can possibly be. Growing up in Jacksonville , Illinois boxing was not one of Norton's early interests. He earned himself a football, basketball and track scholarship to Northeast Missouri State College, and it wasn't until he enlisted in the Marine Corps that Ken was introduced to boxing. In time, Ken became the best boxer to ever fight for the Marines, and was awarded the North Carolina AAU Golden Gloves, International AAU and Pan American titles. Ken was inducted into the Marine Corp Hall of Fame in 2004.
Norton's professional ring career began in 1967 at the age of 23, and it was six years later that he finally got his shot at the title. Going up against Ali in 1973, Norton seized the opportunity and won, in what boxing experts call one of the most memorable fights of all time. This victory was followed the same year with another bout against Ali, and this time Ken lost a split decision. The two heavyweights met a final time in 1976, for the title, Norton lost this bout in a highly disputed split decision. Ken was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.
During the height of his boxing career, Norton was screen-tested and won the role in Dino De Laurentis' film " Mandingo". This was later followed by a second film "Drum" , both of which were international hits. Ken has appeared in aprox 20 films. On September 9, 1973, Norton was awarded the internationally famed Napoleon Hill Award for being an "outstanding positive thinker." Norton was the first athlete and the first African American to receive the honor. This award seems only appropriate for the man whose motto is, "What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve". Ken is working on a new book.
In 1986, Norton was in a car crash that left him with a fractured skull, jaw, and broken leg and no recollection of what had happened. Through it all, he remained a positive thinker and would not accept any prognosis but his own. His doctor told him that he would not walk or talk again after the accident, but Norton refused to accept any prediction that did not include what he visualized. Norton said "At first they thought I might die, and if I didn't die, I wouldn't be coherent. Now I'm talkin' and walkin' and I can even chew gum at the same time." The power of positive thinking led Norton by the hand through his rehabilitation, with determination and drive, Norton regained the ability to walk, talk, laugh, and even to chew gum. It is no wonder that he received the Napoleon Hill Award for positive thinking: he deserved it!!
With a special place in his heart for his Mother Ruth, 5 children; Keith, Ken Jr., Brandon, Kenisha and Kenejon, and his 6 grandchildren; Brittany, Cameron, Michael, Nicholas, Sabrina and Ken III, these days Norton has his hands full of love for this family and friends.
Living in Orange County California near the Pacific ocean, life could not be better for Ken and his family.