FAMOUS MARINES: N
Born: October 7, 1943 San Antonio, Texas
Oliver L. North is a combat decorated Marine, a #1 best-selling author, the founder of a small business, an inventor with three U.S. patents, a syndicated columnist, the host of a nationally-syndicated daily radio show and the host of "War Stories" on the Fox News Channel, yet claims his most important accomplishment as being "the husband of one and the father of four."
North was born in San Antonio, Texas, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and served 22 years as a U.S. Marine. His awards for service in combat include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for wounds in action. Assigned to the National Security Council Staff in the Reagan administration,Colonel North was the United States government's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator from 1983-1986 and was involved in planning the rescue of medical students on the Island of Grenada and played a major role in the daring capture of the hijackers of the cruise ship Achille Lauro.
After helping plan the U.S. raid on Muammar Gaddafi's terrorist bases in Libya, North was targeted for assassination by Abu Nidal, one of the world's deadliest assassin. Oliver North broadcasts his nationally syndicated Common Sense Radio,Monday-Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. eastern time, from the studios of Radio America in Washington, D.C. Additionally, his award-winning weekly documentary, "War Stories" airs each Sunday night on the FOX News Channel. His first two books, Under Fire and One More Mission were international best sellers. His latest book, "Mission Compromised" also rose to the New York Times best seller list. North is also the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation which provides scholarships for the sons and daughters of service members killed in action.
Ken Norton's name is inextricably linked to that of Muhammad Ali. Norton fought Ali three times and handed "The Greatest" the second defeat of his career, the result of a jaw fracturing punch in the first round. Asked in a 1992 interview what he thought he would be most remembered for, Norton replied, "fighting Ali." Nevertheless, Norton was a key player in the heavyweight wars of the 1960's and '70's. He was an aggressive fighter who could move with a confusing fluidity and who commanded a dangerous repertoire of punches.
Unlike many fighters, Norton did not grow up boxing or dreaming of becoming a fighter. He played football, basketball, and track in high school and received a scholarship to Northeast Missouri State, which he attended for two years. It wasn't until Norton joined the Marine Corps that he began boxing. In the Marines, Norton compiled a 24-2 amateur record and won the All-Marine heavyweight title three times. He also won a title in the Pan-American Games trials. Norton turned pro in 1967 at the relatively advanced age of 24 with a knockout of Grady Brazell. He fought primarily in the Southern California area and won his first sixteen fights before suffering a knockout loss to Jose Luis Garcia, the first ranked contender he ever faced. This was a loss he avenged five years later.
By 1972, Norton appeared in the number nine in The Ring's annual ranking of top contenders. In March 1973, Norton faced Ali for the NABF heavyweight title in a fight broadcast on national television from the San Diego Sports Arena. Ali had failed to train adequately for the match and had trouble avoiding Norton's advances. Norton, who was in top form, broke Ali's jaw in the first round. Although Ali went the distance, the injury took its toll and Norton won on a split decision. Ali won the rematch in Los Angeles in September with a blistering final round. Again the result was a split decision.
Norton then faced George Foreman in March 1974 in Caracas for the heavyweight championship. Foreman won easily, knocking Norton out in the second round. Norton beat Jerry Quarry in New York in 1975 with a fifth round TKO to take the NABF heavyweight title. Seeking a world title, Norton again faced Ali, acknowledged as champion once more after a win over Foreman. The fight was held in Yankee Stadium in 1976 in front of 30,296 fans. Norton led early on but Ali recovered and won a unanimous decision, though Norton clearly believed that he had won the fight.
Norton was awarded the WBC heavyweight title when Leon Spinks refused to honor an agreement to defend his title against Norton. Norton defended his awarded championship against Larry Holmes and lost a close decision in a very exciting bout. Norton's pressing style combined with a hook to the body and a right uppercut to the head made him a formidable foe. But after losing to Earnie Shavers and Gerry Cooney in one-round knockouts, he retired. Norton, whose undeniable good looks were affected very little by boxing, had a brief acting career. His son, Ken Norton, Jr., grew up to become a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys and has played in three Super Bowls.
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