Ken Norton Biography

Ken Norton was an African-American professional boxer and is considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: August 9, 1943 Black Celebrities Born on August 9

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors Boxers

Died At Age: 70

Sun Sign: Leo

Also Known As: Kenneth Howard Norton Sr., The Black Hercules, The Jaw Breaker, The Fighting Marine

Born Country: United States

Born in: Jacksonville, Illinois, United States

Famous as: Boxer

Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Rose Conant (m. ?–2013), Jeannette Norton (m. 1966–1968)

father: John Norton

mother: Ruth Norton

children: Brandon Norton, Keith Norton, Ken Norton Jr., Kenejon Norton, Kenisha Norton

Died on: September 18, 2013

place of death: Henderson, Nevada, United States

Cause of Death: Stroke

U.S. State: Illinois, African-American From Illinois

More Facts

education: Truman State University

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Ken Norton was an African-American professional boxer and is considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. He holds the distinction of being only the second professional boxer to ever beat “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali. In his career, he fought against the likes of Jack O’Halloran, George Foreman, Randall Cobb, and Larry Holmes to name a few. He also won the ‘World Boxing Council’ heavyweight championship. He was known for his unusual cross-armed defensive stance and was equally lethal when it came to offense. His forward-pressing stance was only matched by his powerful punches, especially the left hook. His overhand right was equally effective with Norton himself considering it one of his most deadly moves. These skills and his unmatched power clearly contributed to the incredible 33 wins by knockouts in his career. Apart from boxing, he also did a few acting roles. Ken Norton was seen in movies ‘Mandingo’, ‘Drum’, etc. He even made several appearances on popular TV shows like ‘The A-Team’, ‘Knight Rider’, and ‘Ryan’s Four’, etc. He also wrote the autobiography ‘Going the Distance’.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Ken Norton’s boxing career started when he joined the ‘United States Marine Corps’ (1963–1967). He also served as a manual Morse and other communications intercepting officer. He graduated from the ‘NCTC Corry Station’ Pensacola, Florida.
  • While serving in the ‘Marine Corps’, Ken won three ‘All-Marine Heavyweight’ titles and compiled a 24–2 win-loss record. He switched to a professional boxing career in 1967. His first match was a victory against Grady Brazell on November 14, 1967.
  • Ken Norton went on to win his first sixteen pro-boxing matches before suffering his first loss against Jose Luis Garcia through knockout on July 2, 1970. In 1971–1972, Norton registered straight victories against Steve Carter, James J. Woody, Charles Harris, Jack O’Halloran, and others.
  • His first high profile match was against boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the ‘San Diego Sports Arena’. On March 31, 1973, he handed Ali, only the second loss in his career and even broke Ali’s jaw. He thus won the ‘NABF Heavyweight Title’ with a 30–1 score.
  • On September 10, 1973, he fought Muhammad Ali again for the rematch. He lost the match and the ‘NABF Heavyweight Title’ in a controversial split decision. Ken Norton then fought George Foreman in 30 – 3 losing effort on March 26, 1974.
  • He went on to win his next seven matches (1975–1976), against Jerry Quarry, Jose Luis Garcia, Pedro Lovell, Ron Stander, and others.
  • Norton faced Muhammad Ali for the third and last time on September 28, 1976. He lost 37–4 again in a controversial decision. Although he won his next fight against Duane Bobick on May 11, 1977, his third loss to Ali broke his spirits.
  • He was given the ‘WBC Heavyweight Title’ on March 18, 1978, after his match against Jimmy Young on November 5, 1977, was named a title match. Norton lost the ‘WBC Heavyweight Title’ to Larry Holmes on June 9, 1978.
  • His last victory came against Randall Cobb on November 7, 1980. He lost his last match against Gerry Cooney on May 11, 1981, and retired. In his career he fought 50 professional fights, winning 42.
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  • He also starred in movies like ‘Mandingo’ (1975) and ‘Drum’ (1976). He also had small roles in movies like ‘Delta Pi’ (1984), ‘Kiss and Be Killed’ (1993), and ‘The Man Who Came Back’ (2008).
  • His TV roles included series like ‘The A-Team’ (1983), ‘Knight Rider’ (1986), and TV movie ‘Oceans of Fire’ (1986), etc.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Ken Norton was inducted into the ‘World Boxing Hall of Fame’ in 1989. He was also inducted into the ‘International Boxing Hall of Fame’ in 1992.
  • In 2001, Norton was inducted into the ‘Breitbard Hall of Fame’. He was also inducted into the 2004 ‘United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame’.
  • Similarly, he entered the ‘World Boxing Council Hall of Fame’ in 2008. He was also honored by being inducted into the ‘California Sports Hall of Fame’ in 2011.
Family & Personal Life
  • Ken Norton was married to Jeannette Henderson from 1966 until 1968. Their son Ken Norton Jr. was born on September 29, 1966.
  • He was then married to Jacqueline Halton from August 5, 1977, until 2000. They had three children, sons Keith Norton and KeneJon and daughter Kenisha Eronda
  • Ken married Rose Conant on April 25, 2012. He remained married to her until his death.
  • He died on September 18, 2013, after suffering a series of strokes.

1. Top of the Heap (1972)


2. Mandingo (1975)

  (History, Romance, Drama)

3. Dirty Work (1998)


4. Delta Pi (1984)


5. The All-American Boy (1973)

  (Sport, Drama)

6. Drum (1976)

  (Drama, Action)

See the events in life of Ken Norton in Chronological Order

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