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Was Famous Boxing Match Between Muhammed Ali and Sonny Liston Fixed? FBI Suspected So

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It was one of the most storied sports moments in history – Muhammed Ali defeating heavyweight champion Sonny Liston 50 years ago today.

But was the fight fixed?

The Washington Times asks [2] this question after receiving four-decade-old records that show the FBI believed the fight may have been decided by a Las Vegas figure, Ash Resnick, who is tied to organized crime and Liston.

The most eye-opening evidence comes from a 1966 interview with Houston gambler Barnett Magids.

“On one occasion, Resnick [3] introduced Magids [4] to Sonny Liston [5] at the Thunderbird, [one of the Las Vegas hotels organized crime controlled],” the memo states. “About a week before the Liston and Clay [6] fight in Miami, Resnick [3] called and invited Magids [4] and his wife for two weeks in Florida on Resnick [3]. Magids [4]‘ wife was not interested in going, but Magids [4] decided to go along, and Resnick [3] was going to send him a ticket.

“Two or three days before the fight, Magids [4] called Resnick [3] at the Fontainebleau Hotel [7] in Miami to say he could not come,” the memo states. “On this call, he asked Resnick [3] who he liked in the fight, and Resnick [3] said that Liston [5] would knock Clay [6] out in the second round. Resnick [3] suggested he wait until just before the fight to place any bets because the odds may come down.

“At about noon on the day of the fight, [Magids [4]] reached Resnick [3] again by phone, and at this time, Resnick [3] said for him to not make any bets, but just go watch the fight on pay TV and he would know why and that he could not talk further at that time.

Magids [4] did go see the fight on TV and immediately realized that Resnick [3] knew that Liston [5] was going to lose,” the document states. “A week later, there was an article in Sports Illustrated writing up Resnick [3] as a big loser because of his backing of Liston [5]. Later people ‘in the know’ in Las Vegas told Magids [4] that Resnick [3] and Liston [5] both reportedly made over $1 million betting against Liston [5] on the fight and that the magazine article was a cover for this.”