by Simon Black
In February 1964, a 22-year old Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) faced off against a gigantic Sonny Liston, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Liston was an imposing opponent. I mean– this was a guy with mob ties who learned to box while serving hard time in prison. Plus he had twice devastated boxing great Floyd Patterson with two first-round knockouts, and he had a substantial reach advantage over Ali.
Ali knew it. And despite all the trash talking, he was nervous. His pulse rate was a whopping 120 at the pre-fight weigh in, more than twice his usual 54.
But seven rounds into the fight, Ali had won a major upset. And the pictures from immediately afterward show that even Ali was shocked.
I thought about this the other day upon reading the news of US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in the primary election to David Brat, a political unknown.
Judging by the long stream of ‘holy crap’ tweets, Brat, like Ali, did what most people (including himself) thought was impossible.