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Thursday, 21 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #34 – 21 May 1966

On 21 May, 1966, Muhammad Ali beat Henry Cooper in the sixth round of a fight in London to retain the world heavyweight championship.  Cooper's hopes of bringing the title back to the UK were dashed one minute and 38 seconds into the sixth when the referee stopped the fight - a deep gash over his left eye forced him to concede victory to Ali, 24.  About 40,000 spectators watched at the Arsenal football ground in Highbury, as Cooper, fought bravely with his big left hooks to battle against Ali’s quick footwork and fast punches.

After the fight Cooper was sent to Guys Hospital where he had 12 stitches for the cut that dashed his hopes of world victory.  His manager Jim Wicks, said Ali had butted Cooper with his head and should have been disqualified. (Later, analysis of slow-motion film concluded there was no clash of heads.)

The 1960 Olympic champion, famed for proclaiming "I am the greatest!", took the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston in 1964.

He was left unmarked by the Cooper fight apart from some swelling on the cheekbone under his left eye - the result of one of Cooper's best punches.  After his win, he went to Cooper's dressing room to see him and said: "I hate to spill blood. It's against my religion."

His manager and 'spiritual adviser' Herbert Muhammed said Ali should be proud of his performance. "It was a wonderful punch," he said. "The same one that broke Liston. It's terrible to see a man destroyed like that. I think the referee should have stopped the fight before."

Sir Henry Cooper
3 May 1934 – 1 May 2011 

Muhammad Ali 
January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

Sources: BBC and others

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