Ken Norton dead at 70, Heavyweight boxing champion succumbs to congestive heart failure

Norton pictured with Tina Turner. - Handout

Ken Norton Sr., the thorn in the side of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, passed away earlier today (Sept. 18, 2013) because of stroke-related heart complications.

One of the most under-appreciated boxing greats has left the life ring.

After a series of strokes over the past two years, Ken Norton Sr. -- the first man to defeat Muhammad Ali (and break his jaw in the process -- passed away today due to congestive hear failure at age 70, according to ESPN.com.

Along with Ali, Smokin' Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Norton was an integral part of the Murderer's Row that put the Heavyweight division back on the map in the 1970s. In addition to his legendary bouts with Ali, the first a win and the latter two extremely close losses, he fought the likes of Foreman, Jerry Quarry and Larry Holmes, among others.

The showdown against Holmes in 1978, in particular, is lauded as one of the greatest fights in the history of the heavyweight division. In fact, "The Ring" magazine listed the final round of that bout as the seventh-most exciting round in boxing history.

Norton retired from the sport in 1981, taking with him a record of 42-7-1 with 33 knockouts.

After his combat sports career ended, Norton appeared in numerous television programs and movies, including episodes of "The A-Team" and "Knight Rider." Unfortunately, he suffered a horrific car accident in 1986, leaving him with the slurred speech most practitioners of his craft acquire from their careers.

Despite doctor's fears, however, Norton not only survived, but continued to appear on both the silver screen and in several boxing documentaries before his death.

The former Marine is survived by his wife Jacqueline and his two sons, three-time SuperBowl champion and current Seahawks Linebackers Coach Ken Jr. and former sports anchor Keith.

R.I.P.

Check out a tribute video to "Black Hercules" below.

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