On March 22, 1967 Muhammad Ali knocked out Zora Folley in seven rounds. It would be the last time the greatest heavyweight in boxing history would enter the ring for three-and-one-half years. After this bout Ali was stripped of his title, his right to a boxing license denied.
Folley is remembered now mostly by boxing historians. But he was a serious contender during the 1960s. He took up boxing after joining the Army in the early 1950s. He was a natural, quickly earning All-Army and All-Service Championships. He also served in combat in Korea.
Folley fought a who’s who of the 1950s and 1960s–men like Sonny Liston, Ernie Terrell, George Chuvalo, Nino Valdes, Doug Jones, Peter Rademacher, Eddie Machen, Henry Cooper, Oscar Bonavena and Karl Mildenberger.
But this fight with Ali was his only shot at the World Title. He was a well-traveled veteran by the time it took place–14 years as a pro, with a record of 74-7-4 and 40 KOs. The version of Ali he faced was all-but unbeatable. Only a month-and-a-half prior, Ali had turned in a boxing clinic while battering Terrell for 15 brutal rounds. Against Folley he was merciful, finishing his victim almost exactly half way through the fight.
During Ali’s banishment from the sport, Joe Frazier would emerge as a wrecking machine, claiming the “vacant” world title and setting up the biggest boxing match in history–the Fight of the Century, the first Ali-Frazier clash, in March 1971.