The secret documents that could shed light on sport’s famous conspiracy theories


With long-classified documents concerning the assassination of President John F Kennedy due to be released pending President Donald Trump's approval, conspiracy theories are running wild. The sporting world is not immune to such theories either, with a long history of alleged fixes, frame-ups, biased officiating, doped-up athletes and inside jobs filling the imagination of aggrieved and bitter fans. Let's ignore Ockham's Razor and entertain some of them.

Did Sonny Liston take a dive?

By 1965, Muhammad Ali was no longer Cassius Clay and had taken the world heavyweight title from the grasp of intimidating bruiser Sonny Liston. Their second title fight in Maine however, would be shrouded in controversy forevermore. Ali caught Liston with what looked an innocuous counter-punch in the first-round, but Liston hit the canvas.

Referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not begin the count, and the after Liston stayed down for more than 10 seconds the fight was stopped after a brief resumption. Ali won on technical knockout, and the decisive blow was called 'The Phantom Punch'.

Rumours abound that Liston bet against on himself to pay off gambling debts, that the Nation of Islam made threats against his life or the Mafia fixed the result. Ali's punch did catch Liston a glancing blow to the temple however, and that would be the simplest explanation. Make your own mind up.

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