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Almost all of the boxing news in 1967 centered on heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. In January, his pleas for draft deferment as a conscientious objector and as a Black Muslim minister were rejected by Kentucky Selective Service officials. On February 6, at the Houston Astrodome, he scored a lopsided 15-round decision over title contender Ernie Terrell. On March 22, in New York City, New York, he knocked out Zora Folley in seven rounds, thus scoring his 29th victory in 29 professional fights, 22 of them by knockouts, and successfully defending his title for the ninth time.
On April 28, in Houston, Texas, Ali was arrested by federal marshals after refusing to take the army induction oath. By the next morning, the World Boxing Association, the British Board of Boxing Control, and most American state boxing commissions had issued statements stripping Ali of his heavyweight title. In June, he was tried in Houston for refusing to be inducted. Found guilty, he was given five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but remained at liberty pending appeals. He was, however, prevented from further bouts.
The American boxing establishment began making plans to select a new heavyweight champion as soon as Ali's arrest was made public, and an eight-man tournament began in Houston on August 5. In the quarterfinal matches Oscar Bonavena beat Karl Mildenberger, Jerry Quarry beat Floyd Patterson, Thad Spencer beat Ernie Terrell, and Jimmy Ellis beat Leotis Martin. Ellis then scored a unanimous 12-round decision over Bonavena in the first semifinal, on December 3.
Only one major title actually changed hands in 1967, and that was for less than six months. On April 17, in New York City, Nino Benvenuti won the World Middleweight Title, by decision, from Emile Griffith. Griffith took the title back in New York City on September 29.
Champions as of the End of 1967
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This page was last updated on February 19, 2018.