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Kentucky Sports Timeline

1858 - 1st Baseball Reference In Local Paper

July 15, 1858, Louisville’s earliest box scores appeared in the Louisville Daily Democrat.  The “Louisville Base Ball Club” played on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  The paper noted the club wore uniforms of blue cottonade pants, white flamed shirts with blue piping, dark blue caps and leather belts.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell

1888 - Tony “Icebox” Chamberlin

May 9, 1888, Tony “Icebox” Chamberlin became the first and only switch pitcher to win a game.  It was during Louisville Colonel’s win over Kansas City 18-6.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell

1892 - First Eclipse Baseball Park in Louisville Catches Fire

September 27, 1892, the first Eclipse Baseball Park in Louisville caught fire.  The team built seats and a new fence within 48 hours so that the scheduled games would not be interrupted.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell

1897 - Honus Wagner Begins His Illustrious Major League Career

July 18, 1897, Honus Wagner began his illustrious major league career, in Louisville for the Colonels.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell

1899 - 2nd Eclipse Park Catches on Fire / Last Major League Game in Kentucky

August 12, 1899, fire swept through the second Eclipse Park in Louisville.  It was said to have started by a lightning strike.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell


September 2, 1899, the last major league baseball game for Louisville and Kentucky took place at Eclipse Park.  Louisville beat Washington 25-4.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell

1915 - Kentucky vs Louisville Football

November 6, 1915, Kentucky shutout Louisville 15-0, in Louisville, for the fourth consecutive shutout.


Four years into the rivalry, students at Louisville finally took note, according to the Nov. 16, 1915, edition of the Courier-Journal.


“A setting for the game will mark the beginning of a new era for the gridiron sport in this vicinity,” the newspaper wrote.  “College football is coming into its own in Louisville.  For the first time in the short history of athletic games at the local institution the students have been aroused to the pitch that can come only with time.  The university has found itself, and a loyal body of hundreds of student supporters will cheer the Cardinals this afternoon in their efforts to defeat the Wildcats.”

1922 - Kentucky vs Louisville Football

November 20, 1922, in the early morning hours, the third Eclipse Park burned to the ground.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell


October 14, 1922, Kentucky hosted Louisville, beating them 73 to 0.  The series record stood at 5-0.

1951 - Chandler Steps Down as Commish / UK Wins Sugar Bowl & 3rd NCAA Title

January 1, 1951, the Kentucky Wildcats, led by Coach Bear Bryant, beat the Oklahoma Sooners 13-7 in the 17th Sugar Bowl, considered one of the biggest upsets in college football.  The game pitted Big Seven champion Oklahoma (ranked #1 in the Associated Press poll) against the Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky (ranked #7).  Oklahoma’s regular season record was 10-0; Kentucky’s was 10-1.  Oklahoma averaged 34.5 points per game and entered the game with a 31-game winning streak.  Only one team had scored more than twice in a game against Kentucky that season.  Walt Yowarsky was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.  His position was defensive tackle and recovered a fumble on the Oklahoma 22-yard line, leading to Kentucky’s first score: for a 7-0 Kentucky lead at the end of the first quarter.  He had played less than 5 minutes on defense during the regular season.


March 27, 1951, wins his 3rd NCAA title in Minneapolis.  Bill Spivey scored 22 points and an ailing Cliff Hagan sparked the Wildcats to their third NCAA title.  With a squad consisting of only six healthy players – Walt Hirsch was ineligible and an infected throat plagued Hagan – the Wildcats hardly looked like championship material as Kansas State broke out to a 20-12 lead.  It was then that Rupp inserted the ailing Hagan.  It was a move that may have proved the difference as the sophomore forward sparked a rally that saw UK cut the Kansas State lead to 29-27 at the half.  Led by Hagan and Spivey, who dominated the boards, UK outscored Kansas State 41-29 in the second half to complete the come-from-behind victory.  Most Outstanding Player: Bill Spivey – scored a game-high 22 points on nine field goals and four free throws.


October 20, 1951, Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and Dale Barnstable are charged with accepting bribes for point-shaving in a 1949 game against Loyola.

1961 - Clay's 3rd - 10th Professional Fights / Jimmy Ellis 1st Fight

January 17, 1961, Clay fights Tony Esperti in Miami Beach Auditorium.  On his 19th birthday, Clay knocked out Esperti in the third round of a scheduled eight-round fight.  Esperti, nicknamed “Big Tony,” was an infamous character around Miami Beach.  When his boxing career ended, Esperti found himself in trouble often.  According to TheMiami Herald in 1967, Esperti was arrested 11 times for assault and battery and each time the victims declined to press charges.  On October 31, 1967, at a restaurant in North Bay Village, Fla., Esperti was arrested for allegedly gunning down Thomas “The Enforcer” Altamura, a reputed mobster.  According to newspaper reports, Altamura was waiting to be seated at the restaurant when Esperti allegedly walked up and shot him to death.  Esperti died in 2002 at the age of 72.


February 7, 1961, Clay fights Jimmy Robinson in Miami Beach Convention Hall.  Clay was supposed to fight Willie Guelat on the undercard of the light-heavyweight title fight between Harold Johnson and Jesse Bowdry, but Guelat failed to show up.  Clay knocked out Guelat’s replacement, Robinson, in 94 seconds.


February 21, 1961, Clay fights Donnie Fleeman in Miami Beach Auditorium.  Clay won by technical knockout in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-round fight.  Fleeman, Clay’s first true opponent, was a tough Texan, but he couldn’t cope with Clay’s speed.  Fleeman plodded forward, and Clay picked him off at will.  The fight took seven rounds mainly because Clay decided that seven was enough.  Fleeman, 28,retired after the fight.


April 19, 1961, Clay fights in his hometown for the first time professionally against LaMar Clark.  Clay knocked out Clark, a former chicken farmer from Utah who had won 44 consecutive fights by KO, in the second round of a scheduled 10-round fight.  Clay destroyed Clark, breaking his nose in the process. Clark, 27, retired after the fight.


April 19, 1961, Louisville native Jimmy Ellis won his first professional fight with a third-round knockout.  A sparring partner of Muhammad Ali, Ellis went on to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight championship.  To unify the heavyweight title, he faced World Boxing Council champion “Smokin” Joe Frazier on February 16, 1970; Frazier knocked Ellis out in the fifth round.


June 26, 1961, Clay fights Kolo “Duke” Sabedong in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Clay, fighting for the first time in Las Vegas, the new mecca of boxing, won a 10-round unanimous decision against Sabedong, a strapping 6-6 Hawaiian.  Sabedong, 31, started out fighting dirty and hit Clay below the belt to try to provoke an upset.  But he lacked the speed and skill to bother Clay, who blamed his sluggish showing on trainer Angelo Dundee’s decision to fly them to Las Vegas rather than take the train.  Sabedong died in 2008 at the age of 78.


July 22, 1961, Clay fights Alonzo Johnson in Freedom Hall State Fairground.  Johnson was the first nationally ranked fighter to get in the ring with Clay.  He was a seasoned veteran but had no real punching power.  Johnson gave Clay a tough fight on a sweltering summer night.  The bout went the distance, with Clay winning a unanimous decision. One judge, however, scored it 48-47 for Clay, who was booed by the hometown fans for the first time for his less-than-inspired performance.


October 7, 1961, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., fought his 9th match in his professional career at his home base, the Freedom Hall State Fairground in Louisville.  The 19-year-old Clay weighed 188 lbs. and fought against  26-year-old Alex Meteff from Argentina.  Alex was a promising heavyweight contender known for his body attacks, but he was no match for Clay.  The “Louisville Lip” must have taken to heart the booing from his previous fight because he brutally pounded Miteff, knocking him out in the sixth round.  Miteff retired after losing his next fight.


November 29, 1961, Clay fights Willi Besmanoff in Freedom Hall State Fairgrounds.  Besmanoff, 29, was a German who had fought the likes of Sonny Liston, George Chuvalo, Zora Folley and Archie Moore before Clay. Before the fight, Clay told a TV interviewer, “I’m embarrassed to get in the ring with this unrated duck.  I’m ready for top contenders like Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. Besmanoff must fall in seven!”  Besmanoff was insulted and came right out after Clay.  But Clay toyed with him for six rounds, then KO’d him in the seventh, determined to make good on his prediction.

1962 - Clay's 11th - 16th Professional Fights / Robert Nichols Wins 1st PGA Event

February 10, 1962, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., fights Sonny Banks in Madison Square Garden, his first fight in the venue.  Before the fight, Clay said, “The man must fall in the round I call.  In fact, Banks must fall in four.”  But Banks, 21, became the first to put Clay on the canvas when he knocked him down in the first round.  Banks went down in Round 2, then took a beating from Clay before the fight was stopped early in the fourth round.  Three years later, Banks died from injuries suffered in a nine-round bout vs. Leotis Martin.

March 28, 1962, Clay fights Don Warner in Miami Beach Convention Hall.  Warner was a two-handed puncher who had a good record of wins inside the distance.  “He was a tough left-hooker from Philadelphia,” said Dundee, Ali’s trainer.  Clay said Warner, 22, would go down in the fifth round.  But he sent a bloodied Warner through the ropes in Round 4.  Asked why he had taken Warner in the fourth when he had predicted the fifth, Clay said he had to deduct a round because Warner neglected to shake hands at the weigh-in.


April 13, 1962, Clay fights George Logan in Los Angeles Sports Arena.  Logan threw a lot of left hooks, most of which missed, while Clay’s quick hands opened cuts over Logan’s eyes. The referee stopped it in the fourth round.  But more significant for Clay was his chance meeting with budding photojournalist Howard Bingham, and the two formed a lifelong friendship.


May 19, 1962 Cassius Clay fights an undefeated Billy Daniels in St. Nicholas Arena in New York.  Daniels, from New York, was 6-4 and an Air Force veteran.  He was a good boxer with decent punching power and came into the fight undefeated and rated 10th in the world heavyweight rankings by Ring Magazine.  He was featured on the cover with Clay as two young unbeaten contenders.  Daniels was cut in the second round, and that caused the fight to be stopped in the seventh.


July 20, 1962, Clay fights Alejandro Lavorante in Los Angeles Sports Arena.  Lavorante was another Argentine fighter who was discovered by Jack Dempsey.  He was Hollywood handsome with a great knockout punch.  But Clay knocked out Lavorante in the fifth round.  In his next fight two months later vs. John Riggins (not the football player), Lavorante was KO’d in the sixth round, fell into a coma and died from his injuries 19 months later at age 27. 


November 19, 1962, Clay fights Archie Moore in Los Angeles Sports Arena.  Moore was one of the greatest light heavyweights and most prolific fighters of all time (219 professional fights).  But he was 45 when he fought Clay.  Clay knocked him down three times in the fourth round and won by TKO in the fourth.  Moore’s next fight was his last, and it was against wrestler Mike DiBiase in Phoenix.  Moore beat up on DiBiase and won by TKO in the third round, ending his 27-year career with a victory.

1963 - Clay's 17th - 20th Professional Fights / R. Nichols Wins #3 PGA

January 24, 1963, Cassius Clay fights Charley Powell in Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.  Powell was a former pro football player and the brother of American Football League receiving great Art Powell.  Charley Powell was bigger than Clay and not intimidated by him.  Powell started strong and caught Clay with a few body punches, but he soon realized the deceptiveness of Clay’s strength.  Clay KO’d Powell at the end of Round 3, again finishing an opponent in the round he had predicted.  At this point, Clay had predicted knockouts in 13 of his 14 KO victories.


March 13, 1963, Clay fights Doug Jones in Madison Square Garden.  Before a sold-out Garden crowd (the first sellout there since Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis in 1951), Jones hurt Clay early and often, staggering him in the first round.  By the middle rounds, Clay, realizing he was in a real fight, started using his powerful jab.  While the ringside judges gave Clay a narrow victory, the crowd thought Jones had won and booed Clay unmercifully.  The disputed bout was named Fight of the Year for 1963 by Ring Magazine.


June 18, 1963, Clay fights Henry Cooper in Wembley Stadium.  Cooper, 29, was a top fighter in Europe and had a powerful left hook.  But he was a big underdog against young and brash Clay and was outweighed by 21 pounds.  Cooper came out strong and bloodied Clay’s nose in the first round.  But by the third round, Clay had opened a bad gash over Cooper’s left eye.  Instead of finishing him, though, Clay danced around and taunted Cooper.  Late in the fourth round, Cooper connected with a left hook that floored and hurt Clay.  He got up as the round ended. Clay then opened the gash further in the fifth round, and the fight was stopped.  Clay’s fifth-round KO prediction came true.

1965 - The Most Famous Photo in All of Sports / Robert Nichols Wins #6 PGA

May 25, 1965, Ali fights Sonny Liston again in St. Dominic’s Hall, in Lewiston, Maine.  Because of the way the first fight ended, boxing authorities order a rematch in remote Lewiston.  Only 2,434 fans were present, the lowest attendance ever for a heavyweight title fight.  The end of the fight remains one of the most controversial in boxing history.  Halfway through the first round, Liston fell to the canvas in what many have argued was not a legitimate knockdown.  Ali did not retreat to his corner, but stood over Liston, yelling at him, “Get up and fight, sucker!”  The photo that captured that moment became one of the most famous in all of sports.  Referee Jersey Joe Walcott, a former heavyweight champion, appeared confused, and 20 seconds passed.  By then Liston had gotten up and resumed boxing.  But Nat Fleischer, publisher of The Ring, alerted Walcott that Liston had been down more than the requisite 10 seconds, and Walcott stopped the fight, giving Ali a first-round knockout.  Some claimed that Liston had bet against himself and took a dive because he owed money to the Mafia.  Liston said years later in an interview that he feared for his safety from Nation of Islam extremists who supported Ali.


November 22, 1965, Ali fights Floyd Patterson in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Patterson, on the comeback trail after two losses to Liston, said in a pre-fight interview, “This fight is a crusade to reclaim the title from the Black Muslims.  As a Catholic, I am fighting Clay (he persisted in calling Ali by his birth name) as a patriotic duty.  I am going to return the crown to America.”  Ali toyed with Patterson throughout the fight before winning on a 12th-round TKO.

1966 - Ali's 23rd - 27th Professional Fights / Rupp's Last Final Four

March 19, 1966, in Coach Rupp’s last appearance in the Final Four, “Rupp’s Runts” lose in the NCAA championship game, 72-65, to Texas Western.


March 29, 1966, Ali fights George Chuvalo at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.  Chuvalo, a Canadian, is widely regarded as having the best chin in boxing history, having never been knocked down in 93 fights.  This fight would have been for Ali’s world title, but boxing politics caused it to be called “a heavyweight showdown.”  The fight went the distance, with Ali winning a unanimous decision.  “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought,” Ali said afterward.  Dundee said of Chuvalo: “He never stopped coming on.  You’ve got to admire a man like that.”


May 21, 1966, Ali fights Henry Cooper at the Arsenal Football Stadium in London.  After the controversial first fight, the second was for the world title, but it was fairly anticlimactic.  Cooper, who had a tendency to suffer cuts, succumbed again to his weakness, and a bad cut over his left eye stopped the fight after six rounds.


August 6, 1966, Ali fights Brian London at Earls Court Arena in  London.  London, known as the “Blackpool Tower,” was a mediocre boxer who had been beaten by Cooper three times before he fought Ali.  Ingemar Johansson had said London would have struggled to beat his sister.  Ali toyed with him for a couple rounds before knocking him unconscious in the third round at Dundee’s insistence.


September 10, 1966, Ali fights Karl Mildenberger at Wald Stadium in Frankfurt, West Germany.  Ali continued his European tour.  He was tired and stressed by a return to the USA to continue his fight against the military draft and was nowhere near his best.  He cut Mildenberger in the fourth and dropped him in the fifth, but the German rallied to cause Ali discomfort as the champion worked to finish off the fight.  In the 12th round, with Mildenberger on the ropes, referee Teddy Waltham stopped the fight.  Ali must have been grateful.  At the airport the next day, Waltham’s fee of 1,000 pounds was stolen.  When Ali heard, he gave Waltham the money from his own pocket.


November 14, 1966, Ali fights Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the Houston Astrodome.  Williams, 33, once a formidable fighter, was worn out by this time.  He had been shot in the stomach by a police officer, attacked by a girlfriend with a meat cleaver and gone toe-to-toe twice with Liston, being KO’d early in both fights.  Ali became concerned that Williams might be badly hurt if the bout went on too long.  An indoor-record 35,460 saw Ali, in his own words, “the night I was at my best.”  Howard Cosell told boxing writer Thomas Hauser, “The greatest Ali ever was as a fighter was against Williams.  That night, he was the most devastating fighter who ever lived.”  He also did the “Ali Shuffle” for the first time as a pro before knocking out Williams in the third round.

1967 - Rupp Breaks Record / Gay Brewer / Nate Northington / Ali Fights Draft

February 6, 1967, Ali fights Ernie Terrell in the Houston Astrodome.  Before a record indoor fight crowd of 37,212, Terrell, who held the World Boxing Association belt, insisted on calling Ali by his old name, Cassius Clay.  Big mistake.  Ali broke a bone under Terrell’s left eye early on and damaged his retina.  By the middle rounds Terrell flinched every time Ali drew back his fist.  Ali carried him through all 15 rounds, taunting him with every punch by saying, “What’s my name, Uncle Tom?  What’s my name?”  The fight was described by sports writer Tex Maule as “a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty.”


February 18, 1967, with a 103-74 win over Mississippi State, Coach Rupp becomes college basketball’s all-time winningest coach.


March 22, 1967, Ali fights Zora Folley in Madison Square Garden.  Just before the fight, Ali lost his appeal against his 1-A classification for the draft and was ordered to appear in Louisville on April 11 for induction into the U.S. Army.  In the first heavyweight title fight in the Garden in 15 years, Ali dropped Folley in the fourth round, then knocked out the 35-year-old in the seventh round with a quick right.  This would be Ali’s last fight for three-and-a-half years.



April 9, 1967, Gay Brewer wins a green jacket by one stroke over lifelong friend Bobby Nichols.  It was the first live television broadcast of a golf tournament from the United States to Europe.  Brewer called winning the Masters “the biggest thrill I’ve had in golf.”  In the 1966 Masters, Gay bogeyed the final hole to finish in a three-way tie after regulation play but ended up finishing third to Jack Nicklaus, following an 18-hole playoff.  The Masters is Gay’s only major win.



On September 29th, 1967, Kentucky football player Greg Page died at the age of nineteen.  The next day, Kentucky would play Ole Miss, where his teammate and friend, Nate Northington, became the first black player to play a Kentucky football game and an SEC football game.  Greg and Nate helped tear down racial barriers in the mid-20th century and both are referred to as trailblazers by friends, associates and press.


September 30, 1967, Nate Northington from Louisville, became the first black SEC football player when he played in the Mississippi vs. Kentucky game in Lexington.

1970 - Ali is Back / Kentucky Bass Record / UL 2nd Bowl Win

June 13, 1970, A.E. Sellers of Louisville, set a state fishing record by catching a 7 lbs. 10 ozs. Kentucky Bass.  The Kentucky Bass, also known as a Spotted Bass, is the Kentucky State Fish.  In Kentucky, adult spotted bass are commonly 8 to 15 inches in length, weighing 2 lbs and 8 ozs.  Mr. Sellers caught the bass in a farm pond.  It’s believed that the fish got trapped in the pond by receding floodwaters, where it grew to such enormous size.


October 26, 1970, Ali returns from a three and a half year absence to fight Jerry Quarry in Atlanta.  Quarry was a tough heavyweight who was perfectly capable of winning the heavyweight title that was held by Joe Frazier.  He was not intimidated by Ali, but when he suffered a deep cut over his left eye that his corner was unable to close, referee Tony Perez called it after the third round.  Quarry, bitterly disappointed, got off his chair and moved toward Ali, but he was stopped by Ali’s cornerman, Bundini Brown.


December 1, 1970, Tom Payne plays his first game for the Kentucky Wildcats under Coach Rupp.  Rupp signed Tom Payne, an athletic 7′-2″ center out of Louisville.  This ended the all-white Kentucky basketball teams forever and marked a new era with black Kentucky basketball legends.


December 7, 1970, Ali fights Oscar Bonavena in Madison Square Garden.  Ali needed a court order to allow him to fight in New York.  His opponent was the rugged Argentine known for not listening to his trainers (Gil Clancy for this fight).  Ali had predicted a ninth-round KO and tagged Bonavena on cue, but when he moved in for the finish, Bonavena threw a desperate left hook that shook Ali.  “I was numb all over,” Ali later admitted.  By the 15th round, with both men exhausted, Ali threw a heavy left hook that knocked down Bonavena, then dropped him twice more for the KO.  Afterward, Ali shouted: “I want Joe Frazier,” and one of the great rivalries in sports was born.


December 19, 1970, Louisville travels to Pasadena California to tie Long Beach State in the Pasadena Bowl at 24. 

1971 - Ali's First Loss / WKU Beats UK

March 8, 1971, Ali fights an undefeated Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden.  This was a landmark bout, not only for its promotion as “The Fight of the Century,” but also for the purse of $5 million, which was unheard of at the time.  The boxers were to split it.  Ali called Frazier an Uncle Tom and suggested that any black person who supported Frazier instead of him was a traitor to his race.  Frazier fumed and trained like never before.  Frazier won the early rounds and was relentless throughout, winning a unanimous decision in one of the fiercest fights of all time while handing Ali his first loss.


March 18, 1971, Western Kentucky University beats the University of Kentucky in the NCAA Mideast Regional semi finals 107-83.  This was the most points Kentucky gave up all season.  


July 26, 1971, Ali fights Jimmy Ellis in the Houston Astrodome.  A month before the bout, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft conviction and quashed his five-year prison sentence.  Ellis was a sparring partner who had fought more than 1,000 rounds against Ali.  He even had Dundee in his corner with Ali’s blessing.  But Ali stung Ellis with a straight right in the fourth round and treated the rest of the fight as if it were a sparring session, and the referee stopped the fight in the 12th round after Ali threw another hard right, sending Ellis into the ropes.


November 17, 1971, Ali fights Buster Mathis in the Houston Astrodome.  Mathis came in at 256 pounds and was overweight, while Ali was the heaviest he’d ever been.  It has been said that Ali took it easy on Mathis, hardly training for the fight, which went the distance.  Ali was criticized by some for not finishing Mathis.  But he said he would not hurt a man just for the benefit of the writers.  “I gotta sleep at night,” Ali said.


December 26, 1971, Ali fights Juergen Blin in the Hallenstadion Arena in Zurich.  Blin was a former butcher from Hamburg.  He might have been able to cut meat, but he couldn’t cut it in the ring with Ali, who clinched and stuck to the ropes until the seventh round, when he dropped Blin.  The German got up, but his corner threw in the towel.

1972 - Ali's 36th - 41st Professional Fights / Rupp's Final Game / Colonels in Freedom Hall

March 18, 1972, Adolph Rupp coaches his last game at UK, a 73-54 loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.


April 1, 1972, Ali fights Mac Foster in Tokyo.  This was the first major prizefight held in Asia.  Foster, like Ellis, was a former Ali sparring partner.   Ali weighed in at 226, 1 pound under his heaviest to date.  Ali won the 15-rounder but in disappointing fashion.  Many doubted he would find the form needed to regain the title.


May 1, 1972, Ali fights George Chuvalo at Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver in British Columbia.  In his second fight against the Canadian, Ali hit Chuvalo at will, but the bout still went 12 rounds.  Ali was loathe to hurt fighters that he could beat easily.  So it was with Chuvalo.


June 27, 1972, Ali fights Jerry Quarry again, this time in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Ali had little trouble in his second go-around with Quarry.  By the fifth round he was entertaining the crowd, telling the ringside media, “This is an easy way to make a living.”  In Round 6, Ali decided to try to close him out, but Quarry remained on his feet.  The fight ended early in the seventh round after Ali, seeing that Quarry had nothing left, asked the referee to stop the fight.


July 19, 1972, Ali fights Alvin “Blue” Lewis in Dublin.  Ali got a guaranteed $200,000 to fight Lewis, an ex-convict from Detroit.  He gave Ali trouble early, but Ali knocked down Lewis in the middle rounds.  Ali ended it in the 11th after telling Dundee he desperately had to urinate.  But after the fight, it took 25 minutes before Ali could get to a bathroom.


September 20, 1972, Muhammad Ali’s 40th fight was against Floyd Patterson in Madison Square Garden.  The rematch drew 17,000 and Patterson, who had lost to Ellis during Ali’s exile, looked better early on than he had in years.  But Ali opened a cut on Patterson’s eyelid, and the fight was stopped in the seventh round despite Patterson’s protests.


October 1, 1972, the Milwaukee Bucks played the Kentucky Colonels in Freedom Hall.  Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar each scored 20 points as the Bucks beat the Colonels 131–100.


November 21, 1972, Ali fights Bob Foster at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel, in Stateline, Nevada.  Ali was more than 40 pounds heavier than his opponent, who was really a light heavyweight.  This fight took place in a nightclub where fans sat around dinner tables.  Ali toyed with Foster until the fifth round, the one in which he had predicted victory.  Foster survived four knockdowns and opened up the first cut on Ali in the ring.  But Ali knocked down Foster two more times before getting an eighth-round stoppage.



December 2, 1972, Joe B. Hall coaches his first regular season game as Kentucky’s basketball head coach.  The 13th ranked Cats beat Michigan State 75-66.  Jim Andrews was leading scorer for Kentucky.

1973 - Ali Loses His 2nd Fight / Shawnee 81 vs. Male 68

February 14, 1973, Ali fights Joe Bugner in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Bugner, the British champion, was big, strong and a skilled technician in the ring.  He and Ali fought 12 slow rounds, and Ali never was able to put him away before winning a unanimous decision.  The flashiest thing in the ring that night was Ali’s robe, which was given to him by Elvis Presley.


March 17, 1973, Shawnee beat Male 81-68 to win the 56th Kentucky High School Basket Tournament in front of 124,954 in Louisville’s Freedom Hall.  One of the story lines was the lack of support from Shawnee’s administrators.


March 31, 1973, Ali fights Ken Norton in the San Diego Sports Arena.  Norton came in largely unknown, having earned $300 in his previous fight, but he was about to change history.  The former Joe Frazier sparring partner was trained by Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch.  Norton nailed Ali with a straight right in the second round and broke his jaw.  Dundee asked Ali to stop, but he fought for another 10 rounds, losing on a split decision.  Immediately after the fight, Ali had surgery on his jaw.  The doctor who wired it said, “I can’t fathom how he could go the whole fight like that.”


September 10, 1973, Ali fights Ken Norton for the second time at The Forum in Inglewood, CA.  The fight was promoted as “The Revenge: Battle of Broken Jaw.”  Ali said of Norton: “I took a nobody and created a monster.  Now I have to punish him bad.”  Ali, who never lost a rematch to someone who had beaten him, was able to overcome Norton’s awkward style and win the 12th and final round to take the decision.


September 15, 1973, the first football game was played in Commonwealth Stadium with a brand new head coach Fran Curci.  The Wildcats defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 31-26.  Fran Curci coached future NFL players such as Sonny Collins, Warren Bryant and Doug Kotar during the 1973 season.


October 20, 1973 Ali fights Rudi Lubbers at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Ali, looking ahead to a rematch with Frazier, easily dispatched the Dutchman in 12 rounds.  A crowd of 35,000 watched the bout, and 10,000 showed up at an exhibition Ali gave in the country.

1975 - Thrilla in Manilla

March 24, 1975, Ali fights Chuck Wepner in Richfield Coliseum in Ohio.  Wepner was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder,” and the New Jersey native’s full-time job was liquor salesman.  After Wepner stepped on Ali’s foot and knocked him down with a blow to the chest in the ninth round, Ali came back and opened cuts over Wepner’s eyes and broke his nose.  With 19 seconds left in the fight, Ali knocked down Wepner for the first time in his career, and the fight was stopped.  Actor Sylvester Stallone, watching on closed-circuit TV, was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner’s challenge.


May 16, 1975, Ali fights Ron Lyle in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Lyle was a powerful opponent who had learned to box in prison.  Ali fell behind early but finished strongly, nailing Lyle with a straight right in the 11th round, dazing the big challenger.  Ali then punished Lyle until the referee stopped the fight.


June 30, 1975, Ali fights Joe Bugner at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  A $2 million purse lured Ali to only his second fight in a Muslim country.  The rematch with Bugner didn’t generate much hype, so Ali was persuaded to say this might be his last fight to drum up interest.  Ali danced around the ring most of the fight, throwing combinations every so often, and won the 15-round decision with ease.


On October 1, 1975, the second rematch with Frazier was called the “Thrilla in Manila.”  Part of the pre-fight hype included Ali calling Frazier a gorilla.  Ali won when Frazier is unable to come out for the 15th and final round.  The temperature approached 100 degrees and Ali describes the fight as the closest he had come to death.

1976 - Ali's 52nd - 55th Professional Fights / Rupp Arena Grand Opening / UK Bowls Again

February 20, 1976, Ali fights Jean-Pierre Coopman at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Ali’s best friend, Howard Bingham, said this about Coopman, a Belgian: “By all accounts he was a very nice man.  He just couldn’t fight.”  At the news conference to announce the fight, Coopman was so pleased to meet his hero he kept trying to kiss him.  “Get this guy away from me,” Ali said.  Coopman’s American manager, George Kanter, trying to sell the fight, found a voodoo witch doctor whom he claimed would help Coopman win.  Coopman believed in witches and was happy to be put into a deep hole and have water poured over him.  He drank champagne in his locker room before the fight.  Ali toyed with him until the fifth round, then dropped him.


March 8, 1976, Jack Givens keyed a late rally as the Wildcats outlasted the Bulldogs with an exciting overtime win for the last game played at Memorial Coliseum.


April 30, 1976, Ali fights Jimmy Young at Capital Centre in Landover, MD.  Ali was the heaviest he’d ever been and produced what many thought was the worst performance of his career, but Young only wanted to survive.  The fight went 15 rounds, and Ali won by unanimous decision.


May 24, 1976, Ali fights Richard Dunn at the Olympic Hall in Munich, West Germany.  Ali’s skills were waning, and Dunn fought hard.  But Ali knocked him down five times in five rounds before the fight was called.  Dunn was the last fighter Ali would knock down.  After the fight, Ali donated his gloves to a British boxer who had lost his eye.  Inside the gloves it was written: “Ali wins” in “round one” and “round five” in the other.


September 28, 1976, Muhammad Ali earned $6 million to fight Ken Norton for the third time in Yankee Stadium.  Ali knew it would be difficult, and it was.  Norton was well ahead after seven rounds, but Ali fought back and pulled even by the 14th round.  However, Norton’s corner thought he was ahead and they told him to stay out of trouble.  Ali won the 15th round and the fight.


October 7-10, 1976, the Grand Opening for Lexington Center/Rupp Arena was held.


November 27, 1976, Rupp Arena was home for the first time to the University of Kentucky basketball team.  Wisconsin rolled into town and got beat 72-64.  Kentucky was ranked #6.  Rick Robey was the high scorer for the Cats with 13, followed by the Goose with 12.  23,266 saw Coach Joe B. Hall get his first win in Rupp, but the snack stands ran out of hot dogs by halftime.  The exhibition game against Marathon Oil, played five days earlier, was the last game in Memorial Coliseum.


December 31, 1976, Kentucky beat North Carolina, 21-0, in its first bowl trip in 24 years to finish 9-3.  UK held UNC to 108 yards of total offense and Rod Stewart scored all three touchdowns for the Cats in the second half.

1979 - KHSAA

March 16, 1979, the Board of Control of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association met at the Hyatt Regency, Lexington.  The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by President Jack Burkich.  All Board members were present.  Commissioner Tom Mills, Assistant Commissioners Louis Stout and Billy V. Wise were present.  Conley Manning was present representing the State Department of Education and Darrell Wells represented the State School Boards Association.  The invocation was given by Glendon Ravenscraft.

1984 - Pee Wee Reese Inducted into HOF

April 14, 1984, Dale Wilson of London, set a Kentucky record by catching a Largemouth Bass that weighed 13 lbs. 10.4 ozs.  He caught it in Wood Creek Lake in Laurel County. 


August 12, 1984, Pee Wee Reese, from Ekron, was inducted in Baseball’s Hall Of Fame.  His primary team was the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing shortstop.  His most significant action on a baseball field may have been before a game.  In 1947, the Dodgers visited Cincinnati, and the fans and opposing players were getting on rookie Jackie Robinson.  Reese calmly walked over to Robinson, put his arm around his teammate’s shoulder, and chatted.  The gesture was a critical moment in both Robinson’s career and for African Americans’ being accepted in baseball and American society.  Earlier, Reese had refused to sign a petition circulating among Dodger teammates concerning Robinson’s participation.  Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson, said, “I thought it was a very supportive gesture, and very instinctive on Pee Wee’s part.  You shouldn’t forget that Pee Wee was the captain, and he led the way.  Pee Wee was more than a friend.  Pee Wee was a good man.”


September 1, 1984, Mississippi Valley State passes for Division I-AA record 536 yards and nine touchdowns in 86-0 win over Kentucky State.  Jerry Rice catches 17 passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns.

1996 - Pitino's "Untouchables" Win #6 / Jim Bunning Inducted into HOF / Valhalla Host PGA Championship

April 1, 1996, Tony Delk tied a championship game record with seven 3-pointers and the Wildcats withstood a late Orangemen rally to win UK’s sixth national title before a capacity crowd of 19,229 in the Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands.  Delk, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, canned seven of 12 3-pointers to lead the Cats with 24 points.  Kentucky strung together 25 consecutive wins, including a 16-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play, midway through the 1995-96 season and rolled to its sixth national championship and the first under head coach Rick Pitino. The dynamic duo of Tony Delk (17.8 ppg) and Antoine Walker (15.2 ppg) led the Wildcats’ team dubbed “The Untouchables” by Pitino.


August 4, 1996, James Paul David Bunning, from Southgate, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Jim Bunning, Bill Foster, Ned Hanlon and Earl Weaver made up the 58th induction class in Hall of Fame history.  Jim Bunning was a tough right-handed sidearm pitcher during his 17-year big league career, but the consistency was what he craved, once stating, “I am most proud of the fact I went through nearly 11 years without missing a start.  They wrote my name down, and I went to the post.” Bunning won 224 games, an eight-time All-Star, one 20-win season, but would win 19 games four times and one perfect game.  Besides throwing no-hitters in the American and National leagues, Bunning was also the second pitcher behind Hall of Famer Cy Young to win 100 games and collect 1,000 strikeouts in both circuits.  When Bunning retired, he was second on the all-time strikeouts list to Walter Johnson with 2,855.


August 31, 1996, Kentucky sets a then-Commonwealth Stadium record for largest attendance (59,384) as the Wildcats were defeated by the Louisville Cardinals 38-14.

1999 - UK Loses 2 Bowl Games / World Record Catfish

January 1, 1999, Kentucky and Tim Couch travel to Tampa for the Out Back Bowl.  The Wildcats’ most-recent New Year’s Day Bowl didn’t go as well as their first two in the ‘50s; UK led 14-3 after one quarter of play but ultimately fell 26-14 to Penn State, and finished 7-5 under Coach Hal Mumme.  


August 28, 1999, Bruce W. Midkiff from Owensboro caught a world record 104 lbs.  Blue Catfish in the Ohio River near Cannelton Dam Tailwaters.   This beat the previous state record, set the same day below the same dam.  He caught it on a live skipjack.  The day he caught the record fish, he took it to the Game Warden station in McLean Co. to get it officially weighed.  They told him to put on hats and shirts with tackle manufactures on it and they would pay him for the advertising rights and might display the fish in tanks at different stores.  He declined all offers and released the fish at the Owensboro boat ramp.


September 4, 1999, Kentucky opened up their newly renovated and expanded Commonwealth Stadium, with a then-record crowd of 70,692.  Kentucky defeated Louisville 56-28.  Quarterback Dusty Bonner tied a school record with 74 offensive plays and passed for 446 yards in his first career start.


December 29, 1999, UK makes their first appearance in Nashville’s Music City Bowl.  The Cats lost All-America tight end James Whalen to a dislocated elbow in the first quarter and eventually the game, 20-13, to Syracuse.  UK was 6-6 overall under Hal Mumme. 


December 30, 1999, Louisville looses to Boise State 34-31 in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise ID. 

2009 - Tyson Gay / UK Splits Bowl Games / Kenny Wins Last PGA Event #13&14

January 2, 2009, Kentucky beats East Carolina in the 50th Liberty Bowl in Memphis 25-19 for Coach Brooks.  The win lifted Kentucky’s record to 7-6 and gave it bowl wins in three consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.


March 17, 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats returned to Memorial Coliseum to play in the first round of the N.I.T.  Coach Gillispie led the Cats to victory over UNLV 70-60.  The last time Kentucky played in Memorial was in 1976.  Gillispie’s one game in Memorial put him in the elite company to have coached the Cats in the Coliseum; Rupp and Hall being the others.  It was Gillispie’s last game coached in Kentucky.  The team won one more N.I.T. game and lost in the quarterfinals.


September 19, 2009, Rich Brooks beat Steve Kragthorpe’s Cardinals in the 22nd Governor’s Cup 31-27.  This was the third year in a row Brooks beat Kragthorpe.  Kentucky was impressive on special teams with 254 kickoff return yards (second-most in school history), capped off by Derrick Locke’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.  It would be the last year both head coaches would coach in the state of Kentucky.


September 20, 2009, Lexingtonian Tyson Gay, at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, ran the second-fastest men’s 100 m on record, winning in 9.69 seconds, matching Usain Bolt’s winning time at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.  The current men’s world record is 9.58 seconds, set by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in 2009.  Tyson is wearing black in the middle of the track.


December 21, 2009, in Rupp Arena, the Kentucky men’s basketball team became the first college basketball program to win 2000 games.  They beat the Drexel Dragons 88-44.  This was John Calipari’s first season.


December 27, 2009, Clemson defeated UK, 21-13, in Rich Brooks’ final game as head coach of the Wildcats back in the Music City Bowl.  Kentucky finished 7-6 for the year. 

2021 - Kentucky Ends Season With Citrus Bowl, W 20–17 vs. Iowa