We asked, you answered. here are some of the memories you, the readers, shared with us when we asked for volunteers: 

“I was present at the Muhammad Ali fight. I did not see the knockout punch. However, on the next day, which was a Sunday, my family went to Holiday Inn in Auburn as we did many times to rent out a room at the motel, so our kids could use the pool. My son (Steve) was five years old at the time. We met Muhammad while sitting at a table on the lawn and a nice conversation was had. During our meeting, a newsreel company came. They went on camera, and his personality changed completely. Once the interview was over he became a very nice, soft-spoken gentleman. His wife was on the second floor of the motel, and when she appeared on the balcony he ordered her back into the room. We met Stepin Fetchit, and he went to his black Cadillac and took out a picture of the fighter, and Ali autographed it for us. It cost $2. My son, who lives in Pittsburgh, has the photograph. Heasked Ali if he could beat any one in the whole world, and when Ali answered in the affirmative, Steve said, “Even Mighty Mouse?”

— Stuart Cohen

“I was attending school at North Dakota State University, and I went to Fargo with some of my fraternity brothers to watch the fight in an amphitheater on a big screen. We had bleacher seats, maybe 10 rows back, so a good view of the screen. I had this coat, dropped it and went to pick it up. When I looked up again, the fight was over. People talked about whether it was a legitimate knockout or not, but if you look at clips of Ali at his best, he could throw a punch like that in less than a second.”

— Chuck Primozich

“My husband was in a hurry, traveling home on Route 202 when he was stopped for speeding, The officer asked him if he thought he could slow down a bit, as there was a lot of traffic in town, and let him go. Hubby said yes and thank you and continued on home to our apartment on Pine Street in Lewiston. Thinking it better to walk, he went to a small mom and pop store and bought a Giant Imperial quart of beer to enjoy while listening to the fight. Upon arriving home, he turned on the radio, sat down at the kitchen table, and before he finished filling the glass the fight was over.”

— Lois Lefebvre

“My grandfather, Edward “Ted” MacDonald, a lobsterman from Vinalhaven, took a ride on the ferry from Vinalhaven to Rockland and then drove to Lewiston to visit his daughter, Edith, and son-in-law, Kenneth Jordan, with a surprise that he had tickets to the Ali-Liston fight. My grandfather liked to watch boxing, but not as much as he enjoyed watching the Red Sox. My dad (Kenneth) at the time taught sheet metal and welding at Lewiston High School and would later become the Director of the Lewiston Regional Vocational Center, retiring in 1990. My grandfather, dad and I went out to the Poland Spring House to see Liston train before the fight. I was only 7. I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want to get in a ring with him. So the night of the fight, just about the time of the introductions of Ali and Liston, my dad saw a good friend, Sgt. Jerry LaRoche of the Lewiston Police Department. He had a brief conversation with him and introduced him to my grandfather. The crowd was now standing. The fight was over. My grandfather and dad had missed the entire fight.”

— Jeffrey Jordan

“May of 1965 was my 12th birthday. My father, Eddie, was the bar manager at the Poland Spring Inn, where Sonny Liston had been staying prior to the fight. A couple days before the fight, my dad brought me a fight program with a bunch of autographs from professional boxers who were hanging around at the Liston camp. “Jersey” Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Emile Griffith were some that I remember. I got Liston’s autograph, too. I later lost that program, or it got stolen. Anyway, the night of the fight I was home, already in my PJs, and my dad called and asked if I wanted to go to the fight. Twenty minutes later, I jumped in the car with Dad and two of his buddies. Got handed a ticket, ringside seat, face value $100. The rest is kind of a blur. The seats were about nine or 10 rows back. The building was thick with smoke, and I was pumped. Even at 12 years old, I noticed a rather crappy National Anthem. The fight started, then it ended, and I didn’t see much of anything. I do remember, however, that on the ride home, I realized that in my excitement getting dressed, I had put my corduroys on over my pajamas.”

— John Lenhert

“I have my dad’s ticket stub from the fight. He was walking with food up to his seat when the knockout happened. He saw next to nothing of the fight. I was still in Massachusetts at the time. My dad had taken a job in Lewiston-Auburn in the spring of 1965.”

— Brian Morgan

“I was at the Holiday Inn, now the Fireside Inn in Auburn, when Ali was on the top balcony and writing his relatively new name on slips of paper and tossing them over the railing. I got one and still have it today. He had a great personality, and wow, could he throw punches.”

— Paul Boucher

“I was a senior at Bates in 1965.The fight fell on my birthday and also in the middle of final exams. My roommate and I decided that we’d take a break from studying, listen to the fight, and celebrate my birthday. We had no more than turned around when the fight was over! The party came to an abrupt end. The next evening my roomate hired a taxi to take us to the motel out by the Auburn turnpike exit for a birthday dinner. We had just been seated when Ali, standing bigger than most men I’d ever seen, came into the dining room followed by his retinue.”

— Prudence Grant

“The event was shortly before my 21st birthday. My Dad, our neighbors, my sister and I were standing on the hill across from the arena, listening to Howard Cosell on our portable radios. We were proud of our arena and were upset when Mr. Cosell referred to it as ‘an oversized quonset hut.’ There were many people outside because we were hoping to catch a glimpse of all the celebrities rumored to attend. Word passed through the crowd that the governor and his motorcade had just passed through the turnpike exit in Lewiston. Immediately after, Howard Cosell announced the knockout punch and the end of the fight. In the month preceeding the fight, it was so cool to see the Cassius Clay bus drive by my workplace on Minot Avenue on a daily basis.”

— Claudette Theriault

“My mom was sitting ringside and she was six months pregnant with me. I had the real obstructed view of the fight! My dad represented the arena and signed the contracts so the fight would happen.”

— Bob Rocheleau

“My grandfather was the Androscoggin County sheriff. He was there. I have a picture of Liston sitting at my granddad’s desk in my basement.”

— Josh Breau

“I was working at the Poland Spring Hotel when Sonny Liston was training there. It was an interesting time. I think I was the only staff member who got her tips after the fight. Everyone associated with him disappeared after the fight except his trainer. I ran into him and he gave me $100.”

— Sheila Blanchette

“I was not present at the Ali-Liston fight. However, in a sense I was part of the history. On the night of the fight, I was hired by the general manager of the then-Holiday Inn, Mrs. Dietrich, to entertain with my three-piece band. This is where Ali was staying. The two other people in my group were Paul Wright on guitar, Gary Searles on drums and myself as front man, vocalist and bass player. We were setting up for the evening to entertain when Mrs. Dietrich came in to tell us to hurry and set up. “The fight is over,” she said. “They are heading back to the hotel.” When they arrived, we were ready and played a couple of songs but it was so noisy, and with not enough room for all the dignitaries and Ali’s entourage we were told to wrap it up. I was impressed with the fact that Muhammad Ali was very accessible, sitting across the room accompanied by his wife and his brother. I walked over to them with a paper napkin and asked for his autograph, which he pleasantly signed, as well as his wife. His brother then asked if I wanted his autograph as well. I said “yes.” Who was I to argue with a man of his size? And do I still have the paper napkin that could be valuable today? NO!”

— Bob Mathieu

“I was attending college in Portland at the time. I won a pool at Cooper’s Restaurant, because I was the only person who had Ali winning by knockout in the first round. I remember all the hype and going to watch them train … I had great seats for the fight, right at the (hockey) blue line. I saw a punch. I did not think it was enough to put Liston down. Maybe it caught him off balance. I’ve read his life story. I know he was not opposed to doing things for money. For a guy in his early 20s, it ws a great experience.”

— John O’Malley

“I remember going to Sonny Liston’s training camp with my father. This guy would throw a medicine ball that weighed 25 to 30 pounds, right at Liston’s stomach. He would catch it with both hands and roll it back. He was such a mean-looking guy, no personality. I never thought Ali could beat him. Did he really knock him out? God only knows. We can’t prove it. We can’t disprove it. It’s still the mystery punch.”

— Paul Labbe


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