Today's historic anniversary reminds us of a time in American sports history when boxing was bigger than life.
On March 26th, 1974, George Foreman, the heavyweight champ, defended his title in Caracas, Venezuela against challenger Ken Norton - the 'Black Hercules'. Although he entered the fight a 3-1 underdog, Norton (a man who looked as though he were chiseled from granite) had not only defeated Muhammed Ali in a prior bout, but broken the legend's jaw in the process. As such, he posed a serious threat to Foreman's championship reign.
Foreman, however, was not yet the jovial TV pitchman we've come to know and love, but rather a human battering ram - six foot, three inches of mean. Having just annihilated Joe Frazier and Jose Roman in lopsided, early round knockout fights, Big George would ultimately prove too much for Norton to handle. After a fairly even first round, Foreman pummeled his opponent in the second, sending him to the canvas three times in a convincing display of knockout power.
After the fight, as both men attempted to leave Caracas and return home to the states, the Venezuelan government (who had been able to land the fight only by promising to waive all applicable taxes) pulled a bait-and-switch, demanding the two pugilists fork over a hefty sum of money before allowing them to exit the country. After multiple days of negotiation, the Venezuelan authorities were able extort tens-of-thousands of dollars from the Norton and Foreman camps. Ever after, the event was known as 'The Caracas Caper'.