Feature | Jun 04 2016

What it was like to fight Muhammad Ali

Brian London told Matt Christie about his experience facing The Greatest, Muhammad Ali
muhammad ali
Action Images

IF ever a man looked like a fighter it was Brian London.

His crooked nose – smeared all over his face like a knob of melting butter – proved he was no stranger to a solid whack, while his sloping shoulders and heavy hands were always ready for retaliation. The amateur star, crowned the British Empire champion in 1954 and the winner of the ABA heavyweight title a year later, had mixed with some of the best big men in the world as a professional. But both London and his reputation, furnished in a golden heavyweight era, took a pummelling when he stepped into the ring to challenge Muhammad Ali for the world title.

On that August 6 night in 1966, at Earls Court in London, the Blackpool star went into the ring feeling something he had never felt before in all his years as a fighter. He knew that he could not win.