Ali in April: When Ali took Heavyweight Boxing to Japan

This month we examine April where Ali went to Japan, KO’d a KO artist and had too much ice cream and pie prior to a defense of the title.

April 15th, 2021

Each month we look at Muhammad Ali’s fights in that particular month. This time we examine April where Ali went to Japan, KO’d a KO artist and had too much ice cream and pie prior to a defense of the title.


1 April 1972 – Mac Foster, Nippon Budokan, Japan

Result: Ali UD

The Nippon Budokan, a magnificent martial arts hall built for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, was the perfect setting to host a fight involving The Greatest.

The national championships of the different branches of the martial arts such as judo, kendo, karate, aikido are held at Budokan, and on April 1 1972, Ali came by to showcase his skills of the noble art in front of 15,000 fans.

This was the first fight ever held in Asia between two top-ten ranked heavyweights, Ali #1, Foster #9.

Ali predicted a 5th round knockout (and even entered the ring holding a ring card for round five), but Foster forced the fight to a decision, easily won wide by Ali in 15 rounds.

The (in)famous Muhammad Ali vs. pro-wrestler Antonio Inoki, a hybrid rules fight aka ‘The War of the Worlds’ was also held at Budokan in 1976.


19 April 1961 – LaMar Clark, Freedom Hall, Louisville

Result: Clay KO2

On paper, this was a tough match-up for Ali in his 6th pro fight.

Clark, a former chicken farmer from Utah, was famous for having won 44 consecutive fights by KO. He was known as ‘The Cedar City Bomber’  and ‘The King of the Knockouts’.

However, Clay broke Clark’s nose and won their all-action bout through a knockout in the second round following which Clark retired from boxing at the age of 27.

A devastating left hook, right straight combo ended the entertaining two-round war.

On a curious note, Clark also had a ‘boxer vs wrestler’ fight when he met pro-wrestler Eric ‘The Great’ Forsland in 1958 and won …by KO.


23 April 1962 – George Logan, Sports Arena, Los Angeles

Result: Clay TKO4

Clay predicted a fourth-round knockout, he easily battered Logan but was unable to put him down. Logan sustained a serious eye injury and referee Lee Grossman halted the bout in the fourth as Logan’s corner threw in the towel.


30 April 1976 – Jimmy Young, Capitol Center, Landover

Result: Ali UD

Ali (34) was the champ in his 6th defense of the title against Young who was young (27) and promising.

Ali weighed in at 230 pounds, the highest for any of his fights up to that point – he would weigh 236.25 pounds in his last fight against Trevor Berbick in 1981.

Many thought, including trainer Angelo Dundee, this was the worst performance of Ali’s career, but Young did not impress either in an even, but uneven 15-round fight that went to controversial scorecards.

“I weigh 230 pounds, just what I weigh when I’m in terrible shape,” said Ali. “I’m 34 and I’m telling you what I did was a miracle, going 15 rounds and beating that young man. I’ve been eating too much pie, too much ice cream. You wouldn’t believe the things I do in training.”

Young was a respected fighter, he fought many significant fighters of his era, including outpointing George Foreman, Ron Lyle twice, and losing only by a split decision to then-number one contender Ken Norton in a title eliminator in 1977.