BDN’s Bud Leavitt was ringside for the Ali-Liston fight in Lewiston

The Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)-Sonny Liston fight was the lead story in the BDN on May 26, 1965.

The Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)-Sonny Liston fight was the lead story in the BDN on May 26, 1965.

The world “legend” is overused these days in the world of sports, but it accurately describes the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt Jr., a former Bangor Daily News executive sports editor and outdoors columnist.

When Bud entered a room, he took it over with his resonating voice, charisma, and a unique knack of being able to draw everyone into a conversation. He was a prolific writer who wrote more than 13,000 columns for the BDN before his death in 1994 at age 76.

Generations of readers remember Bud for not only for his writing, but his outdoors TV shows on WABI of Bangor and Maine Public Broadcasting.

Some, however, may not recall that Bud penned many stories on several other sports, including the Boston Red Sox and the famous Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston heavyweight boxing match that occurred on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston. BDN newsroom lore in the years following the fight recalls Bud saying that he just sat down to cover the fight, looked up and then it was over.

That’s because the fight lasted only 1 minute, 46 seconds and ended when Ali decked Liston with what has been called the “Phantom Punch,” an overhand right that many observers doubted could have knocked out Liston.

That fight’s 50-year anniversary is the subject of a great package of stories, photos and videos that the Lewiston Sun Journal has posted and published.

In his story, Bud showed his disdain for Liston: “… Liston, the convicted copbeater, beat no one Tuesday night. He took his licks, light and easy, went down under [Ali’s] taps. …”

The Sun Journal explores the history of this “Phantom Punch” in vivid detail. It’s worth it to take some time out of your busy day to check out its account of one of the biggest stories in pro boxing history.

Joe McLaughlin

About Joe McLaughlin

McLaughlin (right) is a Stearns High School and University of Maine graduate who worked for three years at the Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou as a reporter and editor. He has worked on the BDN sports desk for 30 years, the last 18 as sports editor. McLaughlin and his wife, Kathy Schwigan, live in Brewer and have three adult children: Ryan, Matthew and Tess.