FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP NORTON DIES: Former heavyweight champion Ken Norton, who beat Muhammad Ali and later lost a controversial decision to him in Yankee Stadium, died Wednesday at a local care facility, his son said. He was 70.
Ken Norton Jr., a coach with the Seattle Seahawks, confirmed the death to The Associated Press before handing the phone to his wife, too distraught to talk.
Norton had been in poor health for the last several years after suffering a series of strokes, a friend of the fighter said.
"He's been fighting the battle for two years," said Gene Kilroy, Ali's former business manager. "I'm sure he's in heaven now with all the great fighters. I'd like to hear that conversation."
Norton broke Ali's jaw in their first bout, beating him by split decision in 1973 in a non-title fight in San Diego. They fought six months later, and Ali won a split decision.
They met for a third time on Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title.
Norton would come back the next year to win a heavyweight title eliminator and was declared champion by the World Boxing Council. But on June 9, 1978, he lost a bruising 15-round fight to Larry Holmes in what many regard as one of boxing's epic heavyweight bouts and would never be champion again.
Norton finished with a record of 42-7-1 and 33 knockouts. He would later embark on an acting career, appearing in several movies, and was a commentator at fights.
HALTON, THORNBURG LEAD BREWERS PAST CUBS: Sean Halton hit his first career grand slam, Tyler Thornburg allowed just two singles over six innings, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cubs 7-0 on Wednesday night.
Thornburg (3-1) struck out four and walked two as he reached six innings for the sixth straight start since being recalled from Triple A Nashville on June 29. He has allowed five earned runs in 36 innings as a starter and has also made 11 relief appearances for the Brewers this season. At Nashville, he was 0-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts.
Jimmy Nelson pitched two innings, and Michael Blazek got the last three outs to preserve the four-hit shutout.
Halton's homer capped a five-run first inning off Chris Rusin (2-5).
HESTER RETURNS TO WREAKING HAVOC FOR BEARS: Devin Hester appears to be back to his havoc-wreaking ways for the Bears.
Ineffective a year ago, the three-time Pro Bowl pick returned five kickoffs for a team-record 249 yards in last week's win over Minnesota. He'll try to keep it up against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
It's been more than just a few games since Hester broke off the sort of returns that he kept delivering against Minnesota, and many were wondering if at age 30 he could recapture the touch that made him one of the best ever. Hester says he's been in situations where he's had big games and then gone a few without a big return.
LUCK, HARBAUGH SHARE EQUAL ADMIRATION, RESPECT: Andrew Luck still has all that humble charm Jim Harbaugh loves about him.
No, Luck has not yet purchased himself a smartphone because his simple old flip model continues to serve him well — making and receiving calls, sending and receiving text messages. No, he doesn't accept flashy endorsement deals, not until he earns the right with his performance on the field for the Colts.
Luck played quite a role in landing Harbaugh his first NFL coaching job. Harbaugh helped pave the path to the quarterback becoming the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft out of Stanford.
They will be reunited as opponents Sunday, finding themselves in the strange position of game-planning against each other in Week 3 while trying to bounce back from tough losses.
COLTS' ALLEN OUT FOR THE YEAR: Colts tight end Dwayne Allen will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury.
He caught a touchdown pass in the season-opening win against Oakland but was inactive for last Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Colts had hoped he would heal with rest, but doctors said surgery would be required.
NFL PUNT, PASS AND KICK SATURDAY IN HOBART: Hobart Brickie football will host a NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Brickyard. Children aged 6 to 15 are eligible. There is no cost for the event. For details, go to www.nflppk.com.