Androscoggin Bank Colisee is a multi-purpose arena in Lewiston, Maine. It opened in 1958 and the arena has been home to multiple minor league hockey teams like the Lewiston Maineiacs and the Portland Pirates. The Maine Nordiques were the primary tenant in the mid-70's. The Boston Celtics used to play exhibition games at Androscoggin, then known as the Lewiston Civic Center, when Bob Cousy was on the team. Androscoggin Bank Colisee currently is home to the Lewiston/Auburn area Youth Hockey League and holds events from mixed-martial art fighting to trade shows and concerts. But in 1965, then known as the Central Maine Youth Center, Androscoggin was the venue of one of the greatest and most controversial boxing matches in U.S. history. The Muhammad Ali - Sonny Liston rematch fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. This fight took place about 15 months after their first fight in Miami Beach, Florida. The first fight had caused a lot of speculation and many felt the fight ended with several unanswered questions. For example, What had Liston put on his gloves during the fight that caused Ali to feel as if his eyes were on fire? Had Liston not answered the bell for the 7th round on orders from the Mafia? These were only a few questions that made for the rematch between the two one of the most anticipated boxing matches of all time.
During the first fight Ali had not yet changed his name and still went by his birth name of Cassius Clay. Shortly after beating Liston in Miami, Clay had shown his support for the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. This created more attention and made many of the religious and social groups across the country pay special attention to a prize fight that normally would not have interested many of them. The fight would only last a couple of minutes as Liston was knocked down in the 1st round by what some called a phantom punch1. The knockout, the Mafia, the Nation of Islam, and even the referee's flawed attempt to count the 10 second knockdown all made this one of the most controversial boxing matches of all time.
Controversy and speculation grew after the fight, with rumors that Liston took a dive gaining circulation. Some speculated that Liston took a dive because the Nation of Islam had told Liston that they would kill him if he won the rematch. Some rumored that Liston owed the Mafia money and bet on himself to lose so he could pay off the debt. Some even speculated that Liston was worried he would be killed accidentally by people trying to shoot Ali and just wanted to get out of the ring.
The fight launched Ali's career and practically ruined the once invincible Liston. Liston entered the fight as the heavyweight champion and left with many questioning his will or capacity to compete. Ali became arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time and possibly the most recognized sports figure in American history. The Colisee would be a great place to visit and walk around where this historic and controversial boxing match took place.