Muhammad Ali v Henry Cooper world title fight 21 May 1966

Highbury hosted one of the most important fights ever held in Britain on May 21, 1966 as Henry Cooper challenged Muhammad Ali for the World Heavyweight title.

A crowd of 46,000 — including Hollywood stars Lee Marvin and George Raft - saw the British champion put up a brave battle before being stopped in the sixth round due to a cut over his left eye.

Charlie George, than an apprentice, helped build the ring for the event and, in Arsenal Miscellany, Ken Friar said: “The logistics of transforming the ground into a venue suitable for a boxing match were amazing. The whole pitch was renovated and reseeded before it was boarded over.”

This fight is not to be confused with the 1964 fight between the two men when Cooper felled Ali, not yet a world champion, in the fourth round. That fight was held at Wembley and the Englishman was stopped on cuts in the fifth. 

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Jul 2007