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Remembering the Raider who fought Muhammad Ali

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

Between them, the Raiders’ Powell brothers caught 479 passes for 8,046 yards and 81 touchdowns and were 0-1 against Muhammad Ali.

Art Powell was responsible for the receptions, yards and touchdowns.

Older brother Charlie fought Ali. It happened January 24, 1963 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Ali — still known as Cassius Clay then — predicted it would take him three rounds to make the former Raiders defensive end wish he were still playing football.

Ali won by KO in the third round.

Five other things to know about the Raiders’ talented Powell brothers:

1. In addition to losing to Ali, Charlie Powell also was stopped in the sixth round by Floyd Patterson in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1964. Powell’s boxing record was 25-11-2, with his biggest win coming over No. 2 rated heavyweight Nino Valdes of Cuba in March 1959.

2. Art Powell was one of the American Football League’s first stars, leading the fledgling league in receiving yards and touchdowns with the New York Titans before joining the Raiders in 1963 and becoming a four-time AFL All-Star.

3. Charlie Powell was once injured while having his picture taken. It happened on the first day of the Raiders’ first training camp in Santa Cruz, California, in 1960 when he pulled a tendon. That was in the days when football players cast exaggerated poses while having their photo taken, such as stretching a leg while stiff-arming an imaginary tackler. So pulled tendons were always a risk.

4. Art Powell began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles as a defensive back. He returned a kick for a 95-yard touchdown against the New York Giants in 1959 but is better remembered for refusing to play in a preseason game against the Washington Redskins in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1960 upon learning the Eagles’ black players would not be allowed to stay at the team hotel.

5. In high school in San Diego, Charlie Powell ran the 100-yard dash in 9.6 seconds, threw the shot 57 feet, 9¼ inches and turned down offers to play football at UCLA and Notre Dame and basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters to sign a baseball contract with Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians. Charlie quit baseball to sign with the San Francisco 49ers and at 19 years old became the youngest player to appear in an NFL game.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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