Minnesotans old enough to remember when boxing was popular, will remember Ken Norton as the man who beat Scott LeDoux, the "Fighting Frenchman", in the last great fight at Met Center. Those from the Little Falls/Bowlus area will also remember him as the person who ended Duane Bobick's quest to become the next "White Hope", in 1 minute 48 seconds of the first round.
For the rest of the world he is a bit more than a footnote in boxing history, but short of being universally considered a great fighter. He held the WBC version of the Heavyweight Title, for one fight, and the NABF version for two. He is probably best known as the man who broke Muhammed Ali's jaw in the first round of a twelve round fight, and then barely squeaked out a decision.
Norton had skill, he had a punch, and he had heart. But he had one fatal flaw, he couldn't back up. Dubbed the "Mummy" by Ali, he fought like he had one foot in a bucket, unable to do anything but move forward, mostly in a straight line. He had no capacity to change his fight plan.
Ali, who came back to beat Norton twice, is recognized as one of, if not the, greatest of all time, largely because he had the ability to go in with a plan, but reassess and adapt as a fight wore on. Just ask George Forman.
I always considered George W. Bush the Ken Norton of politics. Once he made a decision, he was going to stick with it through thick and thin. Despite good intentions, his inability to reassess and adapt was probably at the root of why he left office with such a low approval rating. Think Iraq.
Now we have a pugilistic governor who just took one on the jaw. I am speaking of the Supreme Court decision to overturn his unilateral budgeting gaff of last year. Early indications are that hasn't changed his game plan. Pawlenty and his supporters continue with the ridiculous rhetoric of "activist judges" in spite of the fact that each of those voting in the majority was appointed by a Republican governor, with the final decision written by the Chief Justice Pawlenty himself appointed. The "my way or the highway" attitude seems to still be in place, as evidenced by his remarks yesterday.
There is a school of thought that places great importance on developing a plan and sticking to it, regardless of the consequences. In that same school, there is even a premium placed on "doubling down", upping the ante when dealt a setback. On the other hand, there are those who have defined insanity as doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different outcomes. Whether Pawlenty proves to be a Norton or an Ali remains to be seen. The quality of life in our State, and Pawlenty's legacy, may well hang in the balance.