Next to the great one himself, I believe it’s safe to say that no one had a more vital role in the success of Ali’s ring career than trainer Angelo Dundee. After winning his pro debut, Ali signed on to be managed by a group of Louisville businessmen. They dispatched him off to Miami Beach to be trained by Dundee at the Fifth Street Gym. If not for Dundee’s composure and quick thinking on two significant occasions early on, Ali may have never been heavyweight champion of the world. The first occurred during his bout against Henry Cooper in London. While easily outpointing Cooper, the young fighter was caught flush by a looping left hook and went down hard. He managed to beat the count but Dundee could tell he was still out. He knew the one minute rest period would not be sufficient recovery time. Seeing a loose thread on the thumb of one glove, he tugged on it to expose the padding. He called the referee over and pointed to the damaged mitt. The referee was forced to send for a replacement which bought Ali ample time to recover. By the time the next round got started, he was fully recovered and proceeded to make quick work of finishing off Cooper. If Ali had lost to Cooper, his chance for a title shot would have vanished. Instead, the win led to the fight against champion Sonny Liston in which the other opportunity for Dundee to come to the rescue took place. Ali came out dancing circles around Liston for the first few rounds. His movement had the wild-swinging champ missing everything. His piston-like jab and quick combinations left Liston swollen and cut up. Whether it was the cut medicine on Sonny’s face or the liniment on his aching limbs, something found its way into Ali’s eyes. Ali was temporarily blinded and suffered severe stinging in both eyes. Dundee’s attempt to clear the eyes with water and a sponge only made it worse. The panic-stricken young fighter demanded Dundee cut off the gloves and stop the fight. Dundee knew Liston himself was on the verge of being beaten. He also knew if Ali quit, Liston wouldn’t give him another shot. So Dundee pushed Ali off the stool and told him to just move around until his eyes cleared. By the end of the round they had, and by the end of the next round Liston had quit on his stool. Seeing now how long it took him to get another title shot after losing to Frazier, it’s easy to speculate on the potential detriment to Ali’s career either loss would have had. Given his irritatingly brash braggadocio and his controversial religious and political views, he may have been frozen out of any further title contention consideration. But thanks to the calm and quick thinking Angelo Dundee, potential disaster was avoided, and the rest is history.