Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston | Ring Talk with Lou Eisen | Talkin Fight
EPISODE: Episode 1
Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston | Ring Talk with Lou Eisen | Talkin Fight
We’re talking about the controversial second Ali-Liston match of May 25, 1965.
The two fights between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston for boxing’s World Heavyweight Championship were among the most anticipated, watched and controversial fights in the sport’s history.
Discussing the greatest boxing controversies throughout history, Lou Eisen offers his opinions and insights in this fantastic live-streamed series of episodes. Watch live on TalkinFight.com every Sunday at 2pm ET.
#Boxing #TalkinFight #RingTalk
[, Music, ], hi, hi fight fans.
This is ringtone, i’m lou eisen and today we’re going to talk about one of the most controversial fights, i would say, probably the top five most controversial fight in the history of modern boxing going back to 1700.
I would say the most controversial fights to fight between jack dempsey and gene tooney, the rematch in 1927, specifically the seventh round the battle of the long count, but we’ll get to that in another show uh.
This fight is between the newly named muhammad ali, the undisputed.
Actually, at that time he wasn’t the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
The wba in their ultimate stupidity withdrew their recognition of him as champion after he beat liston because he had a rematch scheduled with liston.
So, in order to understand his fight, we have to understand uh the circumstances, a decade in which it happened, and this is the 1960s 1960s were very turbulent violent, seething cauldron of change throughout the united states, which affected the whole world at the beginning of the 1960s.
You have this charismatic, harvard educated, brilliant young lawyer, john f kennedy as president, and he in his inauguration speech.
He says: there’s no limitations on what the mine and the american public can do.
We want to take a man to the moon, return them within the decade.
So the limit there are no limitations anymore in the united states in kennedy’s mind and he gives that that same feeling and he infuses all americans with it everyone’s in a good mood.
Everyone’S, not everyone, but americans are thrilled now that they have someone who’s, young and hip and in the white house and in the know, so in that time span muhammad ali wins the olympic silver or olympic gold medal light heavyweight 1960 in rome.
He first starts training with archie moore agent archimore.
The former undisputed worldwide heavyweight champion doesn’t like moore’s way of training him.
He made muhammad wash flores.
Do the dishes and muhammad said when i grew up.
That was what my mama did.
I’M not doing that.
So he left and the louisville sponsoring group 11 white millionaires who put their money together to as they said, steer him away from mob control, which was very real in professional boxing uh we’re going to set you up we’re going to look after you and we’re going To get you another trainer and the other trainer they got is a man who uh i’m proud to say was my surrogate father and i think the best trainer in the history of boxing, if not all, professional sports and that’s angelo dundee at that time.
In 1960, 61 sonny liston wasn’t yet the world heavyweight champion.
He was the best heavyweight in the world from probably 56 1956 57 on problem with was is that he was a mob, controlled fighter and mob control in professional boxing.
Uh goes back to.
I guess the early 1900s to late 1890s and they treated all fighters horrifically stole their purses fixed a lot of fights, but in particular they treated african-american fighters worse than dirt.
African-American fighters are essentially slaves for the mafia, because very few of any of them ever got any money for their fights.
In fact, uh hall of famer, ike williams, the all-time great world lightweight champion uh, defended his title once for 80 grand and the check he got from blinky palermo was, for, i think, three or four grand, and he said i signed for 80 grand and palermo took A gun out put in his head and said: here’s the deal, take the money or take the bullet, and so he took the money and ended up broke.
This is why i have a big problem with people say: well, boxing was better when the mob controlled it better, for whom certainly not the fighters who ended up broke and indigent, so muhammad ali’s group was the louisville spartan group wanted to make sure this did not Happen to him.
Listen, we don’t know truly.
When he was born.
He said he claimed to have been born in 1932, which would have made him uh 30 32, when he fought uh ali, the first time and 33, and he fought him.
The second time, however, angel dundee’s brother, chris, the hall of fame promoter, had an issue of ring magazine, which i saw that had a poster from the mid 30s.
35 36 featuring 17 year old sailor boy, sunny liston.
So if it was from 1934 and liston was 17, that would mean he was born in 1917, which meant when he first fought ali um.
He would have been 47 years old and 48 years old in the rematch a year later may 25th.
I don’t think he was 47 or 48 years old.
He was certainly a lot older than 32.
When you see photographs of of liston from the uh 1950s.
He does look a lot younger.
I think the circumstances of his sad life and the pressures he was under aged him rapidly liston was the 25th of 26 children born to tobe liston in arkansas and the great uh writer jerry eisenberg of the newark newark star, ledger um.
If you ever get a chance read anything he writes about boxing just a brilliant writer, he said: listen worked in the fields from the age of five to the age of 16 all day every day, seven days a week and when the family mule died.
Listen was about eight or nine father took the reins from the mule, the harness and hitched it up the list and said you the meal now so listen had to pull the plow every day.
Father beat him up every day to such an extent that when his father didn’t beat him up, listen would ask him.
Are you all right dad? Is there something wrong today and listen lived with his with his uh 25 siblings in a one-room shack where they slept on the floor, he had no schooling at all father, even if schooling was available, which it wasn’t because of the color of his skin.
If there was schooling, his father wouldn’t have allowed it because he needed him on the farm.
He was a.
He was a sharecropper, so liston actually saved up money by by collecting and selling chestnuts.
His mother had left years before, for st louis he got a ticket.
Went to st louis and unbelievably asked a couple of people, he first met.
Do you know this person and they knew his mother and he went to see her and his mother said what the hell are you doing here? You know i.
I can’t help you.
So listen fell in with other young kids and started to do gas station robberies.
The thing about liston, of course, was he couldn’t get a job because he had no education and he couldn’t read or write, and when you look at the racism that was endemic to united states, especially in the southern united states, listen has to be one of the Most profound profound excuse me, victims of it listen gets arrested.
He goes to prison in prison.
Liston was a feared man.
Everyone fearless did, including the guards when there were fights between african-american groups and and white groups or or neo-nazi groups.
All listen had to do was show up look at the other person and say this is not going to go down this way and everyone agreed.
Listen was a scary.
Individual started the box in prison.
We don’t know if that’s true or not because of what i said earlier about chris dunlee.
There were rumors that he had a box before and they said he was a boxing prodigy, it’s hard for someone to start off like that.
There’S only one or two examples in the entire 300 year, history of modern boxing, where a guy starts boxing and within a couple weeks, is that good? Because he has natural talent, listen was destroying every other prisoner in prison, including ex-prize fighters who were there so they they called up some professional fighters who came in with some professional trainers.
They were mobbed up in st louis through joe vitale and they uh a lot.
Looked at listening and they couldn’t believe how good he was.
It was like they found the 400 hitter right under their nose, so they helped him along with the priests in prison, get paroled early.
He got out in brawl and he started the box professionally and his uh his uh manager of record with pep barone, who was an acolyte of of uh blinky, palermo and frankie carbo, who ran boxing uh courtesy of the casey family crime family in new york.
Although listing for most of his career was controlled by chicago’s mob uh family, the outfit so liston’s going up through the uh the ranks, but of course he gets back in jail several times.
Even he had various uh infractions with the law.
Apparently, once in philadelphia took 16 cops 16 policemen beating him with batons to subdue him.
Uh angelo dundee told me that sonny liston had extraordinary super human strength.
He said one time listen when he was living in denver with his wife geraldine.
A couple of kids were just throwing a baseball around there’s, seven or eight and the baseball rolled under his car and one of the kids cried.
That’S my favorite baseball and it’s autographed and listen and said: don’t worry, liston lifted up the car with his arms from the front and let the kid crawl in and get the baseball and crawl out.
That’S how strong the man was so liston is moving up.
The ranks uh courtesy of the mob to help him get the fight.
He has one set back.
He fights a guy in uh, the early 50s named marty marshall, who uh liston is laughing at because his skills aren’t that great and while he’s laughing, he hits listening and he beats him doesn’t knock him out, but he breaks his jaw.
Listen has to take six months off where he gets into trouble again ends up in jail by 53, 54 55 he’s starting to get more fights and moving up the ladder, rocky marciano retires.
And what happens is they have the two contender top contenders, floyd patterson and archie moore, who had lost to marciano after knocking him down fight for the title? That was a controversial fight, but patterson stopped more in the fifth round, with a belly shot, so patterson’s the champ by 1950 since 1955 by 56-57.
It’S clearly evident to everyone in the sport and the writers covering the sport that sunny liston is the best heavyweight in the world.
He he should have got a title shot in 57, but custom modeled, the manager and trainer of floyd patterson as well as, of course, mike tyson and jose torres uh prevented that, knowing that his fighter, who had a chance brittles a 50 year old coat of paint, Wouldn’T last more than a couple seconds against listen, so he held him off and listen.
Usually, when you win a world title, you cl clean out the division, to declare your supremacy list and clean out the heavyweight division before you won the world title and there’s nothing.
They could do to prevent it.
There was no one else for patterson to fight.
So in 62, against the wishes of john f kennedy, who told him don’t fight him, listen he’s a mob guy.
He fought, listen, listen and knocked him out in two minutes and four seconds.
You can’t call the fight, because patterson would have had to actually throw a punch back and land which he didn’t they fight a year later, listen knocks him out and same time.
Only four seconds later, two minutes and ten seconds, it’s agreed that no one’s going to beat listen, he’s going to hold the title until the end of time.
So at this time, while this is going on, cassius clay is an amateur boxer and he’s winning the aau light heavyweight title he’s doing well in the late 50s, he makes the olympic team the american olympic team goes to rome.
They call him the mayor of the olympic village, wins the light heavyweight gold medal, and the thing that was incredible about that was.
He was only 18 and he’s fighting against fighters from the iron curtain.
Romania, hungary, soviet union fighters that were in their 30s, were mature man and, for all intents and purposes, were professional fighters, but his speed and footwork was so incredible and his ability to anticipate punches that they couldn’t handle him.
So he wins.
The gold medal comes back, gets to louisville.
Sponsoring group finally ends up with angela dundee as his trainer and he starts to move up the heavyweight ladder as he’s moving up the heavyweight ladder, angela dundee, who was one of, if not the best, at matching fighters correctly.
So that, with each successive fight, their skill level improves as well um as as um as their confidence, so cassius is moving up.
The ladder he’s beating guys.
The first glitch in the road is when he fights a guy named sonny banks who drops him in the fourth round.
Cassius gets up, drops him again.
Drops him in the fourth round ends up winning the fight, then, just before he fights listen, he fights the british fighter henry cooper and in the fourth round cooper caught him with a left hook, ali back that was in close and the clinch backed out with his Head up cooper, bang left hand and ali said he hit me so hard.
He jarred my kin folk in africa, so he drops drops young cats.
He’S clay down.
Clay gets up angelo, helps him to the corner.
As angelo said he’s out, his eyes are open.
He’S talking, but he is unconscious and he’s out in his feet, so they put water on him.
Angela takes ice, cubes rubs him against clays testicles breaks, a cap of pneumonia off smelling salts at clay’s knees, and i said why don’t you do it under the nose and and angela said, if you do it under nose, you’ll you’ll fry the man’s brain.
So he does this and it wakes cassius up at which point angelo says: go out, get rid of him now.
This was the famous glove incident where they said angelo, took a razor blade and cut muhammad’s glove to buy more time.
It’S completely untrue.
When uh, when cassius got into the ring uh there was a slight tear on the wrist of his glove.
He showed it to angelo angela said: don’t mention it to the ref.
We may need this sometime in the fight, and that was really present.
Thinking on angela’s part, so he has everyone gather around.
You know bundini brown, chicky ferreira, who was really angelo’s main influence.
He was a veteran trainer and rahm, and ali muhammad’s brother and angel takes his index fingers and widens the cut a bit.
When i asked henry cooper i said, is it true that it gave him an extra half hour to recover he laughed? He said it gave him an extra 15 to 30 seconds and that’s all clay needed.
It comes out cuts, cooper next round, fight’s over back in the dressing room, jack nyland listens, mob appointed managers says you got your date with death.
We will fight you now you get your chance at the title, and so when they’re fighting for the world heavyweight title in order to get the fight because listen was a mob fighter, clay had to sign a contract.
That stated, he would give him a rematch if he won the fight.
Now, that’s significant because later on, the wba pulled recognition of of muhammad ali after he changed his name because he gave list in a rematch.
It was really a self-serving ridiculous move and it helped to lower the brand of the wba if such a thing was even possible.
So muhammad’s training for the fight he’s ready for the fight, listen, didn’t train at all, because he didn’t think muhammad was going to go more than a round at the most.
He thought this fight will not last out of the 100 sports writers that were there, 97 picked, listen within a round.
One guy picked him within two rounds.
Three people, two americans and one brit, picked cassius clay and the reason they picked him is, they said, listen and it’s.
It was a fact.
He’S only had three fights in the past three years and each fight has gone only one round.
He knocked out the german willie bessman off in one round and then the year later he knocked out patterson and around a year after that he knocked patterson out and around once again and everyone thought you’re not going to beat liston and jerry eisenberg.
As i mentioned mentioned earlier said, the only way you’re going to be listening is to take out the american army and shell them with artillery for seven days, and even that’s not a given um cassette clay was a seven to one underdog.
Those are the best odds.
You can get on most of the ten to one before listen fought him and before liston was champion, he’d fought um, he beaten by decision.
Eddie macon and he’d also beaten, zoro foley and he knocked out cleveland williams, but all three of those fighters had something in common williams: staggered liston in the second round when he came out for the third round midway through the round.
His eyes were burning machine and zoro.
Foley were boxing well against liston and then midway through the fight their eyes started to burn.
Liston’S handlers had put some astringent on his gloves, which list and then put into their eyes some people say it was tiger bomb.
Other people would say it was monsael solution.
Who knows? No one mentioned it except eddie nation who blamed the mafia for it and then died mysteriously mind you.
It was eight years later that he died.
So during his fight excuse me cassie’s clay is beating, listed and he’s beating him with the greatest of ease, he’s using lateral movement, and they noticed one thing: when watching listen, fight, liston would jab, but when he would jab his head would be out of his front Foot which essentially meant he was off balance.
So if you hit him a shot, then he would absorb the whole shot in his head and not be able to defuse the power of the shot through his legs.
And when you watch the fight after clay gets his legs.
Second, third, fourth round he’s countering liston’s jab left, jab, ponder’s, left dab and he’s hammering him with that counter right hand over and over and he’s staggering listening with it, and he opens a mouse big, huge mouse under listen’s left eye in the fourth round.
He pops it open, listen to never been cut before and he’s out boxing listen and he’s beating the hell out of him.
So liston has his corner.
Put the astringent on his gloves burns alley’s eyes.
Allie can’t see he walks around angela quiets him down, tries to wash out the astringent sends him out for the next round he’s using his left arm as a yardstick which is difficult because liston had a longer reach, but still he’s keeping liston off and listen.
Looked at him, someone said, like a kid, looks at a new red bicycle on christmas morning, but this was it listen, couldn’t get him and then you go into the sixth round and now clay’s angry and he’s pot, shouting, listen and he’s talking to him and pounding Him incessantly lumping him up, listen goes to the corner and listen was a bully and he did what all bullies do.
When someone stands up to them, he quit he quit in his corner.
He said that my left arm uh was pulled out of the socket, and that was entirely untrue, because when you look at the fight and the round before he, he threw dozens of left hooks couldn’t land him.
He did have bursitis.
That was said in training camp and both shoulders could have delayed the fight if he wanted to but chose not to so it was the most stunning upset in boxing history.
People couldn’t believe what their eyes had seen.
They thought it was a fix that fight was called to fix, but it makes no sense because listen would not give up the heavyweight title because it defined him, but he did give it up.
He gave it up sitting on his stool, so they have the rematch and basically, what i want to prove to you, i’m going to endeavor to show you in this episode is the fact that the rematch, which was called the fix, was not a fix, and i Can prove to you categorically that it was not a fix.
The rematch was scheduled for boston massachusetts.
At that time, the wba, which was the president, was ed lassman, who was a delhi owner from florida? He was the miami beach boxing, commissioner, didn’t want the rematch to go through.
He said: wba doesn’t allow rematches, but that was garbage.
It was entirely untrue because waba allowed patterson to fight king of mario hansen, three times in a row and liston signed a rematch clause with patterson he had to or he wouldn’t have received the title shot.
So they said, listen’s contract with patterson was the worst lawyers that anyone had seen in the history of the sport.
So the fight they’re training for the fight, it’s going to be in boston, wa, says they’re, going to suspend boston from the wba wba meets at a they have a big convention of old white right-wing bigoted virulent anti-african-american uh members from various boxing commissions throughout the united States and canada and they strip ali of his title, because how dare he become a muslim? What gives this man the right to change his name? Other fighters had done it and they didn’t have a problem with that, but they were white.
They also said they wanted to put liston back in the gutter where he belongs.
Why did listen belong back in the gutter? I mean these were overt racist comments that no one back then took took them to task for liston’s getting in shape and he’s excited now, and the writers who have followed him throughout his whole career said he’s going to win the title back, because i can’t believe The shape that he’s in mentally and physically he’s running 15 20 miles a day.
Thousands of sit-ups thousands of push-ups skipping rope hitting the heavy bag, destroying the sparring partners and he’s ready to fight in boston and a couple days before the fight ali has um suffers.
An er, an inguinal incarcerated, inguinal hernia, he’s sitting in his hotel room, throws up blood, collapses, gets them to the hospital, they do emergency surgery and they said he’s got to take six months off.
In fact, a doctor that did the surgery said.
I don’t want to cut into him because his body’s too perfect and another doctor said i want to borrow muhammad ali’s body for six or for a weekend.
There’S three women.
I want to meet and two guys i want to beat up so his name is now muhammad ali.
In fact, angelo’s son jimmy told me that he’d change his name six months before to muhammad ali, but didn’t announce it until after you won the world heavyweight title.
So the fight is now rescheduled for may 25th.
Lewiston, maine and liston falls apart hard to blame him he’s an older man and it’s hard to keep up that level of fitness and mental focus.
When someone says to you, well, you got to wait another 24 weeks.
How do you do that? Not many fighters could enlist and couldn’t and the week weekend before, when people were watching them train, he thought this guy won’t be.
How is he fighting for the world heavyweight title he’s he can’t get the speed bag going.
He keeps missing on the heavy bag, he’s missing, punches and throwing that falling down he’s missing on the skipping rope.
He can’t get a rhythm going.
The fight goes on now.
People said that he hit him with a phantom punch, not true.
If you watch the tape of the fight the minute, the bell rings, the first thing that happens: listen charges out at ali, throw at list and fought the same way in every fight.
Two shuffle steps forward double jab right hand.
He did that ally slips.
The punches, especially the right hand, hits him with a counter right and and first punch the fight, and he hurts listen, and it was just over a minute and a half later that was the same punch.
He knocked him out with ali.
Is circling listening, listen, looks, disinterested, he’s, uncoordinated, he’s, not cutting the ring off on he’s simply following him around in a straight line.
He just keeps following and following ali around, and that was the plan he’s the older man.
Let’S get him, let’s get him to chase.
Muhammad around the ring listen’s got to constantly reset his stance.
Therefore, he’s got a punch while he’s moving and to do that and be accurate.
It’S very difficult to do listing keeps following him around now the problem.
The reason why they called the fighter fix is six or seven things happen simultaneously, that confused a lot of people and it wasn’t handled well.
As we see ali, is back into a corner.
Listen lunges forward with his head out over his front foot ally.
Does what angelo dundee taught him to do slip slide bang slip to the right about a half inch avoid the jab counter with a right hand, ally hits him with a right hand on the temple.
Listen didn’t see it, which are the kind of punches to get you out of there.
His shoulders shudder and he goes down.
The knockdown was legitimate.
One thing that caused all this hullabaloo about a fix was listen, gets up on his knee and then falls back down again.
That was an oscar river performance.
Maybe his blood pressure was off and he got a head rush and he fell down.
I don’t think so.
What happened all at the same time was ally, hits listing with the right hand.
What’S supposed to happen, the referee who had not refereed before jersey, joe walcott former heavyweight champ, does not tell ali to go to the farthest neutral corner he should have.
Ali is running around the ring like a lunatic with a hot foot, and so ali keeps running around decorum was never uh recovered.
So at the time ally’s running around matt fleisher, the editor of ring magazine is at ringside yelling, oh walcott come over here.
Walcott should have ignored him because fleischer was only there as a writer for the magazine.
He was not in any official capacity, but he couldn’t resist his eagle.
Wouldn’T let him resist the temptation to get involved with the fight lit uh well caught should have ignored him.
Ali hits liston number one, listen or ali won’t go to a neutral corner number.
Two number three fleischer calls him over.
Walcott goes over.
Doesn’T that’s number four doesn’t call time: five doesn’t let ali doesn’t you know not directed ali to a neutral corner, picks up the count from the time keeper who says it’s over and he goes back and he stops to fight.
Liston said he stayed down because ali was running around the ring like a madman and he was afraid allie would hit him or ali might kick him accidentally and for once in his life, liston was telling the truth.
Ally came very close to pumping into liston and a wall thought walcott lost, complete control of the proceedings, listen as he said a couple years later, and the only time he spoke about the fight he got up and he said if you watch the tape, i was Fighting back liston started to punch back allie easily avoided the punches and started to unload on listen, big time, and i don’t think dustin would have made it out of the round if the fight was allowed to continue when a fight is fixed, the mob would fix A fight in every instance if they had control of the man winning the fight the mob, didn’t control.
At this point, ali in the rematch was controlled and had joined the nation of islam.
They controlled his finances.
The mob wasn’t able to muscle in on them because of the fruit of islam were well armed and were were disciplined and they weren’t going to kowtow to the mafia.
The mafia was not going to get any more money for muhammad ali other than their percentage of the first fight against liston liston, wouldn’t go down and and participate in a fixed fight.
Why? Because the heavyweight championship the world defined him, he felt worthless.
Otherwise, the proof is in the tape he got up.
He was fighting back guys that take dives don’t get up and make an effort to fight back if it was fixed.
Why didn’t liston just stay down and take the full 10 count? He didn’t ally had him against the ropes.
While caught comes back after conferring with the timekeeper and knight fleischer and stops the fight, everyone was shocked.
No one was more shocked than muhammad ali who asked his brother ramen rocky.
Did i hit him? He said you hit him, you hit him with the right hand, it happened so quickly and listen went down and it was a legitimate punch and then ally had to run around the ring like a crazy man.
That’S why that famous picture you see the most famous in all sports of him standing over listening and he’s saying, get up, get up, you bum get up and fight.
He wanted to have a legitimate knockout and one thing working against liston was ali had lost his fear entirely of sunny, listen after beating him the first time so the fight’s over everyone calls it a fix because it was um a phantom punch, they said, but there Was no way that it was a fix everyone that said it was a fix everyone from liston’s handler ash resnick to barnett mcgidz, who was a notorious pathological liar everyone that says online.
It was a fix.
There’S no proof there’s no evidence that it was a fix.
People would say that fight was fixed.
Show me the evidence.
Fbi looked into, it said originally thought it was fixed and said there was no fix and it makes no sense.
Why would they give up the richest prize in all of sport, the world heavyweight title to muhammad ali and the nation of islam? They wanted to control it there it just.
No one has presented evidence of any kind, there’s no evidentiary basis to prove that list and delivery took a deliberately took a dive.
People will still say well that fight was fixed.
I don’t care what you see, but you have to care what people say, because people like myself historians who look into it can verify that there is no existing proof from anyone even in mob talk that the fight was fixed.
That liston deliberately went into the tank and there was no reason he needed the money and he wanted the title back and the other proof that it wasn’t a fix was, of course, the mob controlled.
The other heavyweight titleist ernie terrell, who won the wba title from eddie machin, so they covered themselves on both ends and, of course, after the fight muhammad went on to this hall of fame career becoming the most famous man still on the face of the earth, liston Fought second-tier fighters for the rest of his life and until they got knocked out by leotis martin and then had his last fight in against chuck webner in new jersey, and the sad thing of course of liston is.
We know he died from it’s rumor in a hot shot by the mob that they came over listening and opened his mouth to his to ash resnick his mob handler said.
I don’t want to be muscle for the mob anymore.
I just want to be a person.
That’S a loan shark.
They said no listen, threatening to go to the mall or to the media.
You don’t do that with the mob and came over to his house slipped him a mickey and then gave him a hot shot of cocaine and heroin ali was saddened by this because he genuinely didn’t dislike.
He wanted to get to know him and he was starting to do that before this happened.
That’S the story of the fight, that’s the story of what occurred may 25th 1965.
If there are people out there who think the fight was fixed, i would like to see the irrefutable evidence you have because for the last 55 years i’ve been told that story and i’ve seen no evidence of it.
My name’s lou eisen.
This has been a ring.
Talk we’ll see you again next week.
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