Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s Zora Folley was among the best heavyweights in the world. Only a reluctant world champion and untimely losses kept him from getting a title shot in the prime of his career. It took Zora fourteen years before he received a crack at the championship. That would be against Muhammad Ali, who at that time, was at the peak of his powers.
Folley was born in Dallas, Texas on March 27, 1931. He would fight out of Arizona and turned professional in 1953. He was undefeated in his first nineteen bouts including two knockout victories over Howard King. In June of 1955, Folley suffered his first setback being halted by rugged Johnny Summerlin. Later that year, Zora was stopped by Young Jack Johnson for the California heavyweight title. Folley would bounce back to win eighteen straight before he fought a draw with clever Eddie Machen in 1958. Among Zora’s victims were Roger Rischer, Nino Valdes, Duke Sabadong and Wayne Bethea twice. Folley was now high in the heavyweight rankings.