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I’ve never been to Las Vegas. The closest I got was watch Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Plenty of friends have been there for stag parties. I’m not sure if they have a similar number of hen dos. Whether you have been there or not there is little doubt you have heard about Las Vegas. Such is the promotion machine which screams: ‘If you love gambling this is the place to visit.’ I guess I will get there one day. However, as I’m not a brainless gambler I really wouldn’t be sucked into the vacuum cleaner which disrobes so many of the last dollar in their pockets. I’ve written a few articles about Vegas including one titled 1100 Ways to Die in Las Vegas. Relating to the number of people who die there annually. This article will be different in detailing 5 Famous Sportsmen who died in Las Vegas. I guess that means people you would call celebrities. Lets take a look and see.
1) Joe Louis
Considered one of the greatest heavyweight boxers. The Brown Bomber competed from 1934 – 1951. In fact, he was world heavyweight champion for over a decade from 1937 – 1949. He was victorious in 25 consecutive world title fights. Louis died in 1981 of cardiac arrest at Desert Springs near Las Vegas just hours after his last public appearance viewing the Larry Holmes – Trevor Berbick heavyweight championship fight.
2) Bob Orton
An American professional wrestler and father of the famous Orton wrestling family including his son Bob junior. Orton, known by many as The Big O. Born in 1929, he died aged 76 in 2006. A good friend of Andre the Giant passed away after suffering multiple heart attacks while living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
3) Sonny Liston
A professional boxer who competed from 1953 – 1970 and gained his heavyweight companionship title in 1962 when he knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round. Born in 1930, Liston was a tough fighter, with many considering him unbeatable. However he lost his title to Muhammed Ali in 1964. Ali was the underdog and given little hope. The following year they had a re-match and Liston was knocked out in the first round. Some considered the fight a fix. He dies in mysterious circumstances in 1970. He was 40 years old. He died in his Las Vegas home and buried in Paradise Memorial Gardens. From his 54 fights he won 50, with two losses to Ali, Marty Marshal & Leotis Martin. .
4) Travis Claridge
American football star. The offensive lineman played in the NFL for Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. A big man he weighed 300lb and 6’ 5’’ tall. He played 62 matches in his first four seasons at Atlanta before injuring his knee. He played just 6 games in 2003 and his contract wasn’t extended. He signed with Carolina Panthers but was cut during training camp. He died in 2006 after being found unconscious at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.
5) Robert Wangila
Kenyan boxer Robert Napunyi Wangila was a welterweight boxer and gold medalist from the 1988 Summer Olympics. He turned pro in 1989. Sadly, Wangila died from his injuries received in the 1994 fight against David Gonzales in Las Vegas. He was just 27 years old.