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Let's start with a little history, shall we?
The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s controversial film about the last 44 hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, opens in theaters across the United States on February 25, 2004. Not coincidentally, the day was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Catholic season of Lent. Gibson, who put millions of his own money into the project, initially had trouble finding a distributor for the film. Eventually, Newmarket Films signed on to release it in the United States. Upon its debut in February 2004, The Passion of the Christ surprised many by becoming a huge hit at the box office. It also continued to fuel the fires of controversy, earning harsh criticism for its extreme violence and gore—much of the film focuses on the brutal beating of Jesus prior to his crucifixion—which many saw as overkill. The film critic Roger Ebert called The Passion of the Christ “the most violent film I have ever seen.” Gibson’s response to similar charges was that such a reaction was intentional. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, he claimed: “I wanted it to be shocking. And I wanted it to be extreme…. So that they see the enormity, the enormity of that sacrifice; to see that someone could endure that and still come back with love and forgiveness, even through extreme pain and suffering and ridicule.”
On February 25, 1964, 22-year-old Cassius Clay shocks the odds-makers by dethroning world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston in a seventh-round technical knockout. The dreaded Liston, who had twice demolished former champ Floyd Patterson in one round, was an 8-to-1 favorite. However, Clay predicted victory, boasting that he would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and knock out Liston in the eighth round. The fleet-footed and loquacious youngster who would later become known as Muhammed Ali needed less time to make good on his claim—Liston, complaining of an injured shoulder, failed to answer the seventh-round bell. A few moments later, a new heavyweight champion was proclaimed. A crowd of 8,300 spectators gathered at the Convention Hall arena in Miami Beach to see if Cassius Clay, who was nicknamed the “Louisville Lip,” could put his money where his mouth was. The underdog proved no bragging fraud, and he danced and backpedaled away from Liston’s powerful swings while delivering quick and punishing jabs to Liston’s head. Liston hurt his shoulder in the first round, injuring some muscles as he swung for and missed his elusive target. By the time he decided to discontinue the bout between the sixth and seventh rounds, he and Clay were about equal in points. A few conjectured that Liston faked the injury and threw the fight, but there was no real evidence, such as a significant change in bidding odds just before the bout, to support this claim.
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This is the day The Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
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