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Michael Silver       ali frazier march 8 1971 3-8-2011 9:41 PM
It was advertised simply as "THE FIGHT." No other words were necessary. The stupendous Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier showdown of March 8, 1971 was perhaps the most anticipated event in all of sports history.

It was a match between two great undefeated heavyweight champions that by itself would have been enough to capture the attention of millions of fans. But it was the added dimensions of politics, religion, race, and ego
Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were both undefeated when they met March 8, 1971.
whipped to a frenzy by the most charismatic and controversial athlete of the 20th Century that would capture the attention of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, most of whom had never even seen a professional boxing match.

It was an event that transcended sport.

Boxing, in its naked violently simplistic mano α mano way, was the perfect metaphor. To the masses Frazier and Ali had come to represent more than themselves.

It all began innocently enough. Ali, fighting under his given name of Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic light heavyweight title in 1960 and the heavyweight championship of the world at the age of 22 by defeating the seemingly invincible brute Sonny Liston in 1964. Spouting poetry and predicting the round in which his opponents would fall, the brash youngster was colorful, engaging, quick witted, and a master showman.

The self-proclaimed "Greatest" was a boxing phenomenon. He had incredibly fast hands and cat-like reflexes. His handsome face was rarely hit. Clay personified his motto to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." The boxing world, indeed the sports world, had never seen anything like him.

But everything changed the day after he won the title. He announced to the world he was a member of the Black Muslims, a hitherto little known black separatist movement that practiced the religion of Islam, espoused self help for the Negro race, and preached that the white man was the devil.

The new champion said that he would no longer be known by his slave name Cassius Clay. “ I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be who I want. ”
— Muhammad Ali
He would now be known as Cassius X. He spoke to the assembled reporters but his words were aimed at the white establishment when he stated that "I don't have to be what you want me to be. I am free to be who I want."

Three weeks later the leader of the sect, Elijah Mohammed, conferred upon Cassius X his new Muslim name -- Muhammad Ali.

Ali, backed by the Black Muslims, was announcing to the world that he was breaking free of the role that had traditionally been assigned to Black heavyweight champions.

Yet, in many ways, Ali never really stopped being Cassius Clay. He could still be funny and creative when promoting his fights just as he was before he won the title. Then again, when preaching Black Muslim dogma, he could be humorless and truculent even to the point of taunting and cruelly punishing black opponents (Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell) who refused to call him by his Muslim name. Boxing's established old guard felt betrayed and angry and hoped that he would soon be dethroned. No such luck. Ali was just too good a fighter. From 1965 to 1967 he defended his title nine times. No challenger ever came close to defeating him. He was proud of his defensive skill, often boasting that no one would ever know if he could take a punch because he did not intend to ever have to prove that he could.

Muhammad Ali, boxer and public figure, had his detractors and his supporters but whatever criticism and controversy he had encountered in the past was nothing compared to what was to come. He was about to be thrust onto a stage much larger than a boxing ring. The turbulent, crazy decade of the 1960s was about to shift into high gear.

In 1967, with the United States fighting a war in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight champion of the world, refused to step forward and accept induction into the Army. Ali, stating that he was a Muslim minister, claimed conscientious objector status on the grounds that his religion forbade him to participate in a war. It should be understood that there were already hundreds of thousands of Americans doing service in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. Almost 30,000 had already been killed. Ali was denounced as a draft dodger. Several congressmen took the opportunity to vilify him and questioned his patriotism and motives.

ESPN Classic events
SportsCentury: Muhammad Ali

Boxing commissions throughout the country were quick to strip him of his title and suspend his license to box.

Two months later, on June 20, 1967, Ali was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.

While Ali was free on bail, pending the appeals process, his lawyers tried to restore his boxing license. It was to no avail; Ali was a pariah.

But not to everyone.

The controversial war in Vietnam had created an active anti-war movement comprised mostly of college students. Ali, running low on funds, accepted invitations to speak on college campuses. The defrocked champion may have been barley literate but he certainly was not verbally challenged. His lively lectures were well received. He spoke about his views on race, religious philosophy, and the war. Since the boxing establishment had already started the process of crowning a new heavyweight champion Ali always ended his speeches by asking the audience to tell him who the real heavyweight champion was. He was obviously pleased to hear the familiar chant of "Ali, Ali." The counter culture had a new hero.

The country was split between those supporting our efforts in Vietnam and those opposed to the war. Hawks, doves, hard hats, flower children, black power, Woodstock, Kent State and the silent majority were bywords for the most divisive American decade since the American Civil War some 100 years earlier.

This was also a time of activism and militancy for many black Americans involved in the civil rights movement, especially after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

While all this was going on the boxing promoters were conducting a series of tournaments to find a successor to Muhammad Ali.

Rising to the top of the heavyweight heap like some unstoppable force of nature was a human wrecking ball named Joe Frazier. He was one of 13 children born dirt-poor on a farm in rural South Carolina. He had come to Philadelphia as a married 16-year-old and was working in a kosher slaughterhouse when he first took up boxing. As an amateur Joe won three Golden Gloves titles and, in 1964, the Olympic heavyweight championship. Over the next five years, using his feared left hook like a meat cleaver, he knocked out 23 of 26 opponents.


Frazier was vilified by Ali and many members of the media.
In many ways he was the exact opposite of Ali both in style and personality. Frazier was a pure puncher. He constantly pressured opponents, hands always in motion, head down, moving ever forward out of a low crouch and throwing his destructive left hook out of a bob and weave. He never stopped throwing punches until his opponent dropped.

It was a style that was meant to vex a stand-up boxer like Ali.

Frazier was a decent, hardworking, law abiding, church going family man, who was too busy trying to support his growing family to get involved in any causes.

The anti-Ali crowd had found their man, although Joe did not care to be looked upon as a symbol of anything other than who he was.

So impressive was Frazier in victory that many fans thought he had a good chance to defeat Ali on the best day the ex-champion ever saw. Ali instinctively sensed that this was the perfect opponent for him physically and psychologically. And even though he now had been out of the ring over three years he was as confident of victory as was Frazier.

Ali never lost an opportunity to demean and belittle Frazier's ability and insist that he and not some pretender was the real heavyweight champion. Of course it was meant to hype the gate for a possible fight. But try as he might Ali was never able to ruffle Joe's feathers. Smokin' Joe was a cool customer who was happiest and most comfortable beating up opponents. He would silence this braggart in the ring. The stage was being set for an epic confrontation.

It was now the summer of 1970. Ali had not fought in almost 3½ years. Even if he was allowed to come back how much had the layoff affected his magnificent skills?

The world was about to find out.

Through a quirky set of circumstances, helped by a changing political climate and a friendly black state senator, Ali was granted a boxing license in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places. Not wanting to go in against Frazier without some tune-up fights, Ali chose to meet the No. 1 contender, Jerry Quarry, on October 26, 1970 in the 6,000-seat municipal auditorium.

What irony! A controversial black activist and war resister meeting a white opponent in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the biggest night Atlanta had seen since the opening of "Gone With The Wind" some 30 years earlier.

The 28-year-old Ali dominated Quarry for the three rounds the fight lasted until a bad cut over Quarry's left eye forced a stoppage. Although an impressive victory it was too short a fight to evaluate Ali's true condition.

Ali's situation was steadily improving. A New York State Judge ruled that his boxing license had been revoked unfairly and ordered it reinstated. This opened the way for another tune-up fight in New York against top-rated contender Oscar Bonavena.

On December 7th, 1970 in New York's Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali knocked out the awkward and very strong Argentinean in the 15th and final round for his 30th straight victory. Up until the spectacular knockout it had been a tough and grueling fight. Boxing people saw that Ali's legs had slowed down and he did not move with the same fluid speed and accuracy that he had before his long layoff. But he did win, was still undefeated, and had three months to prepare for his showdown with Joe Frazier.

The countdown had begun.

The Fight


The match was set for March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Each man was guaranteed $2.5 million dollars, the largest single payday for any entertainer or athlete at the time. Tickets to the Garden would be made available to the general public by mail on a first come first served basis. Prices in the arena ranged from $20 for a balcony seat to $150 for ringside. Hundreds of other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada would screen the fight via closed circuit television to fans paying $5 to $15.

Interest in the event was incredible. Radio, television, and the print media were filled with stories discussing the upcoming fight. Tension and anticipation were building by the hour. Few athletic events, be it World Series, Super Bowl or World Cup, had come even close to generating the type of excitement and attention that this prizefight was getting.

Fifty countries had purchased rights to the telecast.
Frank Sinatra photographed the fight for Life Magazine.
The fight was broadcast from ringside in 12 different languages. When the final tallies were added up it was estimated that 300 million people around the globe had watched the fight. It was the largest audience ever for a television broadcast up to that time. More people had tuned into the fight than had watched the moon landing two years before. In the end the fight grossed between 18 and 20 million dollars word wide of which less than $1,500,000 came from television money outside the United States and Canada. But the United States and Canada provided only 1,500,000 viewers.

Although oddsmakers made Frazier a slight 6 to 5 favorite Ali's supporters were not perturbed. Their belief in him was total. It went beyond his skill as a boxer. To them he was more than just a boxer-he was a symbol. He could not lose. Ali agreed and predicted that Frazier "will fall in six."

Ali had an 8½-inch advantage in reach, 4-inches in height (6'3" to 5'11") and weighed 215 lbs. to Joe's 205½.

The night of the fight was electric. As the fighters made their way towards the ring hearts pounded and pulses raced. Everyone was on their feet. The Garden, filled to capacity with 20,455 spectators, was brimming with celebrities. But not everyone of note was able to get choice seating. Hubert Humphrey, the ex-vice president of the United States, was sitting in the mezzanine! Frank Sinatra had one of the best seats in the house. He was hired by Life Magazine (although he would gladly have paid them for the privilege) to photograph the fight from the ring apron. The overflow of stars who couldn't get into the Garden, like Bing Crosby, were to be found at Radio City Music Hall whose 6,500 seats had sold out three weeks earlier. Virtually every other closed circuit television location was also filled to capacity.

While both fighters waited for the introductions Ali, gliding around the ring, twice brushed Frazier's shoulder as he moved past him. The crowd reacted with a roar. Frazier glared at Ali contemptuously.

Then the house lights dimmed. The tension was almost unbearable. The fans were still on their feet when the bell rang. The fight was on!

Joe came out bobbing and weaving, edging in towards Ali, trying to get under his jab and land the hook to his body or head. Ali was using his footwork to keep Joe at a distance. But most of his jabs were missing the target as Frazier's head moved quickly to avoid them. Ali seemed surprised by Frazier's speed.

By the third round Ali had come off his toes and was fighting uncharacteristically flatfooted perhaps to save energy. Frazier was setting an incredible pace. He seemed almost maniacal, throwing more punches in one round than most heavyweights throw in an entire fight. But Ali was picking his spots and landing hard counter punches and powerful jabs.

The sixth round came and went and with it Ali's predicted knockout. Frazier laughed derisively at him at the end of the round.

The fight was being fought with a brutal intensity rarely seen in any prizefight. Each man was fighting as if he had a point to prove. This was a genuine grudge match and it was being fought like one.

Ali could not keep up the torrid pace. He was allowing Frazier to pin him against the ropes, something he would never have done in previous fights. It appeared that Ali could no longer move with the old speed and lightness of foot. Even so, as the bell rang for the start of the 11th round, it was still anybody's fight.


Joe Frazier lands one of his trademark left hooks.
Suddenly, with a minute to go in the round, Frazier caught Ali with a tremendous left hook to the jaw that caused his knees to sag. He tried to fool Frazier into thinking he was just playing possum but he was genuinely hurt. He barley made it to the end of the round. The pace slowed a bit in the next two rounds as both men seemed to be conserving what energy they had left for the homestretch. In the 14th round Ali, drawing on some mysterious inner resource, staged a miraculous comeback and pounded Frazier with some of his best punches of the fight.

Now entering the final round both men were exhausted but still punching.

And then it happened.

Frazier lashed out with another of his countless left hooks only this one landed flush on Ali's exposed jaw. He went down hard, flat on his back, legs in the air. Incredibly Ali bounced up at the count of three and made it to the final bell.

If anyone still had any doubts as to who deserved to win the fight it was settled with that one left hook that dropped Ali for only the third time in his career.

The unanimous decision went to Frazier. He deserved it. But Ali too deserved the accolades due him for a tremendous effort. No one would ever again question his ability to take a punch.

The fight ranks as one of boxing's all-time classics.

EPILOGUE: On June 27, 1971, by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Thurgood Marshall abstaining) the United States Supreme Court cleared Muhammad Ali of the charge that he refused induction into the Armed Forces.


Michael Silver is a boxing historian, media consultant, and journalist whose articles on boxing have appeared in numerous publications including Ring Magazine, Boxing Monthly and the New York Times.








gremly       ali frazier march 8 1971 3-8-2013 11:03 AM
ali frazier march 8 1971

http://espn.go.com/classic/s/silver_ali_frazier.html
March 8, 1971

It was advertised simply as "THE FIGHT." No other words were necessary. The stupendous Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier showdown of March 8, 1971 was perhaps the most anticipated event in all of sports history.

It was a match between two great undefeated heavyweight champions that by itself would have been enough to capture the attention of millions of fans. But it was the added dimensions of politics, religion, race, and ego
Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were both undefeated when they met March 8, 1971.
whipped to a frenzy by the most charismatic and controversial athlete of the 20th Century that would capture the attention of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, most of whom had never even seen a professional boxing match.

It was an event that transcended sport.

Boxing, in its naked violently simplistic mano α mano way, was the perfect metaphor. To the masses Frazier and Ali had come to represent more than themselves.

It all began innocently enough. Ali, fighting under his given name of Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic light heavyweight title in 1960 and the heavyweight championship of the world at the age of 22 by defeating the seemingly invincible brute Sonny Liston in 1964. Spouting poetry and predicting the round in which his opponents would fall, the brash youngster was colorful, engaging, quick witted, and a master showman.

The self-proclaimed "Greatest" was a boxing phenomenon. He had incredibly fast hands and cat-like reflexes. His handsome face was rarely hit. Clay personified his motto to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." The boxing world, indeed the sports world, had never seen anything like him.

But everything changed the day after he won the title. He announced to the world he was a member of the Black Muslims, a hitherto little known black separatist movement that practiced the religion of Islam, espoused self help for the Negro race, and preached that the white man was the devil.

The new champion said that he would no longer be known by his slave name Cassius Clay. “ I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be who I want. ”
— Muhammad Ali
He would now be known as Cassius X. He spoke to the assembled reporters but his words were aimed at the white establishment when he stated that "I don't have to be what you want me to be. I am free to be who I want."

Three weeks later the leader of the sect, Elijah Mohammed, conferred upon Cassius X his new Muslim name -- Muhammad Ali.

Ali, backed by the Black Muslims, was announcing to the world that he was breaking free of the role that had traditionally been assigned to Black heavyweight champions.

Yet, in many ways, Ali never really stopped being Cassius Clay. He could still be funny and creative when promoting his fights just as he was before he won the title. Then again, when preaching Black Muslim dogma, he could be humorless and truculent even to the point of taunting and cruelly punishing black opponents (Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell) who refused to call him by his Muslim name. Boxing's established old guard felt betrayed and angry and hoped that he would soon be dethroned. No such luck. Ali was just too good a fighter. From 1965 to 1967 he defended his title nine times. No challenger ever came close to defeating him. He was proud of his defensive skill, often boasting that no one would ever know if he could take a punch because he did not intend to ever have to prove that he could.

Muhammad Ali, boxer and public figure, had his detractors and his supporters but whatever criticism and controversy he had encountered in the past was nothing compared to what was to come. He was about to be thrust onto a stage much larger than a boxing ring. The turbulent, crazy decade of the 1960s was about to shift into high gear.

In 1967, with the United States fighting a war in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight champion of the world, refused to step forward and accept induction into the Army. Ali, stating that he was a Muslim minister, claimed conscientious objector status on the grounds that his religion forbade him to participate in a war. It should be understood that there were already hundreds of thousands of Americans doing service in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. Almost 30,000 had already been killed. Ali was denounced as a draft dodger. Several congressmen took the opportunity to vilify him and questioned his patriotism and motives.

ESPN Classic events
SportsCentury: Muhammad Ali

Boxing commissions throughout the country were quick to strip him of his title and suspend his license to box.

Two months later, on June 20, 1967, Ali was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.

While Ali was free on bail, pending the appeals process, his lawyers tried to restore his boxing license. It was to no avail; Ali was a pariah.

But not to everyone.

The controversial war in Vietnam had created an active anti-war movement comprised mostly of college students. Ali, running low on funds, accepted invitations to speak on college campuses. The defrocked champion may have been barley literate but he certainly was not verbally challenged. His lively lectures were well received. He spoke about his views on race, religious philosophy, and the war. Since the boxing establishment had already started the process of crowning a new heavyweight champion Ali always ended his speeches by asking the audience to tell him who the real heavyweight champion was. He was obviously pleased to hear the familiar chant of "Ali, Ali." The counter culture had a new hero.

The country was split between those supporting our efforts in Vietnam and those opposed to the war. Hawks, doves, hard hats, flower children, black power, Woodstock, Kent State and the silent majority were bywords for the most divisive American decade since the American Civil War some 100 years earlier.

This was also a time of activism and militancy for many black Americans involved in the civil rights movement, especially after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

While all this was going on the boxing promoters were conducting a series of tournaments to find a successor to Muhammad Ali.

Rising to the top of the heavyweight heap like some unstoppable force of nature was a human wrecking ball named Joe Frazier. He was one of 13 children born dirt-poor on a farm in rural South Carolina. He had come to Philadelphia as a married 16-year-old and was working in a kosher slaughterhouse when he first took up boxing. As an amateur Joe won three Golden Gloves titles and, in 1964, the Olympic heavyweight championship. Over the next five years, using his feared left hook like a meat cleaver, he knocked out 23 of 26 opponents.


Frazier was vilified by Ali and many members of the media.
In many ways he was the exact opposite of Ali both in style and personality. Frazier was a pure puncher. He constantly pressured opponents, hands always in motion, head down, moving ever forward out of a low crouch and throwing his destructive left hook out of a bob and weave. He never stopped throwing punches until his opponent dropped.

It was a style that was meant to vex a stand-up boxer like Ali.

Frazier was a decent, hardworking, law abiding, church going family man, who was too busy trying to support his growing family to get involved in any causes.

The anti-Ali crowd had found their man, although Joe did not care to be looked upon as a symbol of anything other than who he was.

So impressive was Frazier in victory that many fans thought he had a good chance to defeat Ali on the best day the ex-champion ever saw. Ali instinctively sensed that this was the perfect opponent for him physically and psychologically. And even though he now had been out of the ring over three years he was as confident of victory as was Frazier.

Ali never lost an opportunity to demean and belittle Frazier's ability and insist that he and not some pretender was the real heavyweight champion. Of course it was meant to hype the gate for a possible fight. But try as he might Ali was never able to ruffle Joe's feathers. Smokin' Joe was a cool customer who was happiest and most comfortable beating up opponents. He would silence this braggart in the ring. The stage was being set for an epic confrontation.

It was now the summer of 1970. Ali had not fought in almost 3½ years. Even if he was allowed to come back how much had the layoff affected his magnificent skills?

The world was about to find out.

Through a quirky set of circumstances, helped by a changing political climate and a friendly black state senator, Ali was granted a boxing license in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places. Not wanting to go in against Frazier without some tune-up fights, Ali chose to meet the No. 1 contender, Jerry Quarry, on October 26, 1970 in the 6,000-seat municipal auditorium.

What irony! A controversial black activist and war resister meeting a white opponent in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the biggest night Atlanta had seen since the opening of "Gone With The Wind" some 30 years earlier.

The 28-year-old Ali dominated Quarry for the three rounds the fight lasted until a bad cut over Quarry's left eye forced a stoppage. Although an impressive victory it was too short a fight to evaluate Ali's true condition.

Ali's situation was steadily improving. A New York State Judge ruled that his boxing license had been revoked unfairly and ordered it reinstated. This opened the way for another tune-up fight in New York against top-rated contender Oscar Bonavena.

On December 7th, 1970 in New York's Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali knocked out the awkward and very strong Argentinean in the 15th and final round for his 30th straight victory. Up until the spectacular knockout it had been a tough and grueling fight. Boxing people saw that Ali's legs had slowed down and he did not move with the same fluid speed and accuracy that he had before his long layoff. But he did win, was still undefeated, and had three months to prepare for his showdown with Joe Frazier.

The countdown had begun.

The Fight


The match was set for March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Each man was guaranteed $2.5 million dollars, the largest single payday for any entertainer or athlete at the time. Tickets to the Garden would be made available to the general public by mail on a first come first served basis. Prices in the arena ranged from $20 for a balcony seat to $150 for ringside. Hundreds of other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada would screen the fight via closed circuit television to fans paying $5 to $15.

Interest in the event was incredible. Radio, television, and the print media were filled with stories discussing the upcoming fight. Tension and anticipation were building by the hour. Few athletic events, be it World Series, Super Bowl or World Cup, had come even close to generating the type of excitement and attention that this prizefight was getting.

Fifty countries had purchased rights to the telecast.
Frank Sinatra photographed the fight for Life Magazine.
The fight was broadcast from ringside in 12 different languages. When the final tallies were added up it was estimated that 300 million people around the globe had watched the fight. It was the largest audience ever for a television broadcast up to that time. More people had tuned into the fight than had watched the moon landing two years before. In the end the fight grossed between 18 and 20 million dollars word wide of which less than $1,500,000 came from television money outside the United States and Canada. But the United States and Canada provided only 1,500,000 viewers.

Although oddsmakers made Frazier a slight 6 to 5 favorite Ali's supporters were not perturbed. Their belief in him was total. It went beyond his skill as a boxer. To them he was more than just a boxer-he was a symbol. He could not lose. Ali agreed and predicted that Frazier "will fall in six."

Ali had an 8½-inch advantage in reach, 4-inches in height (6'3" to 5'11") and weighed 215 lbs. to Joe's 205½.

The night of the fight was electric. As the fighters made their way towards the ring hearts pounded and pulses raced. Everyone was on their feet. The Garden, filled to capacity with 20,455 spectators, was brimming with celebrities. But not everyone of note was able to get choice seating. Hubert Humphrey, the ex-vice president of the United States, was sitting in the mezzanine! Frank Sinatra had one of the best seats in the house. He was hired by Life Magazine (although he would gladly have paid them for the privilege) to photograph the fight from the ring apron. The overflow of stars who couldn't get into the Garden, like Bing Crosby, were to be found at Radio City Music Hall whose 6,500 seats had sold out three weeks earlier. Virtually every other closed circuit television location was also filled to capacity.

While both fighters waited for the introductions Ali, gliding around the ring, twice brushed Frazier's shoulder as he moved past him. The crowd reacted with a roar. Frazier glared at Ali contemptuously.

Then the house lights dimmed. The tension was almost unbearable. The fans were still on their feet when the bell rang. The fight was on!

Joe came out bobbing and weaving, edging in towards Ali, trying to get under his jab and land the hook to his body or head. Ali was using his footwork to keep Joe at a distance. But most of his jabs were missing the target as Frazier's head moved quickly to avoid them. Ali seemed surprised by Frazier's speed.

By the third round Ali had come off his toes and was fighting uncharacteristically flatfooted perhaps to save energy. Frazier was setting an incredible pace. He seemed almost maniacal, throwing more punches in one round than most heavyweights throw in an entire fight. But Ali was picking his spots and landing hard counter punches and powerful jabs.

The sixth round came and went and with it Ali's predicted knockout. Frazier laughed derisively at him at the end of the round.

The fight was being fought with a brutal intensity rarely seen in any prizefight. Each man was fighting as if he had a point to prove. This was a genuine grudge match and it was being fought like one.

Ali could not keep up the torrid pace. He was allowing Frazier to pin him against the ropes, something he would never have done in previous fights. It appeared that Ali could no longer move with the old speed and lightness of foot. Even so, as the bell rang for the start of the 11th round, it was still anybody's fight.


Joe Frazier lands one of his trademark left hooks.
Suddenly, with a minute to go in the round, Frazier caught Ali with a tremendous left hook to the jaw that caused his knees to sag. He tried to fool Frazier into thinking he was just playing possum but he was genuinely hurt. He barley made it to the end of the round. The pace slowed a bit in the next two rounds as both men seemed to be conserving what energy they had left for the homestretch. In the 14th round Ali, drawing on some mysterious inner resource, staged a miraculous comeback and pounded Frazier with some of his best punches of the fight.

Now entering the final round both men were exhausted but still punching.

And then it happened.

Frazier lashed out with another of his countless left hooks only this one landed flush on Ali's exposed jaw. He went down hard, flat on his back, legs in the air. Incredibly Ali bounced up at the count of three and made it to the final bell.

If anyone still had any doubts as to who deserved to win the fight it was settled with that one left hook that dropped Ali for only the third time in his career.

The unanimous decision went to Frazier. He deserved it. But Ali too deserved the accolades due him for a tremendous effort. No one would ever again question his ability to take a punch.

The fight ranks as one of boxing's all-time classics.

EPILOGUE: On June 27, 1971, by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Thurgood Marshall abstaining) the United States Supreme Court cleared Muhammad Ali of the charge that he refused induction into the Armed Forces.


Michael Silver is a boxing historian, media consultant, and journalist whose articles on boxing have appeared in numerous publications including Ring Magazine, Boxing Monthly and the New York Times.

Taco       March 8, 1987 3-3-2015 06:34 AM
March 8, 1987 Peter Plays The Ax Murderer In Murder For The Fun Of

28 YEARS AGO an 16 years after the first Ali Vs. Frazier fight at MSG
Some have called it the most anticipated an exciting fight of all time
March 8, 1971 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8UPiArcPSw


THIS MONTH IN PETER AUSTIN NOTO HISTORY
March 8, 1987 Peter Plays The Ax Murderer In Murder For The Fun Of
It At The Holiday Inn At Nantucket Long Island
THIS MONTH IN PETER AUSTIN NOTO HISTORY

Taco       now on fb 3-3-2015 06:53 AM
https://www.facebook.com/peter.a.noto/media_set?set=a.10204717062261012.1073742104.1070315502&type=3

Posted By: Taco
Re: March 8, 1987 Peter Plays The Ax Murderer In Murder For The Fun Of It
@ 3-3-2015 06:19 AM

28 YEARS AGO an 16 years after the first Ali Vs. Frazier fight at MSG
Some have called it the most anticipated an exciting fight of all time
March 8, 1971 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8UPiArcPSw


THIS MONTH IN PETER AUSTIN NOTO HISTORY
March 8, 1987 Peter Plays The Ax Murderer In Murder For The Fun Of
It At The Holiday Inn At Nantucket Long Island
THIS MONTH IN PETER AUSTIN NOTO HISTORY

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LEGEND       34 years ago today 3-8-2015 06:15 AM
Some have called it the most anticipated an exciting fight of all time
March 8, 1971 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8UPiArcPSw



Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali - March 8, 1971



34 years ago today Frazier vs Ali - March 8, 1971


Some have called it the most anticipated an exciting fight of all time
March 8, 1971 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8UPiArcPSw



Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali - March 8, 1971
Hunter S. Thompson       2 PHOTOS 6-5-2016 07:06 AM
https://www.facebook.com/ThePeterAustinNotoShow/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1739366062952031
March 8, 1971
http://espn.go.com/classic/s/silver_ali_frazier.html

It was advertised simply as "THE FIGHT." No other words were necessary. The
stupendous Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier showdown of March 8, 1971 was
perhaps the most anticipated event in all of sports history.

It was a match between two great undefeated heavyweight champions that by
itself would have been enough to capture the attention of millions of fans.
But it was the added dimensions of politics, religion, race, and ego
Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were both undefeated when they met March 8,
1971.
whipped to a frenzy by the most charismatic and controversial athlete of the
20th Century that would capture the attention of hundreds of millions of
people throughout the world, most of whom had never even seen a professional
boxing match.

It was an event that transcended sport.

Boxing, in its naked violently simplistic mano α mano way, was the perfect
metaphor. To the masses Frazier and Ali had come to represent more than
themselves.

It all began innocently enough. Ali, fighting under his given name of
Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic light heavyweight title in 1960 and the
heavyweight championship of the world at the age of 22 by defeating the
seemingly invincible brute Sonny Liston in 1964. Spouting poetry and
predicting the round in which his opponents would fall, the brash youngster
was colorful, engaging, quick witted, and a master showman.

The self-proclaimed "Greatest" was a boxing phenomenon. He had incredibly
fast hands and cat-like reflexes. His handsome face was rarely hit. Clay
personified his motto to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." The
boxing world, indeed the sports world, had never seen anything like him.

But everything changed the day after he won the title. He announced to the
world he was a member of the Black Muslims, a hitherto little known black
separatist movement that practiced the religion of Islam, espoused self help
for the Negro race, and preached that the white man was the devil.

The new champion said that he would no longer be known by his slave name
Cassius Clay. “ I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be
who I want. ”
— Muhammad Ali
He would now be known as Cassius X. He spoke to the assembled reporters but
his words were aimed at the white establishment when he stated that "I don't
have to be what you want me to be. I am free to be who I want."

Three weeks later the leader of the sect, Elijah Mohammed, conferred upon
Cassius X his new Muslim name -- Muhammad Ali.

Ali, backed by the Black Muslims, was announcing to the world that he was
breaking free of the role that had traditionally been assigned to Black
heavyweight champions.

Yet, in many ways, Ali never really stopped being Cassius Clay. He could
still be funny and creative when promoting his fights just as he was before
he won the title. Then again, when preaching Black Muslim dogma, he could be
humorless and truculent even to the point of taunting and cruelly punishing
black opponents (Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell) who refused to call him
by his Muslim name. Boxing's established old guard felt betrayed and angry
and hoped that he would soon be dethroned. No such luck. Ali was just too
good a fighter. From 1965 to 1967 he defended his title nine times. No
challenger ever came close to defeating him. He was proud of his defensive
skill, often boasting that no one would ever know if he could take a punch
because he did not intend to ever have to prove that he could.

Muhammad Ali, boxer and public figure, had his detractors and his supporters
but whatever criticism and controversy he had encountered in the past was
nothing compared to what was to come. He was about to be thrust onto a stage
much larger than a boxing ring. The turbulent, crazy decade of the 1960s was
about to shift into high gear.

In 1967, with the United States fighting a war in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, the
heavyweight champion of the world, refused to step forward and accept
induction into the Army. Ali, stating that he was a Muslim minister, claimed
conscientious objector status on the grounds that his religion forbade him
to participate in a war. It should be understood that there were already
hundreds of thousands of Americans doing service in the jungles and rice
paddies of Vietnam. Almost 30,000 had already been killed. Ali was denounced
as a draft dodger. Several congressmen took the opportunity to vilify him
and questioned his patriotism and motives.

ESPN Classic events
SportsCentury: Muhammad Ali

Boxing commissions throughout the country were quick to strip him of his
title and suspend his license to box.

Two months later, on June 20, 1967, Ali was convicted of draft evasion and
sentenced to five years in prison.

While Ali was free on bail, pending the appeals process, his lawyers tried
to restore his boxing license. It was to no avail; Ali was a pariah.

But not to everyone.

The controversial war in Vietnam had created an active anti-war movement
comprised mostly of college students. Ali, running low on funds, accepted
invitations to speak on college campuses. The defrocked champion may have
been barley literate but he certainly was not verbally challenged. His
lively lectures were well received. He spoke about his views on race,
religious philosophy, and the war. Since the boxing establishment had
already started the process of crowning a new heavyweight champion Ali
always ended his speeches by asking the audience to tell him who the real
heavyweight champion was. He was obviously pleased to hear the familiar
chant of "Ali, Ali." The counter culture had a new hero.

The country was split between those supporting our efforts in Vietnam and
those opposed to the war. Hawks, doves, hard hats, flower children, black
power, Woodstock, Kent State and the silent majority were bywords for the
most divisive American decade since the American Civil War some 100 years
earlier.

This was also a time of activism and militancy for many black Americans
involved in the civil rights movement, especially after the assassinations
of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

While all this was going on the boxing promoters were conducting a series of
tournaments to find a successor to Muhammad Ali.

Rising to the top of the heavyweight heap like some unstoppable force of
nature was a human wrecking ball named Joe Frazier. He was one of 13
children born dirt-poor on a farm in rural South Carolina. He had come to
Philadelphia as a married 16-year-old and was working in a kosher
slaughterhouse when he first took up boxing. As an amateur Joe won three
Golden Gloves titles and, in 1964, the Olympic heavyweight championship.
Over the next five years, using his feared left hook like a meat cleaver, he
knocked out 23 of 26 opponents.

Frazier was vilified by Ali and many members of the media.
In many ways he was the exact opposite of Ali both in style and personality.
Frazier was a pure puncher. He constantly pressured opponents, hands always
in motion, head down, moving ever forward out of a low crouch and throwing
his destructive left hook out of a bob and weave. He never stopped throwing
punches until his opponent dropped.

It was a style that was meant to vex a stand-up boxer like Ali.

Frazier was a decent, hardworking, law abiding, church going family man, who
was too busy trying to support his growing family to get involved in any
causes.

The anti-Ali crowd had found their man, although Joe did not care to be
looked upon as a symbol of anything other than who he was.

So impressive was Frazier in victory that many fans thought he had a good
chance to defeat Ali on the best day the ex-champion ever saw. Ali
instinctively sensed that this was the perfect opponent for him physically
and psychologically. And even though he now had been out of the ring over
three years he was as confident of victory as was Frazier.

Ali never lost an opportunity to demean and belittle Frazier's ability and
insist that he and not some pretender was the real heavyweight champion. Of
course it was meant to hype the gate for a possible fight. But try as he
might Ali was never able to ruffle Joe's feathers. Smokin' Joe was a cool
customer who was happiest and most comfortable beating up opponents. He
would silence this braggart in the ring. The stage was being set for an epic
confrontation.

It was now the summer of 1970. Ali had not fought in almost 3½ years. Even
if he was allowed to come back how much had the layoff affected his
magnificent skills?

The world was about to find out.

Through a quirky set of circumstances, helped by a changing political
climate and a friendly black state senator, Ali was granted a boxing license
in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places. Not wanting to go in against Frazier
without some tune-up fights, Ali chose to meet the No. 1 contender, Jerry
Quarry, on October 26, 1970 in the 6,000-seat municipal auditorium.

What irony! A controversial black activist and war resister meeting a white
opponent in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the biggest night Atlanta had seen
since the opening of "Gone With The Wind" some 30 years earlier.

The 28-year-old Ali dominated Quarry for the three rounds the fight lasted
until a bad cut over Quarry's left eye forced a stoppage. Although an
impressive victory it was too short a fight to evaluate Ali's true
condition.

Ali's situation was steadily improving. A New York State Judge ruled that
his boxing license had been revoked unfairly and ordered it reinstated. This
opened the way for another tune-up fight in New York against top-rated
contender Oscar Bonavena.

On December 7th, 1970 in New York's Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali
knocked out the awkward and very strong Argentinean in the 15th and final
round for his 30th straight victory. Up until the spectacular knockout it
had been a tough and grueling fight. Boxing people saw that Ali's legs had
slowed down and he did not move with the same fluid speed and accuracy that
he had before his long layoff. But he did win, was still undefeated, and had
three months to prepare for his showdown with Joe Frazier.

The countdown had begun.

The Fight

The match was set for March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Each man was
guaranteed $2.5 million dollars, the largest single payday for any
entertainer or athlete at the time. Tickets to the Garden would be made
available to the general public by mail on a first come first served basis.
Prices in the arena ranged from $20 for a balcony seat to $150 for ringside.
Hundreds of other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada would screen the
fight via closed circuit television to fans paying $5 to $15.

Interest in the event was incredible. Radio, television, and the print media
were filled with stories discussing the upcoming fight. Tension and
anticipation were building by the hour. Few athletic events, be it World
Series, Super Bowl or World Cup, had come even close to generating the type
of excitement and attention that this prizefight was getting.

Fifty countries had purchased rights to the telecast.
Frank Sinatra photographed the fight for Life Magazine.
The fight was broadcast from ringside in 12 different languages. When the
final tallies were added up it was estimated that 300 million people around
the globe had watched the fight. It was the largest audience ever for a
television broadcast up to that time. More people had tuned into the fight
than had watched the moon landing two years before. In the end the fight
grossed between 18 and 20 million dollars word wide of which less than
$1,500,000 came from television money outside the United States and Canada.
But the United States and Canada provided only 1,500,000 viewers.

Although oddsmakers made Frazier a slight 6 to 5 favorite Ali's supporters
were not perturbed. Their belief in him was total. It went beyond his skill
as a boxer. To them he was more than just a boxer-he was a symbol. He could
not lose. Ali agreed and predicted that Frazier "will fall in six."

Ali had an 8½-inch advantage in reach, 4-inches in height (6'3" to 5'11")
and weighed 215 lbs. to Joe's 205½.

The night of the fight was electric. As the fighters made their way towards
the ring hearts pounded and pulses raced. Everyone was on their feet. The
Garden, filled to capacity with 20,455 spectators, was brimming with
celebrities. But not everyone of note was able to get choice seating. Hubert
Humphrey, the ex-vice president of the United States, was sitting in the
mezzanine! Frank Sinatra had one of the best seats in the house. He was
hired by Life Magazine (although he would gladly have paid them for the
privilege) to photograph the fight from the ring apron. The overflow of
stars who couldn't get into the Garden, like Bing Crosby, were to be found
at Radio City Music Hall whose 6,500 seats had sold out three weeks earlier.
Virtually every other closed circuit television location was also filled to
capacity.

While both fighters waited for the introductions Ali, gliding around the
ring, twice brushed Frazier's shoulder as he moved past him. The crowd
reacted with a roar. Frazier glared at Ali contemptuously.

Then the house lights dimmed. The tension was almost unbearable. The fans
were still on their feet when the bell rang. The fight was on!

Joe came out bobbing and weaving, edging in towards Ali, trying to get under
his jab and land the hook to his body or head. Ali was using his footwork to
keep Joe at a distance. But most of his jabs were missing the target as
Frazier's head moved quickly to avoid them. Ali seemed surprised by
Frazier's speed.

By the third round Ali had come off his toes and was fighting
uncharacteristically flatfooted perhaps to save energy. Frazier was setting
an incredible pace. He seemed almost maniacal, throwing more punches in one
round than most heavyweights throw in an entire fight. But Ali was picking
his spots and landing hard counter punches and powerful jabs.

The sixth round came and went and with it Ali's predicted knockout. Frazier
laughed derisively at him at the end of the round.

The fight was being fought with a brutal intensity rarely seen in any
prizefight. Each man was fighting as if he had a point to prove. This was a
genuine grudge match and it was being fought like one.

Ali could not keep up the torrid pace. He was allowing Frazier to pin him
against the ropes, something he would never have done in previous fights. It
appeared that Ali could no longer move with the old speed and lightness of
foot. Even so, as the bell rang for the start of the 11th round, it was
still anybody's fight.

Joe Frazier lands one of his trademark left hooks.
Suddenly, with a minute to go in the round, Frazier caught Ali with a
tremendous left hook to the jaw that caused his knees to sag. He tried to
fool Frazier into thinking he was just playing possum but he was genuinely
hurt. He barley made it to the end of the round. The pace slowed a bit in
the next two rounds as both men seemed to be conserving what energy they had
left for the homestretch. In the 14th round Ali, drawing on some mysterious
inner resource, staged a miraculous comeback and pounded Frazier with some
of his best punches of the fight.

Now entering the final round both men were exhausted but still punching.

And then it happened.

Frazier lashed out with another of his countless left hooks only this one
landed flush on Ali's exposed jaw. He went down hard, flat on his back, legs
in the air. Incredibly Ali bounced up at the count of three and made it to
the final bell.

If anyone still had any doubts as to who deserved to win the fight it was
settled with that one left hook that dropped Ali for only the third time in
his career.

The unanimous decision went to Frazier. He deserved it. But Ali too deserved
the accolades due him for a tremendous effort. No one would ever again
question his ability to take a punch.

The fight ranks as one of boxing's all-time classics.

EPILOGUE: On June 27, 1971, by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Thurgood Marshall
abstaining) the United States Supreme Court cleared Muhammad Ali of the
charge that he refused induction into the Armed Forces.

Michael Silver is a boxing historian, media consultant, and journalist whose
articles on boxing have appeared in numerous publications including Ring
Magazine, Boxing Monthly and the New York Times.

ali frazier march 8 1971
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Hunter S. Thompson       2 PHOTOS 6-5-2016 07:06 AM
https://www.facebook.com/ThePeterAustinNotoShow/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1739366062952031
March 8, 1971
http://espn.go.com/classic/s/silver_ali_frazier.html

It was advertised simply as "THE FIGHT." No other words were necessary. The
stupendous Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier showdown of March 8, 1971 was
perhaps the most anticipated event in all of sports history.

It was a match between two great undefeated heavyweight champions that by
itself would have been enough to capture the attention of millions of fans.
But it was the added dimensions of politics, religion, race, and ego
Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were both undefeated when they met March 8,
1971.
whipped to a frenzy by the most charismatic and controversial athlete of the
20th Century that would capture the attention of hundreds of millions of
people throughout the world, most of whom had never even seen a professional
boxing match.

It was an event that transcended sport.

Boxing, in its naked violently simplistic mano α mano way, was the perfect
metaphor. To the masses Frazier and Ali had come to represent more than
themselves.

It all began innocently enough. Ali, fighting under his given name of
Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic light heavyweight title in 1960 and the
heavyweight championship of the world at the age of 22 by defeating the
seemingly invincible brute Sonny Liston in 1964. Spouting poetry and
predicting the round in which his opponents would fall, the brash youngster
was colorful, engaging, quick witted, and a master showman.

The self-proclaimed "Greatest" was a boxing phenomenon. He had incredibly
fast hands and cat-like reflexes. His handsome face was rarely hit. Clay
personified his motto to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." The
boxing world, indeed the sports world, had never seen anything like him.

But everything changed the day after he won the title. He announced to the
world he was a member of the Black Muslims, a hitherto little known black
separatist movement that practiced the religion of Islam, espoused self help
for the Negro race, and preached that the white man was the devil.

The new champion said that he would no longer be known by his slave name
Cassius Clay. “ I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be
who I want. ”
— Muhammad Ali
He would now be known as Cassius X. He spoke to the assembled reporters but
his words were aimed at the white establishment when he stated that "I don't
have to be what you want me to be. I am free to be who I want."

Three weeks later the leader of the sect, Elijah Mohammed, conferred upon
Cassius X his new Muslim name -- Muhammad Ali.

Ali, backed by the Black Muslims, was announcing to the world that he was
breaking free of the role that had traditionally been assigned to Black
heavyweight champions.

Yet, in many ways, Ali never really stopped being Cassius Clay. He could
still be funny and creative when promoting his fights just as he was before
he won the title. Then again, when preaching Black Muslim dogma, he could be
humorless and truculent even to the point of taunting and cruelly punishing
black opponents (Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell) who refused to call him
by his Muslim name. Boxing's established old guard felt betrayed and angry
and hoped that he would soon be dethroned. No such luck. Ali was just too
good a fighter. From 1965 to 1967 he defended his title nine times. No
challenger ever came close to defeating him. He was proud of his defensive
skill, often boasting that no one would ever know if he could take a punch
because he did not intend to ever have to prove that he could.

Muhammad Ali, boxer and public figure, had his detractors and his supporters
but whatever criticism and controversy he had encountered in the past was
nothing compared to what was to come. He was about to be thrust onto a stage
much larger than a boxing ring. The turbulent, crazy decade of the 1960s was
about to shift into high gear.

In 1967, with the United States fighting a war in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali, the
heavyweight champion of the world, refused to step forward and accept
induction into the Army. Ali, stating that he was a Muslim minister, claimed
conscientious objector status on the grounds that his religion forbade him
to participate in a war. It should be understood that there were already
hundreds of thousands of Americans doing service in the jungles and rice
paddies of Vietnam. Almost 30,000 had already been killed. Ali was denounced
as a draft dodger. Several congressmen took the opportunity to vilify him
and questioned his patriotism and motives.

ESPN Classic events
SportsCentury: Muhammad Ali

Boxing commissions throughout the country were quick to strip him of his
title and suspend his license to box.

Two months later, on June 20, 1967, Ali was convicted of draft evasion and
sentenced to five years in prison.

While Ali was free on bail, pending the appeals process, his lawyers tried
to restore his boxing license. It was to no avail; Ali was a pariah.

But not to everyone.

The controversial war in Vietnam had created an active anti-war movement
comprised mostly of college students. Ali, running low on funds, accepted
invitations to speak on college campuses. The defrocked champion may have
been barley literate but he certainly was not verbally challenged. His
lively lectures were well received. He spoke about his views on race,
religious philosophy, and the war. Since the boxing establishment had
already started the process of crowning a new heavyweight champion Ali
always ended his speeches by asking the audience to tell him who the real
heavyweight champion was. He was obviously pleased to hear the familiar
chant of "Ali, Ali." The counter culture had a new hero.

The country was split between those supporting our efforts in Vietnam and
those opposed to the war. Hawks, doves, hard hats, flower children, black
power, Woodstock, Kent State and the silent majority were bywords for the
most divisive American decade since the American Civil War some 100 years
earlier.

This was also a time of activism and militancy for many black Americans
involved in the civil rights movement, especially after the assassinations
of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

While all this was going on the boxing promoters were conducting a series of
tournaments to find a successor to Muhammad Ali.

Rising to the top of the heavyweight heap like some unstoppable force of
nature was a human wrecking ball named Joe Frazier. He was one of 13
children born dirt-poor on a farm in rural South Carolina. He had come to
Philadelphia as a married 16-year-old and was working in a kosher
slaughterhouse when he first took up boxing. As an amateur Joe won three
Golden Gloves titles and, in 1964, the Olympic heavyweight championship.
Over the next five years, using his feared left hook like a meat cleaver, he
knocked out 23 of 26 opponents.

Frazier was vilified by Ali and many members of the media.
In many ways he was the exact opposite of Ali both in style and personality.
Frazier was a pure puncher. He constantly pressured opponents, hands always
in motion, head down, moving ever forward out of a low crouch and throwing
his destructive left hook out of a bob and weave. He never stopped throwing
punches until his opponent dropped.

It was a style that was meant to vex a stand-up boxer like Ali.

Frazier was a decent, hardworking, law abiding, church going family man, who
was too busy trying to support his growing family to get involved in any
causes.

The anti-Ali crowd had found their man, although Joe did not care to be
looked upon as a symbol of anything other than who he was.

So impressive was Frazier in victory that many fans thought he had a good
chance to defeat Ali on the best day the ex-champion ever saw. Ali
instinctively sensed that this was the perfect opponent for him physically
and psychologically. And even though he now had been out of the ring over
three years he was as confident of victory as was Frazier.

Ali never lost an opportunity to demean and belittle Frazier's ability and
insist that he and not some pretender was the real heavyweight champion. Of
course it was meant to hype the gate for a possible fight. But try as he
might Ali was never able to ruffle Joe's feathers. Smokin' Joe was a cool
customer who was happiest and most comfortable beating up opponents. He
would silence this braggart in the ring. The stage was being set for an epic
confrontation.

It was now the summer of 1970. Ali had not fought in almost 3½ years. Even
if he was allowed to come back how much had the layoff affected his
magnificent skills?

The world was about to find out.

Through a quirky set of circumstances, helped by a changing political
climate and a friendly black state senator, Ali was granted a boxing license
in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places. Not wanting to go in against Frazier
without some tune-up fights, Ali chose to meet the No. 1 contender, Jerry
Quarry, on October 26, 1970 in the 6,000-seat municipal auditorium.

What irony! A controversial black activist and war resister meeting a white
opponent in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the biggest night Atlanta had seen
since the opening of "Gone With The Wind" some 30 years earlier.

The 28-year-old Ali dominated Quarry for the three rounds the fight lasted
until a bad cut over Quarry's left eye forced a stoppage. Although an
impressive victory it was too short a fight to evaluate Ali's true
condition.

Ali's situation was steadily improving. A New York State Judge ruled that
his boxing license had been revoked unfairly and ordered it reinstated. This
opened the way for another tune-up fight in New York against top-rated
contender Oscar Bonavena.

On December 7th, 1970 in New York's Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali
knocked out the awkward and very strong Argentinean in the 15th and final
round for his 30th straight victory. Up until the spectacular knockout it
had been a tough and grueling fight. Boxing people saw that Ali's legs had
slowed down and he did not move with the same fluid speed and accuracy that
he had before his long layoff. But he did win, was still undefeated, and had
three months to prepare for his showdown with Joe Frazier.

The countdown had begun.

The Fight

The match was set for March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Each man was
guaranteed $2.5 million dollars, the largest single payday for any
entertainer or athlete at the time. Tickets to the Garden would be made
available to the general public by mail on a first come first served basis.
Prices in the arena ranged from $20 for a balcony seat to $150 for ringside.
Hundreds of other locations throughout the U.S. and Canada would screen the
fight via closed circuit television to fans paying $5 to $15.

Interest in the event was incredible. Radio, television, and the print media
were filled with stories discussing the upcoming fight. Tension and
anticipation were building by the hour. Few athletic events, be it World
Series, Super Bowl or World Cup, had come even close to generating the type
of excitement and attention that this prizefight was getting.

Fifty countries had purchased rights to the telecast.
Frank Sinatra photographed the fight for Life Magazine.
The fight was broadcast from ringside in 12 different languages. When the
final tallies were added up it was estimated that 300 million people around
the globe had watched the fight. It was the largest audience ever for a
television broadcast up to that time. More people had tuned into the fight
than had watched the moon landing two years before. In the end the fight
grossed between 18 and 20 million dollars word wide of which less than
$1,500,000 came from television money outside the United States and Canada.
But the United States and Canada provided only 1,500,000 viewers.

Although oddsmakers made Frazier a slight 6 to 5 favorite Ali's supporters
were not perturbed. Their belief in him was total. It went beyond his skill
as a boxer. To them he was more than just a boxer-he was a symbol. He could
not lose. Ali agreed and predicted that Frazier "will fall in six."

Ali had an 8½-inch advantage in reach, 4-inches in height (6'3" to 5'11")
and weighed 215 lbs. to Joe's 205½.

The night of the fight was electric. As the fighters made their way towards
the ring hearts pounded and pulses raced. Everyone was on their feet. The
Garden, filled to capacity with 20,455 spectators, was brimming with
celebrities. But not everyone of note was able to get choice seating. Hubert
Humphrey, the ex-vice president of the United States, was sitting in the
mezzanine! Frank Sinatra had one of the best seats in the house. He was
hired by Life Magazine (although he would gladly have paid them for the
privilege) to photograph the fight from the ring apron. The overflow of
stars who couldn't get into the Garden, like Bing Crosby, were to be found
at Radio City Music Hall whose 6,500 seats had sold out three weeks earlier.
Virtually every other closed circuit television location was also filled to
capacity.

While both fighters waited for the introductions Ali, gliding around the
ring, twice brushed Frazier's shoulder as he moved past him. The crowd
reacted with a roar. Frazier glared at Ali contemptuously.

Then the house lights dimmed. The tension was almost unbearable. The fans
were still on their feet when the bell rang. The fight was on!

Joe came out bobbing and weaving, edging in towards Ali, trying to get under
his jab and land the hook to his body or head. Ali was using his footwork to
keep Joe at a distance. But most of his jabs were missing the target as
Frazier's head moved quickly to avoid them. Ali seemed surprised by
Frazier's speed.

By the third round Ali had come off his toes and was fighting
uncharacteristically flatfooted perhaps to save energy. Frazier was setting
an incredible pace. He seemed almost maniacal, throwing more punches in one
round than most heavyweights throw in an entire fight. But Ali was picking
his spots and landing hard counter punches and powerful jabs.

The sixth round came and went and with it Ali's predicted knockout. Frazier
laughed derisively at him at the end of the round.

The fight was being fought with a brutal intensity rarely seen in any
prizefight. Each man was fighting as if he had a point to prove. This was a
genuine grudge match and it was being fought like one.

Ali could not keep up the torrid pace. He was allowing Frazier to pin him
against the ropes, something he would never have done in previous fights. It
appeared that Ali could no longer move with the old speed and lightness of
foot. Even so, as the bell rang for the start of the 11th round, it was
still anybody's fight.

Joe Frazier lands one of his trademark left hooks.
Suddenly, with a minute to go in the round, Frazier caught Ali with a
tremendous left hook to the jaw that caused his knees to sag. He tried to
fool Frazier into thinking he was just playing possum but he was genuinely
hurt. He barley made it to the end of the round. The pace slowed a bit in
the next two rounds as both men seemed to be conserving what energy they had
left for the homestretch. In the 14th round Ali, drawing on some mysterious
inner resource, staged a miraculous comeback and pounded Frazier with some
of his best punches of the fight.

Now entering the final round both men were exhausted but still punching.

And then it happened.

Frazier lashed out with another of his countless left hooks only this one
landed flush on Ali's exposed jaw. He went down hard, flat on his back, legs
in the air. Incredibly Ali bounced up at the count of three and made it to
the final bell.

If anyone still had any doubts as to who deserved to win the fight it was
settled with that one left hook that dropped Ali for only the third time in
his career.

The unanimous decision went to Frazier. He deserved it. But Ali too deserved
the accolades due him for a tremendous effort. No one would ever again
question his ability to take a punch.

The fight ranks as one of boxing's all-time classics.

EPILOGUE: On June 27, 1971, by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Thurgood Marshall
abstaining) the United States Supreme Court cleared Muhammad Ali of the
charge that he refused induction into the Armed Forces.

Michael Silver is a boxing historian, media consultant, and journalist whose
articles on boxing have appeared in numerous publications including Ring
Magazine, Boxing Monthly and the New York Times.

ali frazier march 8 1971
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Elliot Harrison       paustinnoto@gmail.com 3-8-2019 08:07 AM
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, billed as Fight of the Century[2] (also known as The Fight), was the boxing match between WBC/WBA heavyweight champion Joe Frazier (26–0, 23 KOs) and The Ring/lineal heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (31–0, 25 KOs), held on Monday, March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[3][4][5] It was the first time that two undefeated boxers fought each other for the heavyweight title. Frazier won in 15 rounds via unanimous decision. It was the first of a trilogy, followed by the rematch fights Super Fight II (1974) and Thrilla in Manila (1975), both won by Ali.

Contents
1
Background and cultural significance
2
Fight
2.1
Scorecard
3
Viewership and revenue
4
Aftermath
4.1
COINTELPRO
5
See also
6
References
7
External links
Background and cultural significance[edit]
In 1971, both Ali and Frazier had legitimate claims to the title of World Heavyweight Champion. An undefeated Ali had won the title from Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964, and successfully defended his belt up until he had it stripped by boxing authorities for refusing induction into the armed forces in 1967. In Ali's absence, the undefeated Frazier garnered two championship belts through knockouts of Buster Mathis and Jimmy Ellis. He was recognized by boxing authorities as the World Champion. Unlike Mathis and Ellis, Frazier was plausibly Ali's superior, which created a tremendous amount of hype and anticipation for a match pitting the two undefeated fighters against one another to decide who was the true heavyweight champ.[6]
Ringside seats were $150 (equivalent to $928 in 2018) and each man was guaranteed 2.5 million dollars. In addition to the millions who watched on closed-circuit broadcast screens around the world, the Garden was packed with a sellout crowd of 20,455 that provided a gate of $1.5 million.[7]
Prior to his enforced layoff, Ali had displayed uncommon speed and dexterity for a man of his size. He had dominated most of his opponents to the point that he had often predicted the round in which he would knock them out. However, in the fight preceding the Frazier fight, Ali struggled at times during his 15th-round TKO of Oscar Bonavena, an unorthodox Argentinian fighter who was prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Gil Clancy.[8]
Frazier had an outstanding left hook, and was a tenacious competitor who attacked the body of his opponent ferociously. Despite suffering from a serious bout of hypertension in the lead-up to the fight, he appeared to be in top form as the face-off between the two undefeated champions approached.[6]
The fight held broader meaning for many Americans, as Ali had become a symbol of the left-wing anti-establishment movement during his government-imposed exile from the ring,[9] while Frazier had been adopted by the conservative, pro-war movement. According to the 2009 documentary Thriller in Manila, the match, which had been dubbed "The Fight", "gripped the nation.[10] "Just listen to the roar of this crowd!" thundered Burt Lancaster, the color man. "The tension, and the excitement here, is monumental!"[11]
The bout was noted for its general appeal with non-boxing and non-sport fans holding an impassioned rooting interest in one of the fighters. Mark Kram wrote in Sports Illustrated:
The thrust of this fight on the public consciousness is incalculable. It has been a ceaseless whir that seems to have grown in decibel with each new soliloquy by Ali, with each dead calm promise by Frazier. It has magnetized the imagination of ring theorists, and flushed out polemicists of every persuasion. It has cut deep into the thicket of our national attitudes, and it is a conversational imperative everywhere—from the gabble of big-city salons and factory lunch breaks rife with unreasoning labels, to ghetto saloons with their own false labels.[12]
Fight[edit]
On the evening of the match, Madison Square Garden had a circus-like atmosphere, with scores of policemen to control the crowd, outrageously dressed fans, and countless celebrities, from Norman Mailer and Woody Allen to Frank Sinatra, who, after being unable to procure a ringside seat, took photographs for Life magazine instead. Artist LeRoy Neiman painted Ali and Frazier as they fought. Burt Lancaster served as a color commentator for the closed-circuit broadcast. Though Lancaster had never performed as a sports commentator before, he was hired by the fight's promoter, Jerry Perenchio, who was also a friend. The other commentators were play-by-play announcer Don Dunphy and boxing champion Archie Moore.[citation needed] The fight was sold to, and broadcast by closed circuit, to 50 countries in 12 languages via ringside reporters to an audience estimated at 300 million, a record viewership for a television event at that time. Riots broke out at several venues as unresolvable technical issues interrupted the broadcast in several cities in the third round.[13] The referee for the fight was Arthur Mercante, Sr. After the fight, Mercante, a veteran referee of hundreds of fights, said "They both threw some of the best punches I've ever seen."[14]
The fight itself exceeded even its promotional hype and went the full 15-round championship distance.[15] Ali dominated the first three rounds, peppering the shorter Frazier with rapier-like jabs that raised welts on the champion's face. In the closing seconds of round three, Frazier connected with a tremendous hook to Ali's jaw, snapping his head back. Frazier began to dominate in the fourth round, catching Ali with several of his famed left hooks and pinning him against the ropes to deliver tremendous body blows.
Ali was visibly tired after the sixth round, and though he put together some flurries of punches after that round, he was unable to keep the pace he had set in the first third of the fight. At 1 minute and 59 seconds into round eight, following his clean left hook to Ali's right jaw, Frazier grabbed Ali's wrists and swung Ali into the center of the ring; however, Ali immediately grabbed Frazier again until they were once again separated by Mercante.
Frazier caught Ali with a left hook at nine seconds into round 11. A fraction of a second later, Ali fell with both gloves and his right knee on the canvas. Mercante stepped between Ali and Frazier, separating them as Ali rose from the canvas. Mercante wiped Ali's gloves but failed to call the knockdown. At 18 seconds into round 11, Mercante signaled the fighters to engage once again. Round 11 wound down with Frazier staggering Ali with a left hook. Ali stumbled and grabbed at Frazier to keep his balance and finally stumbled back first to the ropes before bouncing forward again to Frazier and grabbing on to Frazier until the fighters were separated by Mercante at 2:55 into the round. Ali spent the remaining 5 seconds of round 11 making his way back to his corner.
At the end of round 14 Frazier held a lead on all three scorecards (by scores of 8–6–0, 10–4–0, and 8–6–0). Early in round 15, Frazier landed a left hook that put Ali on his back. Ali, his jaw swollen grotesquely, got up from the blow quickly, and managed to stay on his feet for the rest of the round despite several terrific blows from Frazier. A few minutes later the judges made it official: Frazier had retained the title with a unanimous decision, dealing Ali his first professional loss.[16]
Scorecard[edit]
Round
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Total [5]
Artie Aidala (judge)
A
A
F
F
F
F
F
A
A
F
F
F
A
A
F
Frazier, 9–6–0
Bill Recht (judge)
F
A
F
F
A
F
F
F
A
F
F
F
F
A
F
Frazier, 11–4–0
Art Mercante (referee)
A
A
F
F
F
A
A
F
A
A
F
F
F
F
F
Frazier, 9–6–0
22 of the 25 sports writers also gave the fight to Frazier.
Viewership and revenue[edit]
The fight was broadcast live pay-per-view on theatre television in the United States, where it set a record with 2.5 million buys at closed-circuit venues,[17] grossing $45 million.[18] It was also shown closed-circuit during the middle of the night in London theatres, where it set a record with 90,000 buys,[19] grossing $750,000.[20] Combined, the fight sold 2.59 million buys in the United States and London, grossing $45.75 million (inflation-adjusted $300 million).
On both closed-circuit and free television, the fight was watched by a record 300 million viewers worldwide.[21] It was watched by a record 27.5 million viewers on BBC1 in the United Kingdom, about half of the British population.[22] It was also watched by an estimated 54 million viewers in Italy,[23] and 2 million viewers in South Korea.[24]
Aftermath[edit]
Frazier surrendered his title 22 months later, when on January 22, 1973, he was knocked out by George Foreman in the second round of their brief but devastating title bout in Kingston, Jamaica.[25][26]
Ali, for his part, refused to publicly admit defeat and sought to define the outcome in the public's mind as a "White Man's Decision". He split two bouts with Ken Norton in 1973, and was viewed by many as on a downward slide before a win in a rematch with Frazier in January 1974. Ali later went on to defeat Frazier in their third and final bout, The Thrilla in Manila. By the time of the rematches the social climate in America had settled down, with the Vietnam War coming to an end. Many dismissed the notion that Ali was a traitor and he was once again accepted as an American hero. Without either fighter representing the social divide in the country, neither their second nor third fight lived up to the hype of the first.[27] Ali shocked the world for a second time with a victory in October 1974 over the heavily favored Foreman to regain the heavyweight title in The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.[10]
Ali biographer Wilfrid Sheed wrote of the fight:
Both men left the ring changed men that night. For Frazier, his greatness was gone, that unquantifiable combination of youth, ability and desire. For Ali, the public hatred he had so carefully nursed to his advantage came to a head and burst that night and has never been the same. To his supporters he became a cultural hero. His detractors finally gave him grudging respect. At least they had seen him beaten and seen that smug look wiped off his face.[28]
COINTELPRO[edit]
The fight provided cover for an activist group, the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, to successfully pull off a burglary at an FBI office in Pennsylvania, which exposed the COINTELPRO operations that included illegal spying on activists involved with the civil rights and anti-war movements. One of the COINTELPRO targets was Muhammad Ali, which included the FBI gaining access to his records as far back as elementary school.[29]
KELLY STAR       paustinnoto@gmail.com 3-8-2019 09:55 AM
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