11 November 2011

Something 4 The Weekend # 226

Seam: The Pace Is Glacial: "The Prizefighters" [mp3]

There was a huge story in athletics this past week that was unfortunately eclipsed by an even bigger sports story. I'm talking about the passing of Smokin' Joe Frazier, of course, one of boxing's greatest heavyweight champions, who succumbed to liver cancer on Monday at the age of 67.

And just as his death this week was eclipsed by the horrific news coming out of Penn State, so too was Frazier's career overshadowed by Muhammad Ali's. The two battled three times, with Frazier winning the first match at Madison Square Garden, losing a rematch again at MSG, and finally and famously losing their third match, the legendary "Thrilla In Manila" bout of 1973.

Boxing skills aside, Frazier was overshadowed in the popular culture by Ali's outrageous and outspoken personality. Even this blog post can't escape Cassius Clay. It didn't help that Ali called Frazier an "Uncle Tom" and "a gorilla" in the media, nevermind that Ali was more warmly embraced by the white community, and himself seemed more willing to "play to" the white community than Frazier. And all of this after Frazier had strongly supported efforts to get Ali's boxing license reinstated, and had even given Ali financial support. In short, Ali was a total dick towards Frazier.

In any event, the "Thrilla In Manila" certainly lived up to it's advanced billing, being rightfully considered one of the very best boxing matches of all time, and perhaps the greatest heavyweight bout ever. Both men took absolutely brutal poundings, but one might say Frazier was nearly beaten to death and not be exaggerating.

Rest in peace, Smokin' Joe. When you were good, you were truly one of the greats.

Hotcha! Hank

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