Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Fight of the Twentieth Century; or, The Battle of Champions












Taking a break from the present, I found a ticket dated March 8, 1971, saved from when my Dad took me over to Raleigh, North Carolina, to see "THE BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS" on large closed circuit TV at Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University Campus. The champions in question were Muhammad Ali and Smokin' Joe Frazier. What I remember was: the palpable excitement, my Dad favoring Frazier because of his Philadelphia connections, and Frazier winning after fifteen tough rounds of mutual Frazier-Ali bashing. It was amazing to experience, and both men came off memorably well (hell -- here I am fondly writing about it thirty-seven -- yes, 37 -- years later . . .)














What I didn't know then was that Ali had to contest for the championship because he'd had his title taken away for protesting Vietnam, for refusing to go to an unpopular war (good God, the more things change . . .). I also had no idea at the time that many of my subsequently favorite artistes were at the actual ringside in Madison Square Garden, cool cats as widely ranged as Woody Allen and Frank Sinatra (gee, was Mia Farrow there?), Norman Mailer and Burt Lancaster.

Glad that both Ali and Frazier are still alive and in their mid-sixties, about the same age as many of my favorite rock stars from the 1960s and 70s . . .

Today's Rune: Fertility.

5 comments:

Bubs said...

What a cool piece of memorabilia to find. I have such good memories of watching fights back then with my grandfather, who was a huge Ali fan going back to his Golden Gloves days in Louisville. He was the only white person I remember back then who liked Ali after he changed his name and lost his title.

the walking man said...

37 short years Erik, 37 short years.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've seen that fight in replays and it was a pretty good one.

luzdeluma said...

Good Erik memories and I also wait they have them! Good weekend! Beijus

Johnny Yen said...

I remember listening to that fight on the radio. Everybody at school had a favorite; mine was Joe Frazier. I found Ali to be a bigmouth. Over the years I've come to respect him for what he did- refuse induction into the Army on moral grounds.

I loved George Carlin's take on it all: Ali said "I'll beat people up, but I won't kill 'em!"