ESPN: An Audience With Muhammad Ali- From 1974

The Greatest Performer of All-Time?
The Greatest Performer of All-Time?

Source: ESPN: An Audience With Muhammad Ali- From 1974

Muhammad Ali, perhaps at his most popular and highest peak professionally in 1974. Now seemed more as a mainstream figure and perhaps less as a rebel, or some Black Power figure or something. He’s not the most recognizable and most popular athlete in the world forty-years ago and today just because African-Americans, Native-Africans and Muslims regardless of race, or ethnicity love him. He became more of a mainstream figure in the mid 1970s as more Americans especially got to know him, but he moderated as well and said less derogatory things about Caucasians and the establishment. And more people got to see how intelligent and the great comedic wit and acting ability that he had as well.

Muhammad, was certainly a member of the TV Generation and was perfect for it and came up during the perfect time for him. That is why he’s so famous, because he came up when network TV was so crucial and dominant and had the perfect personality for it. Someone who was very bright and knew exactly what he was talking about, but also someone who was very funny and entertaining and people simply loved him and still do for it. This is in late 1974 and he Muhammad fought Joe Frazier for the third and final time about a year later. And you hear Ali talking about Frazier, because that is the fight people wanted to see again. And Smokin Joe wanted another shot at Ali and regain the World Heavyweight Championship. And Ali probably wanted to beat Joe Frazier again.

Muhammad Ali as a politician? I hate to do this as a great of an athlete and in many ways as a man he was, I could see him as the Donald Trump of the 1970s or 80s had he not come down from Parkinson’s. As he said himself as a non-politician he was free to say whatever he feels and believes and even the truth. You can’t do that as a politician and expect to be reelected. You have to be more careful and target what you say and how you say it. One of the reasons why Donald Trump has never been elected to anything is because he’s unelectable. He’s done the best Mitt Romney impersonation you’ll ever see by being multiple choice on so many key issues. Muhammad was always better off being free and out of elected office and being exactly who he was. Not feeling the need to have to please people.

Rick Wharton: HBO Sports: Thrilla In Manila Documentary: The Heavyweight Battle of The Century

Ali-Frazier III
Ali-Frazier III

Source: Rick Wharton: HBO Sports: Thrilla In Manila Documentary: The Heavyweight Battle of The Century

I’m not a boxing expert and don’t pretend to be one and I haven’t followed boxing very closely for almost twenty-years now since the heavyweight division went into the toilet as if it was flushed down. But The Thrilla in Manila at least to me is at the very least the best heavyweight division fight of all-time. It represents the best and the worst of boxing. Two big strong men literally beating the hell out of each other. In a way it was like an Old West shootout where the last man standing won. But even Old West shootouts generally had winners. This fight was more like a divorce. Where there wasn’t real winner. Just a survivor who was slightly better off than the man he beat. This fight was only stopped, because Joe Frazier was literally blind at the end of it. Thats how much this fight took out of both men.

The Thrilla in Manila was the last fight in the greatest trilogy again at least in the heavyweight division. Which is the only division in boxing that I follow at all. Smokin Joe won the first fight in 1971 and Muhammad won the second fight in 73 and beat the man who beat Joe for the heavyweight championship in 1974, which of course was George Forman. So yes the third fight was again for the Heavyweight Championship of the World for the second time and Joe wanted it back. But as they said in this film The Thrilla in Manila was about the World Heavyweight Championship of each other. The right to say that they were better than the other. That they were the best heavyweight of their generation and of the 1970s. You could still argue about Larry Holmes, but they both would’ve had a good case had they won this fight.

The Thrilla in Manila looks like to me what it would have been like had Germany fought Japan at the end of World War II. Imagine had they destroyed each other during that war instead of getting their assess handed to them by America and the Western Allies and literally destroyed each other, but didn’t know how to give up. And kept going on until neither one had one fighter and one weapon left. That is what this fight was like. Two big strong men beating the hell out of each other until one literally couldn’t take it anymore and was literally knocked out, or gave up. That is why I say this fight represents boxing at its best and worst. Two guys in the primes giving everything they had against the other, but beating each other up so much that they caused real physical damage to the other.