Boxing, Don King, Hon Elijah Muhammad, Joe Frazier, Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali, Nation of Islam, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Vietnam War

The Fight That Was The Beginning And The End Of Heavyweight Boxing


The Fight That Was The Beginning And The End Of Heavyweight Boxing

It’s hard to believe that it has been forty years since the first of their trilogy of legendary fights that took place between then reigning world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and challenger Muhammad Ali . On the 8th March 1971 it was then the biggest fight in boxing history and the newly released Muhammad Ali would challenge Frazier for his title at Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . Premium seat tickets at the time were sold at the unheard of price of $150-00 apiece . Today $150 at a marquee PPV  (pay per view ) title fight wouldn’t even place you within 100 feet of the boxing ring. ==============================================================================

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Ali had just been released from prison as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and be that as it may he took his stance on a principal which was a great deal more than those who simply chose to evade not serving their country by fleeing the US to places such as Canada , Mexico and even Europe having had their callup from the US military as part of the military draft. That fight itself would largely introduce the world to Don King as a boxing promoter as it was he who promoted that fight and many of the others that had covered Ali’s career over the years. Apart from being a promoter at the time King also was a manager and the ultimate showman . His panache for the extraordinary as well as the ridiculous became a selling point that simply had the fans wanting more . And with Ali as his primary box office draw both would paydirt ;over the ensuing years as the promoter tied his sail to Ali’s mast , even though Ali was managed and trained at the time by Angelo Dundee .

Ali’s three and a half layoff away from the sport enforced upon him after his sentence was seen in some circles as unjust , whereas others viewed it as appropriate even though at the height of this , much of the hypocrisy was still going on as it regard the rights of African Americans within the country . Many would like to have seen him still incarcerated at the time but with him having served more than half his sentence and with it being challenged within the justice system , his release after a successful appeal saw him return to his chosen career. Going into the the fight as the underdog many believed that the former champion who’d been stripped of his title stood a remote chance of winning against one of the most feared boxers of the era . Frazier was nobody’s fool in the ring and his plan was simple ………. knock you out or be knocked out.

The fight itself was well marketed by Don King and his associates and the fact that it was televised made the event all the more special at the time. Now in this day and a fight of this magnitude can only be seen the vast majority of the public and fight via PPV , and at an exorbitant cost I might add ! In light of that fact and with the whole world wanting to see and what to make of Ali’s return to the ring the stage was set for a fight that many believe would not have come about. We all knew of Ali’s repartee` and the fact that he was the first real trash talker within the world of sports and boxing . He’d usually make light of an opponent, more so to get under their skin more than anything else . And often that trash talking worked , as it made an opponent feel ill at ease even before entering into the ring. It was something that’d later be followed up by a young champion within the division that many would either come to love or hate and that would be Mike Tyson . A fighter’s career who we’d all at one time or another would come to follow with a great deal of expectation even if in the end we’d come to despise what he would indeed come to stand for because of his demeanor in and outside of the ring. Tyson despite his character flaws may well go down as one of the greatest heavyweights ever in the history of boxing . As to where he’d stand amongst the all time greats within the category and in the annals of boxing itself, who’s to really say ? We can only really judge the fighter from his record in the ring and the accomplishments achieved there.

The Ali Frazier fight was referee’d by veteran fight referee Arthur Mercante Sr whose acumen within the ring as an official was respected the world over. And the fight itself wasn’t without controversy from the start in spite of the protests from those who felt aggrieved that a draft dodger was being given legitimacy to resurrect his professional career while American military fighting men were laying down their lives in the sacrifice of their country. If there was anything to be learned from this era it was that the country wasn’t merely just divided along social line but still very much to an extent along racial lines as well. And it certainly hadn’t helped that Ali having converted to Islam was also seen as something of a demagogue and a radical. The Nation of Islam had made its presence felt , albeit that one of its most prominent voices Malcolm X had long since departed at the hands of an assassin’s bullets. The fact of the matter was that the outspoken Ali a staunch supporter of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad , leader of of the Nation of Islam took his vows seriously as a convert to Islam and would as such show his devout faith to the religion . That alone simply flew in the face of ‘White America’ and all that it stood for at the time . In retrospect things haven’t changed all that much when one thinks about the whole xenophobic intolerance now being shown towards Muslims of any creed be they Arabs or otherwise. They’re in large part viewed as jihadists  whose sole wish is to see the death and destruction of America ……………… but in all sincerity it’s no different to the intolerance also being espoused by alleged Christians who sit in judgment upon US military servicemen who’ve died in vain serving this country in two wars now being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq .

The fight itself took on an intensity all of its own with Ali having lost some of his quickness he made up for with a certain amount of guile within the ring . Frazier for his part took the fight to Ali right from the start looking to wear down the challenger with whatever shots he could take aim with at his opponent. Hooks to the head and body were thrown with devastating effectiveness and he would catch Ali off guard several times in the earlier rounds of the bout. There were those who felt at the time , if Ali could withstand those first five or six rounds of this fifteen round battle then in the latter part of this fight he could very well prevail if his stamina didn’t let him down. The early rounds, both men sought to use their respective skills to outdo each other , Ali with his legendary right jabs , swift movement when needed and Frazier with his equally stunning body shots . Each would make their mark and it wasn’t long before the fans knew that this bout wasn’t simply just any other title fight but something special in the making .

In fact the trilogy of fights between the two have stood the test of time and if anything are the fights which all else are judged by down the years to this day. These fights spoke not only about the greatness of Ali but also the respect which Frazier would later be held by his former nemesis and now close friend. There may well have been a great dislike between the two at the time as to what they each respectively meant to the fans of that era but there’s no denying that both men served the sport well with their prowess and appeal. The latter rounds of this bout would prove fortuitous for the champion as we would begin to see the challenger grow weary due to the lack of stamina and the fact that Frazier’s punches were beginning to take its toll on Ali . Certainly through rounds eleven through fourteen that was most certainly the case as the challenger was repeatedly caught with several devastating blows that many other fighters would not have withstood. But this was what separated Ali the fighter from any other heavyweight of his era or since , he could withstand an amazing amount of punishment and still make light of it and come back and actually eke out a win. However on this night it wasn’t to be as Joe Frazier would have the final say with the punch that would effectively seal the fight for him when in the final thirty seconds of round fifteen he would knock Ali down to the canvas for the first time of his professional career with a devastating right hook. The stunned crowd at Madison Square Garden and those watching around the globe must surely have been shocked by what they’d just witnessed but in essence it shouldn’t have really come as a surprise to anyone who was on hand for this bout.

Inasmuch one may well expected Ali to pull off the upset it was far too much to ask of the fighter who’d been away from the ring for over 3 1/2 years for anyone to have expected to overcome ring rust and effectively regain his sharpness on the way to regaining the world heavyweight title. The two more fights within this trilogy over the ensuing year of both fighters’ careers would come to define the best that heavyweight boxing had to offer at the time. Ever since then the sport of boxing has long yearned for an undisputed heavyweight champion who was as dominant as Ali over the course of his career. We have had champions , undisputed within the division but none as dominant or more of a showman than Muhammad Ali was in his prime. You may agree or disagree with that statement but his record does speak for itself. What other fighter of that generation or since can one actually say that about within the heavyweight division of boxing much less any other division for that matter ?

In truth the sport of boxing now seems to be on its last legs and even though we now have Manny Pacquiao  reigning over the sport as its best pound for pound fighter, it has to be said that Pacquaio is now in the waning moments of an esteemed career with very little else left to prove . He now takes fights merely for the sake of taking them against opponents who aren’t really that much of a challenge for him . Within the heavyweight division itself the champions there are merely fighting to be recognition and have little talent if a modicum at best of what can be described as the worse era of heavyweight boxing in the annals of the sport’s history. To put it bluntly I’d rather not even bother to actually mention the names of the actual title holders , simply out of respect to you all because I personally don’t believe that you actually want to be bored with that fact at all ! Suffice to say , you can simply Google words present world heavyweight champion and find those very names out for yourselves.

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What thoughts if any do you have on the careers of both Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier as professional fighters and where would you rank them amongst the all time greats within the heavyweight division of boxing during the modern era and pre modern era ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on this topic and anything related to the sport of boxing and I’ll do my utmost to respond to your comments in a timely and orderly manner ! Thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Frazier (right) connects with a right to the jaw of Ali in their world heavyweight title fight at Madison Square Garden in March of 1971. The two would later go on to fight two more times in their storied careers that’s now intertwined forever because of the trilogy. David Hume Kennerley  @ copyrighted material all rights reserved

(2) Ali takes a left hook from Frazier that would send him to the canvas in the fifteenth and final round of their WBA WBC world heavyweight title fight. Referee Arthur Mercante would convene the mandatory count which the challenger would beat to resume the fight in the dying seconds of that final round. Corbis Images @ copyrighted material …… all rights reserved .

(3) Ali seen here falling to the canvas after the left hook thrown by champion in the 15th round of their now classic world title fight . David Hume Kennerley @ copyrighted material ……..

(4 This color perspective from the cover of Sports Illustrated captures the emotion of the event at Madison Square Garden as Frazier lands the left hook that immediately sends Ali the challenger to the canvas of their world heavyweight title fight. Tony Triolo / SI ……….

(5) The two former pugilists Joe Frazier (left) and Ali seen here are now firm friends . Ali now suffering from Parkinsons Disease now converses through an intermediary or tries to respond by drawing somewhat childlike pictures in order to communicate . Steve Kranitz/ Wire Images Inc. …….

(6) Don King seated (left) is seen here with Joe Frazier and the convened press to publicize his fight with Muhammad Ali which was held at the Araneta Coliseum , Metro City, Manila , Philippines . The fight would come to be simply known as “The Thriller In Manila” for which the champion would lose his title to Ali , having to retire in the fourteenth round of their fifteen round title fight. AP/Reuters/ Ronaldo Massaquoi ……………..

(7) Referee Arthur Mercante Sr guides Joe Frazier to a neutral corner before beginning his mandatory count over Ali seen here lying on the canvas in his world heavyweight title attempt to win back the title from then champion , Joe Frazier . AP Photo/ Nicholas Neville ………….

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Alan aka tophatal  http://tophatal.wordpress.com/ Joe Frazier’s career record 32 (27 KO’s) -4-1  Muhammad Ali’s career record 56 (37 KO’s) -5-0  Ali vs Frazier Verdict unanimous 15 round majority decision Frazier. Titles at stake WBA & WBC heavyweight titles for the then undisputed champion Judges : Bill Recht  , Artie Aidala and Arthur Mercante …….. Referee: Arthur Mercante

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Curtis Mayfield ……………”People Get Ready ” . Don’t hate appreciate ! =============================================================================

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DeMaurice Smith, Drew Brees, Labor Disputes, NFL, NFL Lockout, NFLPA, Peyton Manning, Sports, Tom Brady

It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It …….. That’s What It’s All About ….


It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It …….. That’s What It’s All About ….

Well it has come about and the NFL has now its first work stoppage in almost twenty five years. In not being able to reach an amicable agreement at the twelfth hour having twice extended the cba — ( collective bargaining agreement) for which its expiry date was midnight Thursday 10th March , on Friday at 5 pm NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in agreement with the NFL owners issued a public statement saying that there would indeed be a labor stoppage. In effect the 2011-12 season now becomes null and void pending any foreseeable changes in the future.

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Goodell’s counterpart NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith held his ground saying that unless the owners were prepared to accede to their wishes of opening up their books for further scrutiny then there could not be in clear conscience any reason to proceed with the deliberations and mediation that was being overseen by FMCS Director George Cohen . NFL Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash expressed his disappointment with the union’s position stating that the best place to conduct the proceedings is at the negotiation table and not the legal system. However for their part the NFL knew full well that all avenues would be sought by the union from the outset and that was the sole purpose of the union decertifying itself in order to take legal recourse against the NFL in the US Federal Court System challenging their antitrust status . With that process quite possibly taking some time before a trial date can be set three of the game’s most widely recognized players have lodged an injunction against the NFL seeking to stop the lockout now being instigated by the league.

Tom Brady , Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have filed a motion in the US Federal Court to overturn the NFL’s decision . But it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be successful in their challenge pending a court decision by a Federal Court judge. . The two sides at this juncture remain so far apart that one cannot but question the fact that there was little else that one could have expected but for there to be some sort of inaction leading to the present situation. At the crux of it all was how much the NFLPA was willing to concede to the demands of the league without the NFL or owners actually giving that much up in return.

Many fans in and outside of the game have stated their wish to see some sort of settlement in place that would be of benefit to both sides while others simply wanted a lockout not realizing the harm that it would actually do within each of the markets where the NFL has a presence. Many have said it won’t actually do that much damage but bear this in mind a prolonged lockout not only harms the image of both the union and the NFL but it now creates widespread uncertainty and an economic collapse within NFL market place in terms of the local communities. For stadiums that are owned by the municipalities they now see another revenue source completely dry up and a further hindrance to their already tenuous existence in terms of the budgetary expenditure. Those communities with the economic impact of the NFL will lose in excess of $5-$7 billion . That sum doesn’t include direct revenues to the NFL itself but merely within the economic market place of those cities where the NFL is present. I’ve had one patron state that the NFL doesn’t add any presence to a community at large in terms of what it gives back . But the fact of the matter that statement comes from a person whose business acumen at best is probably marginal. With that now comes the fact that there are likely to be 100,000 jobs at risk through various sectors of the community , small by comparison when one thinks that labor force is of the nation is 145 million people and of which there are now approximately almost 14 million unemployed in the nation as a whole . Those jobs in question range from the parking attendants at the grounds to those within the hospitality , retail industry and numerous large and small business that rely on the NFL on game day in terms of business. But you’d be hard pressed to actually persuade an individual to believe that when their view of the situation is so myopic and in essence they merely don’t look at the overall big picture .

Stadiums that are municipally owned creat a deal of revenue for the cities in question during the regular NFL season with that comes a source of funds that in part can go towards improving services and the infrasttucture when spent prudently. The fact of the matter is given the dire straights of cities where the NFL has a presence any form of a financial hindrance in the present economic climate doesn’t help at all , in spite of claims being made to the contrary. One only has to look at the idiotic claims that were being made after the government bailout of the domestic automotive industry. Had both GM and Chrysler been allowed to fail the entire work force of both companies as well as another 2,500,000 jobs tied to the industry would have been at risk as well as the financial outlay that every taxpayer in the country would have to incur with the fact that both companies would then pass on their pension obligations to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation which would have to pay the pension benefits of current and former employees of both companies after their failure. That agency (PBGC) is a government ran concern that insures the pension benefits of employees of public companies that have dissolved into bankruptcy.

Even though the NFL is a private enterprise it doesn’t negate the fact that this stoppage will have still have an adverse effect on the economy. And when one considers that a government agency was asked to intercede in this situation it only adds to a situation that was very serious to begin with . Both sides have been culpable and the fact that the intransigence shown each side has bordered on being ridiculous and infantile only adds to the fact that there was such a gigantic impasse between the two .

To my mind, the real issue from the beginning was the NFL’s unwillingness to deal squarely with their own culpability in not reining in their expenses. There were so reliant on their corporate patrons tie in with the major broadcast networks in terms of television rights that they simply forgot that there always tends to be an economic downturn and that one ought to plan ahead rather than simply spending well beyond one’s means. And now that they’ve found themselves in the midst of a crisis which they as such help create through their own greed and then simply allowing the union to wield an axe over their head they’ve now resorted to an act that’s not liable to win them any friends at all. The union for its part also has to accept a great deal of responsibility for this mess and not solely lay the blame at upon the NFL hierarchy. NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and Executive Committe member Charlie Batch have gone on record as saying that they’re quite prepared to return to the negotiating table so long as the NFL is prepared to work judiciously towards a proposal that is equitable for all sides in this process. Somehow I ask myself how the hell can they simply not work this out given the fact that at stake here beyond a $ 9 billion a year industry you also have the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people who are reliant upon the NFL for a living . Never mind the cities who now may well have to look at other means of making up for the loss revenues that the NFL places in their coffers each regular season game.

Added into this mix we now have the broadcast and radio networks who also provide coverage of the NFL and how they now go about making up for the losses that they’re now liable to incur. ABC/ESPN , Fox , NBC , CBS and the NFL’s own NFL Network are able to charge advertisers premium ad rates during televised games and with there now in all likelihood being no regular televised season there now sits an empty void within their respective television schedules . Without those revenues we may well see some sort of curtailment as to the content in terms of programming provided up to a point. This now becomes another one of the ramifications of this proposed work stoppage and the ensuing fallout from it all.

For the team owners such as Jerry Jones , Robert Kraft , Al Davis , Art Rooney II , Pat Bowlen and Woody Johnson it remains to be seen whether or not they have the presence of mind to rethink their present stance and relay that to Roger Goodell , rather than the intransigence that’s now being shown by the league and owners . It certainly begs the question was Roger Goodell simply outwitted by his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith or was he merely that naive to think that the league and owners as such, had the upper hand ? Somehow I get the feeling that Goodell’s predecessor Paul Tagliabue would certainly not have taken this stance even at the wish of the owners . And therein lies the difference between the two , as Goodell is beholding to the owners even if they are as such , his employer , that he’s simply forgotten that even with their input he too has to provide some semblance of common sense in the midst of the dissension taking place. Instead I get the impression that the NFL Commissioner is way in over his head ! I’ve said this one of my patrons concerning Roger Goodell and how he conducts himself in public as the executive face of the NFL . To my mind while he gives of the air of someone who appears to self assured , I can’t help but wonder whether or not he’s actually capable of pleading a case on its merits ! Certainly any counsel that he’s been provided with over the course of these deliberations has been nowhere near good enough and the PR battle that the league waged , was a losing effort in the way they tried to effectively communicate with the press and public at large.

At times watching Roger Goodell take the dais to give a speech with regard to the NFL is akin to watching a politician give you the latest updates as it relates to a particular piece of legislation up for a vote within the Congress. More often than not they tend to use far y too many words when just a few will just do nicely.

The image of both the NFL and NFLPA has now sank to an all time low and in the advent of this being the first stoppage that the game has had since 1987 I get the impression that the inevitability about this action would have happened no matter what the issues were from the outset. At no time during the start of this process when the league first chose to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement did I for one really feel that either side wanted to actually reach an amicable settlement. There was a war of words from the start and in terms of attrition , well neither side was really up to the task of working out their differences as it related to the issues. If that were the case then surely they would have met far more frequently over the ensuing months after last September when the league issued its statement that they would indeed opt out of the collective bargaining agreement that was due to expire on the 3rd March 2011 , but then was extended to its last deadline of the 10th March. From November until the federally appointed mediator intervened the two sides had only met formally twice and the informal meetings between the two sides were usually conducted between subordinates of both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. And in reality those informal meetings were never productive or actually offered any real insight as to what was really happening between the two sides. Need I really say that there was in effect a pissing contest going on between these two leaders ?

Now we’ll have the tv pundits offering their insights with their own so called sources of information letting us know what the real impasse between the two sides was really about. But let’s be really blunt here …………….. for the two sides it was always going to be about money and who indeed was going to get a bigger slice of that $ 9 billion piece of the pie ! That in effect was the be all and end all of this whole negotiation process and none of the other so called side issues that we were led to believe making up this whole negotiation process. An eighteen game schedule was a none starter and the talk about union benefits and increase for current and retired players was simply a ploy all along. If either side were really concerned about issues such as players’ benefits as it relates to retired players then I can categorically tell you this that both sides would’ve done their damndest to get a deal done long ago before the cba had expired. The league has never cared about the well being of its players and neither too for that matter has the NFLPA ! Smith’s own predecessor Gene Upshaw all but said it himself in words that can be attributed directly to him ………. “I’m not here for the older guys I’m here for the young guys who’ve put the game on the map ” . If that’s not a sad indictment of the NFLPA and what it stood for under Upshaw then someone tell me what is ?

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the this NFL mandated stoppage and will it now affect the view that you have towards bot the NLFPA and the NFL ? Also do you believe that any legal action taken by the players singularly or the union will be successful within the legal system ? And will you as such miss not seeing NFL football for the 2011-12 season ? Simply offer up a comment as to your own thoughts on the matter .

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, left, and Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys talk as they leave after negotiations with the NFL Players Association involving a federal mediator broke down without an agreement Friday, March 11, 2011 in Washington. AP Photo/Alex Brandon …….

(2) Former NFL player Don Davis departs after failing to reach an agreement in labor talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFLPA has filed for decertification and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players. Players will now be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images ………..

(3) NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith addresses reporters after the league and the NFL Players Association failed to reach an agreement in labor talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute as a deadline looms at the end of a 7 day extension of talks. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images ……

(4) WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 11: Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen departs after failing to reach an agreement in labor talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFLPA has filed for decertification and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players. Players will now be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images …..

(5) Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt (R) departs after failing to reach an agreement in labor talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFLPA has filed for decertification and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players. Players will now be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images ……….

(6) WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 11: NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash & Chief legal counsel addresses the media at a news conference outside the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 11, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFLPA has filed for decertification and will no longer be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the players. Players will now be able to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ……….

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Alan aka tophatal …………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com/

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Bananarama …………… feat’g ….. Fun Boy Three …….. “It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It”
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