Bill Simmons on the Ali-Frazier Rivalry

“The fight eventually ruined both men, only neither of them cared. They were fine with the stakes.”

Run, don’t walk, to read this incredible breakdown of the beef between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali which peaked during the Thrilla in Manila fight, said to be one of the greatest all-time bouts in boxing history.  Bill Simmons breathlessly captures the moment and the story surrounding it over at Grantland, it’s fascinating stuff…

Once upon a time, on a sweltering night in the Philippines, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier tried to murder each other. This happened legally, which somehow made it OK.

See, they signed a contract to “fight” each other in Manila. They wore padded gloves, trunks and sneakers so it looked like “boxing.” They agreed to fight for 15 three-minute rounds with 60-second breaks in between. They gave a trained referee (Carlos Padilla) and two trusted trainers (Eddie Futch for Frazier, Angelo Dundee for Ali) the power to stop the “fight” if it went too far. They confined themselves within a roped ring and fought furiously for 180 seconds at a time, only halting when they heard a bell … and even then, there were a couple of times when they just kept going. Thirteen times, they retreated to their respective corners, sat on stools directly facing one another, slurped water, gathered their breath for 60 seconds, stared across the ring at one another and thought about things like, “I have to kill him before he kills me.” Each time, a bell would ring. They would stand up, walk toward the middle of the ring and try to murder each other again.

Read the Rest:

Sports Book Hall of Fame: Ghosts of Manila (Grantland)

 

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