Dramatic denouement of Thriller in Manila. Coach Fraser’s decision made Ali great
On October 1, 1975, the greatest fight in boxing history took place – Thriller in Manila. Mohammed Ali and Joe Fraser met in the boxing ring for the third time. This time they were brought to the capital of the Philippines, Manila, where the economic and social situation was difficult. And in order to dispel this myth and show openness to everything new, President Ferdinand Marcos decided to take up the organization. Did this populist know that the fighters will have to fight in +30 … 40 degrees of heat? Did the fighters know about such conditions? If not, but they would have been told about this heat, would they have agreed to go out? History is silent about these moments.
How it all began?
What preceded this fight, besides the score in the series 1: 1? Of course, an unstoppable thrash-current machine from the Greatest. It was not enough for him to win a rematch. He wanted to wipe Fraser off the face of the earth, not only physically, but also mentally. Let’s remember how the history of the enmity began and how it grew.
In 1967, Mohammed Ali refused to participate in the Vietnam military campaign in a very harsh manner, for which he was removed from boxing. Yes, with this decision he gained no less fame than during his performance in the boxing ring, but at the same time he received a lot of hate addressed to him. Many people turned their backs on Ali. But one of those who gave a helping hand was Joe Fraser, who was impressed by Mohammed’s deed. Smoking Joe financially supported the suspended fighter and even asked US President Richard Nixon to consider returning his boxing license to the disgraced boxer.
This is how President Nixon responded to Fraser’s request:
“Hi Joe! You want to fight and you will get it! “
The fact is that initially the disqualification was for an indefinite period. But only 3.5 years later, the Supreme Court ruled that Ali’s dismissal was illegal. In addition, public opinion towards the war became negative, which only contributed to such a decision. After that, nothing could prevent the fight between Fraser and Ali. Moreover, the public did not recognize the true champion in the Smoking Joe. For them, the number 1 at all times remained Mohammed Ali.
How did the feud between Ali and Fraser originate?
Fraser himself understood his place in the hierarchy and the place of Ali, and therefore wanted to prove the opposite in a fair fight. Only their confrontation began long before entering the ring, since Ali sharply changed his attitude towards his already former friend and future counterpart. Mohammed descended to racist insults, using even meanness like “Uncle Tom”, which was considered the worst that a black man could hear. Against this background, the words “freak”, “stupid”, “illiterate” could be safely ignored.
At that time, a rather tough segregation was formed – the blacks supported Ali, and the whites supported Fraser. Mohammed continued to bombard his former buddy in the media. It wouldn’t be so bad if those laurels belonged to Joe alone. The point is that it was about the entire Fraser family. His son was constantly beaten at school, bullied, called “Uncle Tom”. And the Fraser family’s house received threats to blow it up. Was this what Ali wanted to achieve in the end? If so, we congratulate him. He coped with this task brilliantly.
However, this did not stop Fraser from winning the first fight by unanimous decision. Ali was clearly not at ease. Long absence definitely affected his condition, since he could not remove the notorious “rust” after two warm-up fights. But even after that defeat, Ali’s trash car was unstoppable. There was no talk of popular recognition of Smoking Joe as the best in the world. Therefore, their roads had to cross again.
Between the first and second meeting, Ali entered the ring 13 times, and Fraser only 4 times. The reason for such a small number of performances of the second is problems with the left eye, which Joe saw worse than his right. Steaming Joe, meanwhile, lost for the first time in his career to George Foreman by knockout in the second round, being knocked down six times. Fraser then lost to his bosom enemy, losing for the second time in his career. Ali literally held Joe’s head with his front hand so that he would not come closer. This fettered Fraser’s movements. The coach of the losing side, Eddie Futch, accused the referee of the fight, Tony Perez, of not interfering in the fight. Those statements have remained just words thrown to the wind.
Ali blows his head in Manila
And a year later, Thriller happened in Manila. The fight was scheduled for 10:45 am local time, which meant evening time in America. Moreover, it was the first live boxing match. When it seemed that Ali crossed all possible and impossible boundaries, he sank even lower directly in front of Manila.
He began calling Fraser a gorilla and took out a toy gorilla, which he beat, indicating that Joe was waiting. And what about Ali wrote a poem:
It will of the BE a killa
And a chilla
And a thrilla
for When I of the get the gorilla
with In The Manila
“It will be murder,
When I get to this gorilla
Actually, this is how the third battle got its name. The game was not limited to the toy gorilla. Ali infiltrated Fraser’s workouts, ripped them off, threw a chair at him from the balcony, and also interfered with his stay in Manila. One night, Mohammed came to Joe’s hotel with a toy gun and tried to scare his enemy once again. Then he rushed to Fraser’s room. Obviously, the PR campaign is out of control.
Subsequently, five days before the fight, Fraser moved to the outskirts of Manila, where he was isolated from all-round attention. At the same time, Ali got into a family scandal. Despite his adherence to Islam, Mohammed was a desperate womanizer and far from the most exemplary family man. He flew to the Philippines not with his wife Belinda Boyd, but model Veronica Porsche.
Ali took her to a reception at the Presidential Palace to Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos said that Mohammed has a very beautiful wife, meaning Porsche. Ali replied, “No, Mr. President. Your wife is prettier than my friend. ” These receptions were broadcast on TV and Belinda Boyd saw it. On the first flight, she flew to the Philippines and found them together during one of the interviews. A big scandal erupted, which brought confusion to the champion’s camp and could play into the hands of Fraser.
But Ali did not stop being himself. Before the fight itself, a hefty cup was presented in the ring, which was intended for the winner. Mohammed did not wait for the gong and immediately took the cup to his corner.
Thriller in Manila
As for the fight itself, it can be divided into three parts.
Ali dominated the first four rounds and shocked Fraser several times. The champion worked splendidly from a distance, fluttering like a butterfly. Fraser’s body was worse than in the first meeting. Therefore, he missed a lot of significant hits.
Ali swung out and Fraser joined the fight. The champion increasingly pressed against the ropes, and Joe shot him from close range, from where he caused a lot of damage. The Philadelphia native started almost all attacks with the body, sometimes striking below the belt. This was done deliberately to slow down Ali’s movements. By the middle of the fight, it was noticeable that both fighters were tired. But if Fraser is just tired, otherwise Ali is very tired, barely moving. This trend lasted from rounds 5 to 11. If you add the heat above +30 degrees, then you cannot understand them, but you need to. As well as the fact that the champion wanted to withdraw after 10 rounds, but the seconds did not allow this to happen. And they did the right thing.
Ali began to catch up from the 12th round, increasingly joining in protracted streaks. But he could not keep such a regime for long, which is why he often returned to the ropes, where he gave Joe to work. Unfortunately for Ali, the blind defense proved to be unreliable. However, Fraser still had poor vision in his right eye, which is why he could not see the blows with Ali’s left. Coach Eddie Futch threatened Joe that if he did not change the situation in the 14th round, then he would remove him from the fight. Fraser’s condition was dire. And in the penultimate round Ali destroyed, smashed, smashed Fraser. There are many synonyms for what happened.
How has boxing history changed in the one minute break before the last round?
During the break before the decisive five-minute, the unthinkable happens. Ali asks the seconds to take off their gloves, but they do not hear him. And in Fraser’s corner there is an important conversation. Eddie Futch is about to film his fighter. Joe resists and repeats the categorical “no” many times. Futch asks: “How many fingers do you see?” Fraser says three. There was only one correct answer. So Eddie said, “That’s enough.” Fraser’s Corner capitulated earlier than Ali.
Interestingly, here is what Ali would have defended for another three minutes if he fell off his feet right in the ring and could not get up? If Fraser was seriously crippled, Ali was almost exhausted to death. This fight can hardly be called the best fight in history in terms of quality, because Ali constantly pressed against the ropes, and Fraser rubbed in close range. He was named the best for another reason – they were ready to die in the ring and fight not 15, but 20-25, if necessary, or even 30 rounds. Yes, it could be argued that Ali asked to take off his gloves after round 14, which was first reported by Willie Monroe, Fraser’s sparring partner, who sat near Ali’s corner. The same was confirmed by his biographer Thomas Hauser.
It was a real war, and a foreign element intervened in it, the third superfluous, who did not want to see death in the ring. It seems to be nothing like that, because health is our everything, which is extremely important in our time. But Fraser’s coach did not see the difference between combat and war. These were not just great fighters, but also gladiators. So he made a fatal mistake and changed the course of history. That fight Fraser would have won only by reaching the final round.
Another unpleasant aftertaste after the fight: Ali did not apologize to Fraser personally, but through his son Marvis. Yes, one can justify the fact that Joe could hardly walk after such a cut. But this pigeon post and the very fact that Mohammed did not apologize personally is an indicator of cowardice and disrespect on the part of Ali.
No wonder Joe didn’t accept them. It was Mohammed who pioneered the well-known and currently relevant thesis in big-time sports “Business, nothing personal”. Conor McGregor’s behavior was alien to Khabib Nurmagomedov, so he did not want to let go of the Irishman’s neck even after the fight was stopped. But Ali then went even further, crossing all permitted and illegal boundaries and became the Greatest by pure chance and cowardice of one of the seconds. What a great injustice!