Fight of their lives

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - LU­CAS TOWNSEND

STAMPED in his­tory as the great­est box­ing match ever, Muhammad Ali and Joe Fra­zier’s third and final bout was more than just a cham­pi­onship fight, it was one doused in an­i­mos­ity and acrimony.

But it wasn’t al­ways that way. The pair ( pic­tured) had once been al­lies.

When Ali fa­mously ob­jected to fight­ing in the Viet­nam War it was Fra­zier who sup­ported him.

With Ali in ex­ile, Fra­zier swooped in on his crown, spark­ing one of the great­est ri­val­ries in his­tory.

When Ali fi­nally got his li­cence back, they met in the so- called Fight of the Cen­tury, the first time that two undis­puted heavy­weight cham­pi­ons had met in the ring.

The mu­tual en­mity emerged in the build- up to the fight when Ali turned on Fra­zier, de­scrib­ing him as an ‘‘ Un­cle Tom’’, a ‘‘ white man’s cham­pion’’ and later, a ‘‘ go­rilla’’. Fra­zier in turn riled Ali by re­fer­ring to him by his birth name, Clay.

Fra­zier won the bout on points, knock­ing Ali down in the 15th round. Ali de­clared the re­sult a ‘‘ white man’s decision’’. By 1975, Ali was cham­pion again hav­ing un­ex­pect­edly re­gained the ti­tle by beat­ing Ge­orge Fore­man.

Ali’s camp de­cided to give Fra­zier a ti­tle shot as a final pay­day for Joe be­fore he re­tired.

How­ever, the fight proved to be a bru­tal af­fair.

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