It’s been forty years since Muhammad Ali stunned George Forman in Zaire, as he tricked Forman into punching himself to exhaustion with the now famous rope-a-dope strategy. 25-year-old Forman had recently destroyed Joe Frazier and was a huge 4-1 favorite heading into the fight against the 32-year-old former champ, but he was no match for Ali’s mind games and craftiness.
Here’s a great write-up of the anniversary from Bill Dwyre and the video above has clips from the fight and from a documentary as well.
I miss the days when boxing had so many characters and so much drama. Nothing today can match it.
The great Joe Frazier has passed away at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer. We had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Frazier two years ago. He told us about his epic battles with Muhammad Ali and George Forman and also playfully hinted that he would have beaten Mike Tyson.
Frazier was a class act and he couldn’t have been nicer when we interviewed him. Yet he had to endure years of outrageous taunts from Ali and the bitterness stayed with him for years. But recently that changed according to ESPN:
Frazier, who in his later years would have financial trouble and end up running a gym in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, took the jabs personally. He felt Ali made fun of him by calling him names and said things that were not true just to get under his skin. Those feelings were only magnified as Ali went from being an icon in the ring to one of the most beloved people in the world.
After a trembling Ali it the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta, Frazier was asked by a reporter what he thought about it.
“They should have thrown him in,” Frazier responded.
He mellowed, though, in recent years, preferring to remember the good from his fights with Ali rather than the bad. Just before the 40th anniversary of his win over Ali earlier this year — a day Frazier celebrated with parties in New York — he said he no longer felt any bitterness toward Ali.
“I forgive him,” Frazier said. “He’s in a bad way.”
Frazier is one of the true boxing legends from its Golden Age and he will be missed.