Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Joe Frazier died yesterday of liver cancer.  It was his generation of boxers that I know best.  Muhammed Ali stated what a good boxer Frazier was and that they were friends.  But friends of Frazier said he hated Ali till the end.  Which I think is sad.

I used to watch boxing.  Of course, Cassius Clay, later Muhammed Ali.  The newspapers I read today kept comparing Ali to Frazier and Ali came out on top.  Frazier had a street mentality.  He was darker than Ali.  And it's true that Ali has Irish blood in him.

Generations back, an Irish slave-owner had sex with one of Muhammed's ancesters.  His mother was light skinned.  But it was Frazier who died, yet Ali gets all the attention as usual.  Ali didn't care that he wasn't as black as Frazier, but to Frazier it meant everything.  Muhammed Ali's used to taunt him on the Mike Douglas Show and Howard Cosell.  On Mike Douglas, Ali would call Frazier "boy."  Frazier would get up and say, "Don't call me boy."  And Ali would cower in his chair and say, "I said Roy."  It was funny as hell.

Another boxer I admired was the Bayonne Bleeder, Chuck Wepner from NJ.  He went 15 rounds with Ali.  He didn't win but to me that was a major accomplishment.

A friend and I went to a closed circuit showing of Ali's fight with George Foreman.  Ali went on shows and told the audience how the fight was going to take place.  He was going to allow Foreman to punch him while he covered himself up with his mitts.  He called it "The Rope a Dope."  He said that by the 8th round Foreman would be punched out and then Ali would knock him out.  It happened exactly the way Ali predicted.

I had a Great-Uncle named Jackie Farrell who was a PR man for Jack Dempsey and later for the Yankees.  When asked about the upcoming fight with Frazier, my uncle said, "To me they're both bums.  And neither one of them could step in a ring with Dempsey."

I met Joyce Carol Oates at a book signing.  She had earlier written a book about boxing.  We had a nice conversation about it.

Frazier is dead yet the publicity still swirls around Muhammed Ali, who to me is the best boxer ever.  Ali suffers from Parkinsons, which might have stemmed from a fight with Frazier.  It was a God awful punch.  Ali's head almost spun.  Was this the unfortunate happenstance that brought on the Parkinsons?

It's still all about Ali, one of the best athletes we've ever had.  Sharp-witted and lovable.  Smart as a whip.  And still so pretty.

                                                             Foreman, Frazier and Ali

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