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Old 06-04-2016, 02:23 PM   #21
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The passing of an icon, indeed. Here's a gallery of images featuring him.

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Old 06-04-2016, 06:01 PM   #22
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I happened to meet him once in 1988. By chance, we both arrived to check in at the same hotel at the same time. I knew he had Parkinson's disease, but I was very struck by its effect on him. Hard to understand when he spoke, and not able to sign his name beyond a scrawl. Fortunately, he had people with him to help with everything.

Still, even dealing with all that he was gracious and friendly to everyone. Definitely an unforgettable individual and an incredible athlete.

RIP.
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:09 PM   #23
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I still remember the commercial from my childhood: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the great smell of Brut and the punch of Ali."

i haven't followed boxing much at all since it all went to pay-per-view. But when I was a kid in the 1970s, I think heavyweight boxing was in its "golden decade" that every sport seems to have. Not only did you have so many great fighters going at it with each other -- Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Lyle, Norton, Holmes and so on -- but all the big bouts were on live, *free* network TV. And those of us who watched it remember the calls from "Howard Cosell reporting from ringside".

But at the epicenter of the 1970s boxing universe, of course, was Ali. Whether you loved him or wanted him to lose, the entertainment and showmanship value was there. If there is one word I can use to describe him, it would be "iconic". Like Babe Ruth defined baseball in the 1920s, Ali symbolized boxing in the 1970s in a decade where the heavyweights got almost all the attention. And in a year when so many legends from my youth are dying off, 2016 marches on to claim yet another one. The Grim Reaper is having a career season.
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:50 PM   #24
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Boxing made Ali famous, but there is no doubt that the repeated blows to the head that Ali experienced took a severe toll on him. He began slurring his words at age 40, and was never the same after that. I used to watch boxing back in Ali's era, but never do anymore, partly because it is pretty clear what happens when anyone suffers repeated brain trauma, which is unavoidable in the sport of boxing.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:07 AM   #25
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I was not a fan when he was still fighting, because of his brash, oversized personality.

I wished Liston had beaten him though by the time I first heard of him, Ali had had his epic fights, both wins against Liston and one or both fights against Frazier.

I didn't appreciate the poetry of his self-promotion and the promotion of the legendary fights. His rhymes were memorable and no doubt inspired many but for some reason, they contributed to my perception of him as a cocky, taunting jerk.

Instead I thought Frazier's story was more inspirational and his low-key demeanor seemed more deserving of admiration.

I distinctly recall Ali mocking Frazier and other opponents for being boring or slow or not pretty like him.

Among all the reactions to his passing, a lot of young black star athletes talk about how inspirational he was to them and the one reason repeatedly cited is that Ali spoke up for what he believed in.

But I'm not sure they're referring to the biggest issue that Ali is known for, his refusal to report for service and go serve in Vietnam. Was it this refusal that which inspired generations of people or was it Ali's overall irrepressible, brash demeanor?

And would Ali be the inspirational figure if he didn't beat Frazier and especially Foreman? People talk about his influence and significance beyond his feats in the ring but if he lost those big, legendary fights, would he have had the same political and cultural impact?

As I said before, I didn't like the larger than life personality that he cultivated. The people who took up this mantle of cockiness and braggadocio were not boxers who followed him or even the superstar black NFL and NBA players. It was instead superstar rappers who churned out hits bragging about their sexual prowess and their material wealth who best exemplify the Ali persona in the late 20th and early 21st century popular culture.

On the other hand, Ali's bravery, his apparent willingness to challenge the orthodoxy which led this country to an unjust and unpopular war seems heroic. It's certainly more admirable than superstar athletes who appear only to be concerned about making the most money. You wouldn't think Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lebron James or other figures of similar stature would risk taking stances like the very public refusal by Ali to be inducted into the Selective Service, because the megastars of today wouldn't risk losing the lucrative endorsements and sponsorships which bring them tens or even hundreds of millions a year.

Then again, you suspect they'd find a way to avoid service even if we had conscription.

But I wonder, was Ali's stance purely one of conscience or did he simply believe he could avoid it without paying the consequences?

Did he know that he'd be stripped of his titles and be prevented from fighting for 3-4 years, in his prime?

He certainly wasn't meek when he was expressing his conscience. He talked of his unwillingness to fight "slave masters" in their war against "dark-skinned people."

I haven't read biographies so I don't know if he was genuine in expressing his conscientious objector status or he was gambling that he could refuse to serve and get away with it due to his fame.

Because what happened to individuals who refused to serve? How easy or difficult was it to get an exemption due to religious beliefs? Didn't men typically get incarcerated unless they were able to convince the draft board?

Certainly Ali inspired many others who objected to the war as well as well as young African-Americans who saw a black star take an heroic political stand.

Ali also was an inspiration to the Civil Rights movement but he doesn't seem to have gone in any marches or make a lot of statements about the movement. Certainly there was overlap between the Civil Rights and anti war movements which might explain why those fighting for Civil Rights in the 60s gravitated to Ali.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:10 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
I still remember the commercial from my childhood: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the great smell of Brut and the punch of Ali."

i haven't followed boxing much at all since it all went to pay-per-view. But when I was a kid in the 1970s, I think heavyweight boxing was in its "golden decade" that every sport seems to have. Not only did you have so many great fighters going at it with each other -- Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Lyle, Norton, Holmes and so on -- but all the big bouts were on live, *free* network TV. And those of us who watched it remember the calls from "Howard Cosell reporting from ringside".

But at the epicenter of the 1970s boxing universe, of course, was Ali. Whether you loved him or wanted him to lose, the entertainment and showmanship value was there. If there is one word I can use to describe him, it would be "iconic". Like Babe Ruth defined baseball in the 1920s, Ali symbolized boxing in the 1970s in a decade where the heavyweights got almost all the attention. And in a year when so many legends from my youth are dying off, 2016 marches on to claim yet another one. The Grim Reaper is having a career season.


I think it is hard for a general sports fan under the age of 40 to truly understand how "Big" heavy weight championship boxing was at one time. It truly was the pinnacle crown jewel event. I think "pay per view" lead to its general demise. Almost any village idiot at the time could rattle off the names of 5 heavyweight contenders in the 1970s. You would have to be a "Heavyweight Groupie" to know 5 now.
You mentioned Ron Lyle....That guy led an incredibly interesting life and very unrated. That 1976 fight with George Foreman was unbelievable and savage...They both should have been thrown in jail over that one. My favorite fight of all time.
Having the benefit of perspective it is easy now to see time had past Ali by before the first Spinks fight, but he had such a mystic presence about him it was hard to believe. When the Holmes fight was announced no one gave Ali a chance, but Ali got the public in such a frenzy the late betting money went heavy on Ali as underdog... Not such a good bet..
I actually have the DVD of Ali's last fight most forgot about and it wasn't the Holmes one. He tried one last attempt at a comeback in 1981 versus Trevor Berbick. Never seriously hurt, but despite winning a few middle rounds was clearly outpointed.


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Old 06-05-2016, 09:20 AM   #27
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One thing is for sure, Ali was his own man. Initially I didn't like him that much, but over time grew to love him. I have always enjoyed boxing and its sad to see the golden age of boxing die a long time ago, and now replaced by MMA.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:37 AM   #28
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I think it is hard for a general sports fan under the age of 40 to truly understand how "Big" heavy weight championship boxing was at one time. It truly was the pinnacle crown jewel event. I think "pay per view" lead to its general demise. Almost any village idiot at the time could rattle off the names of 5 heavyweight contenders in the 1970s.
Maybe even age 50+. And yes, the top contenders names were pretty well known by anyone with a passing interest in professional boxing. I can remember going to the local boxing gym in downtown Houston to watch the fighters training. The gym looked very much like the old gym in the Rocky movies. You really can't appreciate the sights of such a gym without the "smells".

The "local" favorite (his nick name was "Ziggy") was training for a fight with one of the major contenders. If he (Ziggy) won, he would then become a major contender. The local newspapers were really playing up his chances. I actually went to the fight which was held in Houston. If I remember correctly the local favorite was knocked out in about 90 secs of the first round. I learned then that those top contenders are truly fighting at another level.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:42 AM   #29
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But I wonder, was Ali's stance purely one of conscience or did he simply believe he could avoid it without paying the consequences?
I'd posit that he'd've had a far easier go of it, and would've gotten nowhere near combat action, if he'd've enlisted and gone on PR/USO tours for the military...he would have been feted & coddled......it's my feeling he took the hard road.

As to the braggadocio - marketing hype, no more no less.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:53 AM   #30
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Didn't Joe Louis serve in the military?

I don't know how his service impacted his career. I wonder if Ali was influenced by Louis' experience.

I don't know, I don't think Ali was so beloved in the '60s. Even converting to Muslim and changing his name probably rubbed America the wrong way, not to mention the "uppity negro" that was the perception of many at the time.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:55 AM   #31
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One thing is for sure, Ali was his own man. Initially I didn't like him that much, but over time grew to love him. I have always enjoyed boxing and its sad to see the golden age of boxing die a long time ago, and now replaced by MMA.
I'm too young to really remember his pre-Ali days. My childhood memories of him fighting began when he was making his first comeback, fighting Jerry Quarry and during that fight I admired Quarry more the way he hung in their (until his bleeding problems lost to the fight). I remember listening with my brothers on a small transistor radio to the fight of the century between him and Frazier.

I marvel looking at footage from his pre-Ali fights at his very unorthodox style. When I think of him, there are the pre-Ali days, the Ali, and his place and time in history. Not just boxing history but American history.

Never seen him in person, but did happen by chance see Joe Frazier waiting by himself in a hotel lobby when I was I was on business with co-workers visiting Atlantic City. I would love if there was a documentary on Joe Frazier. Some folks tend to forget that he was the other undefeated champ before the Ali-Frazier one fight.
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Old 06-05-2016, 11:21 AM   #32
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I'm too young to really remember his pre-Ali days. My childhood memories of him fighting began when he was making his first comeback, fighting Jerry Quarry and during that fight I admired Quarry more the way he hung in their (until his bleeding problems lost to the fight). I remember listening with my brothers on a small transistor radio to the fight of the century between him and Frazier.



I marvel looking at footage from his pre-Ali fights at his very unorthodox style. When I think of him, there are the pre-Ali days, the Ali, and his place and time in history. Not just boxing history but American history.



Never seen him in person, but did happen by chance see Joe Frazier waiting by himself in a hotel lobby when I was I was on business with co-workers visiting Atlantic City. I would love if there was a documentary on Joe Frazier. Some folks tend to forget that he was the other undefeated champ before the Ali-Frazier one fight.


I personally was one who rooted for Smoking Joe. I think his place got diminished a bit because he lost the last 2 Ali bouts and George Foreman about killed him in their fight. The Trilogy Fights were so big, I imagine many forgot one of them ( the second if memory serves) wasnt even for a Belt.
Joe did pretty good for himself after his boxing years. Was very good with his money from what I read and didnt go the "broke" way of many. He like all of them had to have that "comeback" though. In early 80s fought came out of retirement and fought some journey man to a draw, and finally put away the gloves.


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Old 06-05-2016, 11:41 AM   #33
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Their is at least one documentary about Joe Frazier :
Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears*(2011)
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Old 06-05-2016, 11:42 AM   #34
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I personally was one who rooted for Smoking Joe. I think his place got diminished a bit because he lost the last 2 Ali bouts and George Foreman about killed him in their fight. The Trilogy Fights were so big, I imagine many forgot one of them ( the second if memory serves) wasnt even for a Belt.
Joe did pretty good for himself after his boxing years. Was very good with his money from what I read and didnt go the "broke" way of many. He like all of them had to have that "comeback" though. In early 80s fought came out of retirement and fought some journey man to a draw, and finally put away the gloves.


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I like how he got the nickname Smoking Joe. I used to think, what? From smoking a cigar after a win or something? No. If I get this right that when he'd be training for a fight, folks around town would hear him running around town sounding like a locomotive, thus, smoking Joe Frazier.

Watching the Ali-Frazier III fight is one of the best fights in history. Neither went down, but at the end had Frazier's corner didn't throw in the towel, Ali's corner was almost ready to. A classic.
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Old 06-05-2016, 11:51 AM   #35
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When he changed his name, I did not appreciate the significance.

But he was sure a good-looking articulate young man, I had the impression that he avoided many of the head blows that other heavyweight fighters endured.

RIP to a game-changer.
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Old 06-05-2016, 12:22 PM   #36
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In my mind he will always be a draft dodger. Some other American was drafted in his place and he continued to live a life of wealth.

He was still the champ, though.
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Old 06-05-2016, 01:20 PM   #37
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I was always an Ali fan. I remember going to my grandmothers room to get on the Philco radio to listen to his fights when I was 8-9 years old, trying to catch all the Ali-Cosell interviews on Wide World of Sports when he was on selected Saturdays, going to the 1971 pay per view Frazier fight when I was in high school, getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Rumble in the Jungle when I lived with a German family on foreign study in college, and driving three hours from where I worked in Yellowstone Park to see the pay per view sad ending against Larry Holmes in 1980.

The best film on him IMHO is When We Were Kings, a documentary about the Rumble.

He was, The Greatest!
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Old 06-05-2016, 01:36 PM   #38
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Sat in first class across the aisle from him on a flight from Atlanta to Louisville in 1988. He had the whole section spellbound with his stories and card tricks. Will never forget it! Met him again at a golf tournament benefiting Parkinson's at our club in Scottsdale in 2013. A shell of his former self but still had me spellbound 27 years later. Rest in peace Champ!
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Old 06-05-2016, 03:04 PM   #39
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Boxing was huge back then - just before he came on the scene. Friday night boxing from Gillette. And they had name fighters Ezzard Charles, Carmen Basilio, and many others. I used to watch it with my G-pa. He claimed it was all run by mobsters. We would bet on the fights. I followed Ali through the Olympics and all his fights. I remember listening on the radio to the second Liston fight in Maine (why Maine?). They were talking about the invisible punch immediately after. Did Liston ever fight again after that? My veteran DF hated Ali and that was just another devisive thing between us during the '68 anti-war timeframe.
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Old 06-05-2016, 03:11 PM   #40
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In my mind he will always be a draft dodger. Some other American was drafted in his place and he continued to live a life of wealth.
And I have been deeply bothered at the crazy media coverage about his death. Our local news station has had no less than 6 stories over the last couple of days and has been re-tweeting the same 5 tweets incessantly over the last couple of days. Whereas, Memorial Day was barely covered in the media and it's become nothing more than a 3 day weekend to "kick off summer."
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