Still a thrilla after all these years

A quick post, before I forget. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest prizefights in history, the Thrilla in Manila. The epic third fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier rocked the Araneta Coliseum to its foundations. I was too young to merit a ticket to the actual fight, but I did get to see them, for free, in their training sessions at the Folk Arts Theater. The Manila Times carried a Reuters story on the classic, but the Inquirer’s Recah Trinidad (a consummate reporter, and Tata Recs to many of us) wrote a masterpiece.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Still a thrilla after all these years

  1. manuelbuencamino

    John thanks for the Recah Trinidad piece. Beautiful.

  2. manuelbuencamino

    John thanks for the Recah Trinidad piece. Beautiful.

  3. manuelbuencamino

    John thanks for the Recah Trinidad piece. Beautiful.

  4. Jojo

    Jesus, that was thirty years ago? I was a junior at UP, the late Ilocano Congressman Manuel Cases was late in handing us our final exams in Philippine Foreign Policy because he went to see the fight. There was a rumor that Channel 9 (RPN) would not broadcast it live in the Philippines.

    Cases explained to us an hour and a half after the exam was supposed to start that he wrote a petition to President Marcos (his Lakay) to have the fight televised live in the Philippines. Marcos did not respond to his petition, so segurista that he was, Cases went to the Araneta Coliseum and saw Ali clobber Frazier.

    We had no choice but wait: he was, after all, the professor.

    Apart from Ali winning over Frazier, 1975 reminded me of Cases’s looney anti-communism. He opposed the removal of the US bases in the Philippines as he believed that the “Red Chinese” would come swimming across the China sea, all 1 billion of them to occupy us, and the Philipines will either run out of bullets or “mangangawit ang daliri mo sa kabababaril.” He also warned us to get ready for the second deluge, for one of these days all 1 billion “Red Chinese” will pee at the same time and flood the world in the name of communism!

    Of course, 1975 was also the year when the first public protest was waged by UP students against Marcos and the first worker’s strike during martial law occured at La Tondena. The police easily broke up our mini-rally in front of the UP Library (many of the FQS veterans were not there anymore to provide guidance for us neophyte activists — the countryside and the underground had called on their services). They then arrested, among others, now Central Bank Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo (who was Collegian editor then) and now-GMA hack Alex Magno (who was Collegian associate editor). What a year.

  5. The Marcos baby that I am, I was four months into Grade I when the Thrilla took place in ’75. The first time I read about it was six years later: I was a high school student looking for books to read and stumbled upon the 1975 yearbook accompanying the Collier’s Encyclopedia that my lolo bought.

    It’s just unfortunate that the Will Smith biopic on Ali that I recently saw only went as fas as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

    But this Guardian article which Torn and Frayed posted provided some more details on that event, and into the minds of the two protagonists, particularly a still angry Joe Frazier.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,1559805,00.html

  6. Manuel: You are most welcome. I had heard Recah was writing a feature, but I didn’t realize, until I read the Reuters piece, that reporters like him who actually covered the fight had a much better vantage point (or at least a better opportunity) for writing a definitive account. It was only after reading the Reuters piece that I looked for his article. By then it was a day old. But it does look like it will outlive the usual fish-wrapper fate, doesn’t it?

    Jojo, what a wonderful post. (I would have replied sooner, but things got tight.) On that day, my school decided to show the fight in the auditorium; there were several TV sets scattered across the hall, and classes were loosely clustered around the assigned sets (these were big ones, the Radiowealth type). I remember winning five one-peso bets (250 percent more than my weekly allowance), from five classmates who really should have known better.

    Great link, Willy! Thanks for the tip.

  7. Gej

    Am happy you posted something on sports in your blog.

    I remember being in that grade school auditorium thirty years ago, together with ALL the grade school students, watching the Ali-Frazier classic.

    During that fight, even among us kids that time, each one routed for Ali or Frazier passionately. There were very few who couldn’t care less. Even had some classmates who got carried away, did their own Ali-Frazier fistfight, anc carried the grudge till High School.

    Recah Trinidad’s piece was great. I wonder if he just wrote it for the 30th anniversary, or whether he had kept the piece all these years or reprinted it.

    I hope you don’t limit your sports-related posts to events held thirty years ago. Specially in the Philippines, where sports seems to be every bit political as athletic, it would be interesting to read different views.

    For example, how about blogging the preparations (or, arguably, the flaws) for the SEA Games,what to look forward to in the SEA Games, or the basketball stand-off, or the success of the PBA-supported RP basketball team in recent international competitions. Or the La Salle – FEU Championship (with or without the batok incident)- anyway, one could catch many of the politicos you write about watching these games . Etc.

    How about it?

  8. Gej

    Am happy you posted something on sports in your blog.

    I remember being in that grade school auditorium thirty years ago, together with ALL the grade school students, watching the Ali-Frazier classic.

    During that fight, even among us kids that time, each one routed for Ali or Frazier passionately. There were very few who couldn’t care less. Even had some classmates who got carried away, did their own Ali-Frazier fistfight, anc carried the grudge till High School.

    Recah Trinidad’s piece was great. I wonder if he just wrote it for the 30th anniversary, or whether he had kept the piece all these years or reprinted it.

    I hope you don’t limit your sports-related posts to events held thirty years ago. Specially in the Philippines, where sports seems to be every bit political as athletic, it would be interesting to read different views.

    For example, how about blogging the preparations (or, arguably, the flaws) for the SEA Games,what to look forward to in the SEA Games, or the basketball stand-off, or the success of the PBA-supported RP basketball team in recent international competitions. Or the La Salle – FEU Championship (with or without the batok incident)- anyway, one could catch many of the politicos you write about watching these games . Etc.

    How about it?

  9. howie

    Thanks for the posting Recah’s piece John. Enjoyed it. Boxing and sports in general provide such fertile material for great reporting and writing it’s a wonder inspiration comes so rarely to our local sports writers.

    Still waiting for your literary masterpiece on Pacquiao (or did I already miss that?). Where’s our Ring Lardner/ Red Smith covering our current champion(s)?

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