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Exactly 50 Years Since Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali. Let’s Ride

March 8, 2021

Today marks the exact 50 year anniversary of the epic first boxing bout, between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, which “Smokin Joe” won in a 15 round decision.

It was a great bout, between a magnificent pugilist and transcendent figure Ali and his best opponent, the “always at you,” hard working, tremendous Frazier.

Electricity was in the air at a great venue, Madison Square Garden that Monday night March 8, 1971. Frank Sinatra was taking photographs and the NBA Knicks who played there, had won the most recent and first of their two NBA titles, another Frazier (Walt) scoring 36 points in the ultimate game, but being denied MVP honors as it went to another great player, Willis Reed, who scored 4 points in that #7/NBA final in 1970.

Just as with the 50/50 Senate vote days back, which does not augur well nor say much about our system, the result 50 years ago tonight was at first and still not a good one for me. However, just as Ali overcame and came back to not only win the next 2 bouts vs again, a man I respect so much, (Joe Frazier) though his win 50 years ago tonight devastated me because I loved Ali, the 50/50 vote, still gets many people, including me, much needed help.

Yet Ali fought too long, took too many blows and both he and Frazier did not live long enough. If we continue to only see things our way and not at least consider the other side, an already bad situation in this “what might have been” country, will get worse.

Then Joe Frazier picked the “exiled” Ali (need I cite what injustice that was!!) up in his vehicle and they “wrapped” hilariously from I guess Philadelphia to New York. This was circa 1970 and they knew the good and bad that would manifest from a bout between the two of them, easily the two best in the world in their violent activity.

Now, perhaps at a designated cloud, part of the HEAVEN complex, a phenomenal vehicle goes through time, emotions and likely possibility, to yield Ali and Frazier’s love and respect for each other. They watch their descendants from above, the earth and despite some progress (some of it clearly no good–witness a blowhard (dis)like S.A. Smith getting the “keys to the kingdom.”) this country still full of the black vs white (God/G-d/force created each and why can they get along on a cookie, but too often, not as human beings?!!) that marketed Joe vs Muhammad. (Of course both Joe and Muhammad are/were Black but most marketing feasts on the every “Tom”/Dick and Harry approach that along with our indifference allows their “dumbing down” and methodically draws us to buy both their product and their “B.S.”)

In truth, as with all of us, each man had flaws. I will always love Ali and also love the deep down, largely hidden respect, if not love, he had for Frazier. I hope there are no impoverished/unfortunate in heaven, but if there are, Ali and Frazier will pay a visit and help a bit, just as I believe they did on that car ride, now so long ago.

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