An Appreciation: The Thrilla In Manilla


Just one more of the many reasons why HBO is as good as we've got...

Just one more of the many reasons why HBO is as good as we've got...

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch the latest HBO documentary about the third and final fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the Thrilla In Manilla, and I came away with a completely different perspective than what I previously had.  The film is centered around Frazier, the Philly boxing icon and legendary heavyweight champion, who still lives in the apartment atop his famous boxing gym on North Broad Street, right in the heart of North Philadelphia and still carries around a healthy amount of bitterness and venom towards his former foe and rival Ali.  In the buildup to the fight way back in 1975, Ali turned on Frazier and succumbed to the pressure of his usual bombast, spewing hateful and destructive comments about his opponent and severing the bond that the two fighters had forged during Ali’s exile from boxing in the late 60’s.  The pain from this is still evident even now, as Frazier still carries the scars from what took place; the film has a moment where Frazier’s outgoing phone message is played and in it, he taunts and teases Ali about his fortunes since then, much like Ali used to do to him.  Joe had every right to his anger about what took place and what was said; not even Ali’s penchant for the colorful phrase and attracting attention are valid excuses for calling the man who helped create his legend a “gorilla” and an “Uncle Tom”.  The trilogy that these two participated in is among the greatest in boxing history and as such, didn’t need the extra bit of hype to be successful; people were excited because of who these guys were and what they accomplished.  Ali wounded Frazier’s pride and the resulting bitterness and resentment iced Frazier’s heart over, in a most permanent way.  HBO Films is once again at the top of their game, giving us unprecedented glimpses into the past and present and shedding light on an event unlike any other in sports history.  Kudos are deserved and given.


~ by darrylthewriter on April 27, 2009.

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