• THRILLA IN MANILA FLASHBACK

    Ali, Frazier adopted sons of Manila

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    Joe Fraszier could have called Muhammad Ali Kuya—a Tagalog address of respect for an elder brother—at least for several days before they destroyed each other when they fought for the latter’s world heavyweight title 42 years ago in Manila.

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    That was when the City of Manila adopted the two greatest fighters of their era as sons in separate ceremonies held eight days before their bloody “Thrilla In Manila” encounter on October 1, 1975.

    Then City Mayor Ramon Bagatsing led the official confirmation of adoption on September 24 of the same year in rites held at the Philam Life Press Center with members of local and international media and other special guests in attendance.

    Drinks and food during the occasion were on Mayor Bagatsing.

    The defending champion, then 33 years old, and two years older than the challenger was “adopted” first, making him the elder brother of the former titlist. Ali was conferred the honor at 6:30 p.m. with Frazier following suit an hour later.

    Joe Frazier floors Muhammad Ali in their 1971 bout. AFP FILE PHOTO

    Mayor Bagatsing tapped “Smokin” Joe lightly on the shoulder after the ceremony saying, “now you can call Ali Kuya,” that drew laughter from the attendees.

    Councilors Carlos Fernandez and Roberto Oca Jr. authored the resolution of adoption passed unanimously earlier by the City Council.

    The resolution was read to both fighters by the Mayor’s technical adviser Pete Villanueva before they each were given a copy of their adoption papers.

    Ali, in his usual boastful, talkative self, thanked Mayors Bagatsing, the City Government and the people of Manila for making him their son. Frazier looked too proud reading the content of the adoption document.

    “It’s an honor to be one among the beautiful people of Manila. The people here are fantastic, and you can be sure that I will cherish this moment and carry he country’s name with honor and dignity wherever I go,” Frazier said.

    Ali promised to beat Frazier in their coming Super Fight III and just smiled when somebody asked whether he will stop calling Frazier “gorilla” now that they’re brothers.

    A Filipino newsman suggested he should stop calling his archrival “gorilla,” otherwise people will call him ape being the older and the bigger sibling.

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