The arrival of foreign media men in the country signalled the full operation of the three of four press centers that catered to the needs of journalists covering the final episode of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier trilogy called “Thrilla In Manila” and “Super Fight III.
The morning after they flew in, foreign newsmen joined their local counterparts in the tour of the three of their places of works in their stay in Manila and until the smoke of battle of the 15-round showdown on October 1, 1975 would have been extinguished.
They were the central media facilities at the Philam Life building along UN Ave. opposite Ali’s official residence Manila Hilton Hotel and the auxiliary press centers at the Bayview Plaza, where the bulk of foreign media men were billeted, and that a he Folk Arts Theater, where the combatants held their training. A fourth press facility was at the Philippine Coliseum, which was strictly aided reporters on actual fight day.
Louie Tabuena, chair of the Games and Amusements Board who co-promoted the fight with international promoter Don King, led the group in the tour.
While touring the facilities, Tabuena, aided by the liaison men assigned to both fighters, made it known to all concern the functions of the media centers —that was to keep lines of information open—and not to control news flows or get in the way of individual enterprise by local and international reporters.
Liaison men of both camps and with the co-promoters had the job of phoning information to the main center for use as news releases or as briefing materials. In addition to making available at the main press center, printed releases were carried by express messengers o Bayview and the two boxers’ residence hotels.
Other highlights of the press services were pigeon holes to every reporters wanting message drops that was operated 24/7, non-fight information/interviews, air freight services manned by government information officers, film and photo processing, car for hire and other personal, needs of media men.
Additionally, token Department of Tourism team was also made available 4/7 to help visiting journalists get insights into the Philippines and Filipino life.
The host country, indeed, left no stone unturned in making all its visitors happy and contented in the duration of their stay in the country prompting some journalists to commend, “can’t ask for more.”
Notes: Only during the tour that many media visitors who were not in the know and confused to realize that the Thrilla was, actually, to be held in Quezon City … that Frazier’s hotel was in Pasay City … that the Manila International Airport was in the Rizal town of Parañaque … that only Ali’s Manila Hilton residence and the Bayview Plaza were in Manila.