THRILLA IN MANILA FLASHBACK

No end in sight on Ali’s teasing Frazier

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Muhammad Ali
PHOTO FROM EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE

With only a few days left before his coming October 1 world heavyweight championship date with Joe Frazier, titlist Muhammad Ali wouldn’t stop hurling invectives the challenger’s way.

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On the day following his workout at the Folk Arts Theater, Ali admitted pulling a gun on Frazier before some 2,000 spectators who watched him worked on the heavy bag, speed ball, skipped rope and limbered up.

“Yeah, I pulled a gun on him. I went to his hotel and pulled a western cowboy scene on Joe Frazier,” Ali told his audience. “I shouted at him, Joe Frazier, can you hear me, gorilla? And the gorilla came to the balcony and I said, gorilla be out of Manila.”

“He thought it’s a real gun. It’s a toy gun. He heard it clicked. I put fear in his heart,” he said brandishing the gun to the crowd laughing aloud.

“I don’t believe in weapons, but I like frightening people,” he said before changing the subject.

“Boxing was dying, was in the graveyard until Muhammad Ali came. I had to resurrect boxing, “ he boasted. “ Boxing owes its resurrection to me.”

A group from the Philippine Institute of Doctors honored Ali with a doctoral citation in simple rites before the workout, affording the champion another occasion to ridicule Frazier.

“Now that I’m a doctor, I’ve a patient who’s very sick. I will see him in my hospital. The ring over there is my hospital. When he comes out, he’s a cured man,” he said in reference to Frazier.

After the workout, Ali, along with his training staff, headed by Angelo Dundee, went direct to the Manila Hilton. He stayed at the coffee shop over an hour, downed a serving of steak and horsed around with members of media.

He read the newspapers and commend on President Marcos’ announcement of an impending purge in his government. “he (the President) is some man. He is really the right man for this country.”

Ali had actually cancelled his morning roadwork, saying “I’m in fine shape and I need not push myself on the road.” Reason why, he added, “I’m working on the heavy bag to improve my punching power against Joe Frazier.”

“Right now, I’m getting my mind ready for the fight. Like before, I will pray for Allah for help and protection,” he said. “I become so successful, so famous, so renowned and wealthy because I put God first. I preach God’s words wherever I go and I spread His name. There is nothing more beautiful than that.”

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