THRILLA IN MANILA FLASHBACK

Super Fight 111 organizers hailed

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The men who will be at the corners of title -defending Muhammad Ali and challenger Joe Frazier for the October 1st “Thrilla” In Manila” world heavyweight championship showdown expressed satisfaction seeing the facilities inside the Philippine Coliseum, site of the duo’s 15-roud showdown.

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The imported Everlast ring that had just been installed in the Araneta family-owned air-conditioned dome earned the nod of both Eddie Futch, “Smokin” Joe’s manager-trainer, and Angelo Dundee, his counterpart in the Ali camp.

“This is a fine arena for the staging of the world heavyweight title fight,” the two chorused upon seeing the condition inside the stadium following an ocular inspection they conducted in the presence of Games and Amusements Board chair Louie Tabuena, who was co-promoting, with international impresario Don King, the final chapter of the two fighters’ trilogy with Don King.

Inside view of Philippine (Araneta) Coliseum PHOTO FROM EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE

“There are things that still need improvement, but except for some minor adjustments, he facilities are very good,” they agreed, adding they expect both Ali and Frazier not to be asking for more.

“Superb. Just like when I was here a decade ago,” Futch, who admitted he brought some boxers to the country to fight in the same venue 1961, said.

Dundee praised no end the entire arrangement local organizers had made at the coliseum, the center of activities at the Philam Life building as well as those at Bayview Plaza and the training site at Folk Arts Theater,

“We’ve been in several countries before, but I can definitely say that the arrangements here in Manila are very admirable. You’re, indeed, way ahead of time in terms of organizing events of this size and magnitude.”

“Fantastic, `very efficient,” Futch, for his part, butted in. “Your people are very thorough in performing their job. They do things just right.”

The fight site, located inside the vast Araneta family-owned property in Cubao, Quezon City, which is part of Greater Manila area, is a 27,000-sea complex that could also hold an overflow crowd of 32,000.

It was but in1960 as the owners’ answer to the common man’s clamor for a modern cultural, sports and entertainment venue where people from all walks of life can watch local and international sports and cultural shows they can afford.

J. Amado Araneta, well-known Filipino businessman-sportsman and head of the huge Araneta business conglomerate, is a man who always thinks big and the Araneta Coliseum was one of the monuments of his vision.

Construction was started in 1958 and within the next two years, the people for whom it was built was the big dome completed is imposing figure becoming the hub of a commercial center.

It was inaugurated on March 15, 1960 with the Flash Elorde-Harold Gomes world junior-lightweight championship encounter which the Filipino hero won via a spectacular seventh-round knockout.

From then on, he coliseum, which the Filipinos also refer to as the “Big Dome,” or “People’s Coliseum,” has served as the center of local and international sports and entertainment shows.

Six months after the Ali-Frazier Super Fight III, it became the home of the Philippine Basketball Association, the country’s and Asia’s first professional basketball league.

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