Thrilla in Manila: A treat to the Russians


    Ivan in Moscow was able to watch the delayed telecast of a world heavyweight championship fight for the first time a few hours after he October 1 Thrilla in Manila between belt-owner Muhammad Ali and challenger and former champion himself Joe Frazier.

    Of course, Johnny in New York, Nanook in Anchorage, Pierre in Quebec and Reginald in London were luckier having the privilege of seeing the direct live satellite feed over closed-circuit television from the time the bell rang at 10:30 in the morning (Manila Time) to start the historic confrontation promoter Don King loved to call “The Saga of Our Lifetime.”

    King, in announcing the news in a press conference held at the Al-Frazier central media center at the Philam Life building in Manila days before the fight, said the title encounter earned the distinction as the first to be fed via satellite to the Soviet Union via land line in Germany.

    Co-promoters Don King and Louie Tabuena with the then young Bob Arum. PHOTO FROM EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE

    Using all four major satellite over the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the fight was seen by 1.8 million viewers in the United States and Canada, who paid from $2.50 to $15 for a seat in closed-circuit auditorium and theaters.

    Altogether 600 locations in 68 countries all over the world carried the telecast to show that nothing was left to chance to ensure that the Super Fight III was seen by as many people as possible.

    Efforts were also made to have the heavyweight showdown shown in China, according to King but no development was reported on the matter after it was announced.

    King revealed that one factor that made the final chapter of the trilogy more interesting than the Ali-Frazier I held at the Madison Square Garden in New York was a couple of what he termed “dynamite undercards” for the main bout—one each for Manila and New York.

    For Manila supporting bout s saw heavyweights Larry Holmes and Rodney Bobick mixing it up for 10 rounds.

    Some 40 to 50celebrities, including Flip Wilson, Connie Sevens, Ryan O’Neal and Hugh O’Brien, among others came to Manila to watch the fight.

    The Ali-Frazier III, the promoter assessed, “had all the elements of a dynamite extravaganza,” adding that the Thrilla resulted in tremendous publicity overseas for the Philippines.

    Ever a super salesman as he was, and still is, King even cause the printing of 250,000 copies of souvenir program on the fight in New York. The magazine contained interesting articles on Ali and Frazier.


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