War of nerves heated up between Ali and Frazier


The battle of nerves between heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier that started when the two first fought in 1971, reignited in 1974 in their rematch was relived anew in the twin press conferences held separately in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur and New York.

On July 2, 1975 and on February 17, the time promoter Don King let it known that “The Saga of Our Lifetime” Super Fight III will be held in the Philippines on October 1, of the same year, Ali, again, tormented “Smokin” Joe with words and motions of derisions but through it all, Frazier remained calm and refused to be baited.

Tensions between the duo would not hit up though until two weeks before the fight, upon the protagonists’ arrival in Manila. Frazier was he first to set foot on the host city soil at the dawn of September 13 followed by Ali two days later.

A Thrilla in Manila poster PHOTO FROM EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE

Except for son Marvis, no member of Joe’s family was in the arrival party. Wife Florence and their four daughters aged 13, 11, 7 and 5, will be hitting the Manila International Airport a week into the fight.

Others in the challenger’s party were manager-trainer Eddie Futch, assistant trainer George Benton, sparring partners Jimmy Young, Stan Ward, George “Scrapiron” Johnson, Joe Gholdston and Dwayne Bobbick, Daisy Channault, long time pedialcook; Leegrant Pressley, chauffer and right hand man; Milton Bailey, cutman; and the security group made up of Eddie Hurrell, Ralph Taylor, Willie Monroe and Redgemond Lewis.

Also in the Philippine Airlines Plane that had a stopover in Honolulu was the brand new Everlast ring for the October 1 bout, which was delivered immediately after custom clearance to the Araneta Coliseum (re-Christened Philippine Coliseum fore purpose of the fight)

Meanwhile, the official main press center at the first floor of the Philam Life Bldg along U.N. Avenue just opposite the Manila Hilton (Now Holiday Inn) where Ali and party will be billeted, became fully operational the day Fracier arrived. That early, some 183 applications for accreditation had already been under processed.

Some 82 applications had already been approved, mostly locals, ready for release. Don King telexed a list of 70 American media men will be arriving together on September 22. British correspondents have notified arrival plans a week before the fight. And so did Japanese boxing writers.

The promoter, likewise, cabled Manila the list of King’s celebrity guests. Including comedians Flip Wilson and Dick Gregory, movie veterans Rock Hudson and George Raft; jazz singer Sonny Bono; and novelist Norman Mailer.

The first live broadcast of Super Fight III went out loud and clear from Manila also that day. Don King’s advance man Hal Conrad also arranged TV syndication service a half-hour documentary aired over 80 US. cities on the Thrilla, highlighting shots of the Philippine Coliseum, Folk Arts Theater and scenes along Roxas Boulevard.


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