First Look | Thrilla in Manilla

7 04 2009

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This Saturday, HBO Films presents a documentary about one of the most celebrated boxing matches of the last half of the 20th Century. The third and final epic bout between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali affectionately known as the “Thrilla in Manilla.”

The documentary chronicles one of the bitterest sports face-offs ever, recounting a tale of personal betrayal that was stoked by the racial politics of 1970s America. Featuring archival footage and exclusive interviews with boxing insiders, including Ferdie Pacheco, Butch Lewis and Dave Wolf, as well as Imelda Marcos, former First Lady of the Philippines, the documentary tells the story of two great fighters forever linked by three epic bouts, and looks at their final fight, considered the most brutal, from Frazier’s perspective for the first time.

The film tracks an extraordinary personal battle between two friends, and captures the poignant moment in the socio-cultural history of the country when they became American sports icons and legends. While Ali was a symbol of the civil rights struggle and anti-Vietnam War movement, Frazier was cast as the symbol of the pro-war, conservative segment of American society, some would say unfairly.

In 1967, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown after refusing induction into the armed forces. The film reveals how Frazier subsequently befriended Ali and supported the renewal of his boxing license and status, showing the intense feelings of betrayal he felt after Ali returned to the ring in 1970 and subjected him to race-baiting attacks.

Judging from the commercials promoting the airing of this event, Ali’s attacks on Frazier were straight-up vicious. While revered today as a symbol of peace and love, Ali’s conduct during that time period, even for entertainment and promotional purpose, was truly over the line. With more mature eyes, even we understand the hurt and betrayal that Frazier must have felt as the public fawned over a man that was his friend who Frazier perceived stabbed him in the back.

This third epic battle was a the rubber match between these two titans. Frazier put Ali down and won an unanimous decision in their classic 1971 match-up while Ali avenged his earlier loss two year later.

“Thrilla in Manilla” premieres Saturday, April 11 at 8pm on HBO.

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4 responses

8 04 2009
Topics about Politics » First Look - Thrilla in Manilla

[…] Enduring America put an intriguing blog post on First Look – Thrilla in ManillaHere’s a quick excerpt…a symbol of peace and love, Ali’s conduct during that time period, even for entertainment and promotional purpose, was truly over the line. […]

12 04 2009
Hot News » Joe Frazier

[…] Frazier Autographed ‘Ali / Frazier I Weight’ 8′ x 10′ Color Photograph (…First Look – Thrilla in Manilla « FilmGordon…DID JOE FRAZIER RIDE THE GRAVY TRAIN? : MyBoxingFans :: Boxing News ::… « […]

17 04 2009
Steve

When boxing was epic, the world stopped when these 2 fought…

1 06 2009
Sam Walker

Guys — the picture you have up as the “thrilla in Manila” is not from their 1975 Manila fight. The picture you have up is from their first fight in Madison Square Garden four years earlier, on March 8, 1971. If you don’t believe me, check it out. In the Manilla fight, Frazier was wearing dark blue trunks and Ali white. In the pic above, Frazier is wearing the light green he wore for their first match (which he won), and Ali wore red.

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