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News  


REMEMBERING THE THRILLA IN MANILA


PhilBoxing.com


MANILA (PNA) -- Thirty seven years ago today, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the greatest fighters of their era, fought in Manila, the former tried and succeeded in defending his world heavyweight title and the latter tried but failed to wrest the plum.

And the world watched Ali bounce back from the brink of losing his crown by winning the bloody bout via a 14th round technical knockout victory before thousands or maybe millions who trooped to the Araneta, Coliseum, re-Christened Philippine Coliseum for that purpose, and glued to their television sets.


The 30,000 or so inside the air-conditioned Big Dome in Quezon City, included, of course, President Marcos and his beautiful First Lady Imelda, the principal figures behind the staging here of the fight that was dubbed “The Fight of the Century.”
The Philippines, already known for its superb organizational capability and the Filipinos for their extraordinary hospitality, more than justified that distinction for many months from the time it earned the right to host the fight and even yeas after that.

Unknown to many, the “Thrilla In Manila” gained the honor of being the first fight to be fed via satellite to the then Soviet Union via land line in Germany.

Using all four major satellites over the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the scheduled 15-round encounter was seen by 1.8 million fans in the United States and Canada, who paid $12.50 to $15 a seat in closed circuit auditoriums and theaters (the now pay-public-preview viewing was still taboo then). Altogether, 600 locations in 68 countries all over the world carried the telecast.

From the time two boxing greats set their foot in the country middle of September, an average of five to 10 stories daily were fed to all media outfits in the world thanks to the efficient handling of the press centers manned by staff of government media networks as the Bureau of National Information of the Department of Public Information, the Philippines News Agency and Channel 4.

The presence of no less than two dozen wire and fight magazine reporters, likewise, wrote not only about the two fighters and the fight but how beautiful the Philippines is and how great its people are.

The list of foreign newsmen who flew in here included not only the who’s who in sportswriting, but the entire journalism profession as well such as Red Smith and Dave Anderson of the New York Times; Will Grimsley and Ed Schuyler of the Associated Press; and Milt Richman and Bob Stewart of the United Press International.

Also in Manila to chronicle the big event were Ronald Batchelor of Reuters; Peter Vincent Bonventre of Newsweek and Mark Kram of Sports Illustrated; Jerry Izenberg of Newark Star Ledger; Tom Cushman of Philadelphia News; Dick Schaap of Sports Magazine and Washington Star News; Milt Dunnel of Toronto Star;
Bob right of Philadelphia Bulletin; Ed Ingles of CBS Radio; Bill Furlong of Washington Post; Bob Waters of Newsday; Tom DiLustro and Tom Cotrell of AP; Vic Ziegel and Leonard Lewin of New York Post; Skip Myslenski of Philadelphia Bulletin; Ed Kolenovsky of AP; Jerry Lisker of National Star; Jim Jacobs, Alice Kwarter, Steve Lott an Sherri Feldman of Big Fights Inc.;
Eric Ell of Springer Publishing; Ben Wett of German TV; Rolf Svenson of Afronblader in Sweden; Frank Zuba of Big Fights Inc.; Susan Faust of Today Magazine; Wardell Quitman, Gordon Peterson of Don King Productions, Joe Flaherty, Curt Gunther of Camera 5; Franz Wagner of Neue Revue in Germany; and Sam Skinner of Skinner Syndication of San Francisco.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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