(subject to change)
The man called Joe Frazier
The Frazier-Ali feud
The sad tale of Patterson I
Joe Frazier: In the beginning
Muhammad Ali: In the beginning
The Frazier-Foreman fight
The sad tale of Patterson II
The sad tale of Patterson III
The Thrilla in Manila
Frazier: life goes on
Ali, Liston and Malcolm X
Mike Tyson goes to war
The sad tale of Teddy Atlas
'I do not believe God put us here to hate one another. I believe the Muslim preaching of segregation, hatred rebellion, and violence is wrong. What religion teaches that? By preaching such propaganda an not flatly condemning the murder of Malcolm X, who quit the Muslims, Cassius Clay is disgracing himself and the Negro race'
As a fighter Ali was suddenly alone.The heavyweight division was not quite barren, but damn close. Liston had been thoroughly demystified. There were no calls for a third fight. Who had the stomach for that? And who else was there to challenge Ali? Cleveland Williams? Eddie Machen? Liston had destroyed them. Ali joked that he was dying to find a Great White Hope to fight; a strong white contender, he said, would jack up the purse as no black opponent could. I fact, in 1966, he would fight, and defeat four white opponents: George Chuvalo (the toughest of the lot), Henry Cooper, Brian London, and Karl Mildenberger.Ali, however, had a more serious challenger to deal with first, one who ha genuinely angered him-Floyd Patterson.
To Ali, who had learned from Malcolm X, Patterson represented the toadying posture of old-style Negro politics. Patterson was the integrationist, the accommodationist, the symbol of sit-ins and interracial marraige. This was late 1965, not long after the riots in the Watts ghetto in Los Angeles - an event that signaled the deep dissatisfaction with integrationist, reform politics, and event that seemed to endorse Malcolm X's call to seize power 'by any means necessary.' To many young blacks, especially , the Patterson model was an object of pity.
The sad tale of Patterson III
The Patterson-Ali I fight
A series of threads about Frazier, Ali, Patterson and Tyson
He had been discovered by the mystic Cus D’Amato.
.....who said he often floated out-of-body on the ceiling. There
was something vulpine about Floyd, and it might be said that he had the only careerist approach in boxing annals along with Archie Moore. He was dead set on lasting. While the fans and critics would kick him like a sad-eyed mutt one month and then join him the next in his personal salvation (boxing was spiritual to him), there was always the sense of Floyd sitting in an armchair and squinting through pince-nez at ring fluctuations. To sit and talk with him was a delight, though at times there were colliding emotions; you either wanted to put your arm around him or give him a therapeutic slap in the face. In a moment, you were adrift in the middle of a Russian novel, in a Chekhovian dacha, oppressive heat, the taste of bitter tea, in the middle of souls looking for clarity in a suffusion of grayness. Let’s pass on his childhood, it could make you cry.
Leave it with adolescent Floyd slashing an X through his picture and telling his mother: “I don’t like him.” Big names, including Frank Sinatra, were drawn to him. Liberals adored him, crowned him a man of brains and race vision. His pluck was inspiring, a fighter, like a skilled repairman trying to build a skyscraper. His instant shame baffled. After a title
match, he always had two cars waiting, the victory car pointed to his hotel, the defeat car pointed out of town; he was partial to disguises Physically, Floyd, lithe and small, didn’t look like a heavyweight at all. There was no promise of consequence. He fought out of D’Amato’s “peekaboo” style, gloves nearly shielding his eyes, had superb hand speed and cheap crockery for a jaw. He had the eyes of a safe******* with no nerve; quite the contrary, though. He had a stiff billow of kinky hair that seemed pasted down on his forehead. The press loved him. Floyd might be the lost child of Freud, but he dealt in specifics of the grim trade. Clay was purely thin artifice, a windy fanatic for whom boxing came second, a senseless provocateur. He had dropped by Patterson's training camp in upstate New York with an armful of lettuce and carrots, shouting that he wanted nothing more than to drive 'The rabbit' back into his hole. 'You're nothing but an Uncle Tom Negro, a white man's Negro, a yellow Negro,' Ali taunted. 'You quit twice to Liston. Get into the ring and I'll lick you now.'
In preparation for the fight, Ali stayd at the la Morocco Hotel in Las Vegas and trained harder than he had to. He had not yet reached the stage of his career when he would parcel out his time and energy carefully; what was more, he really did want to destroy Patterson. He had his sparring partner, Cody Jones, ape Patterson's moves while Ali's brother Rahaman would come in later to pound away at the champions body even though Patterson was not likely to do so.
Usually Patterson was available for reporters but as fight week approached he became shut off, aloof. Rumors circulated around town that Patterson had once more brought his old disgiuses to the arena.
'The country is counting on you'
Sinatra called Floyd to his suite.
Sinitra was very nice that morning, very encouraging.“He told me I could win,” Floyd
said, “had to win. The whole country was counting on me.”
Held in Vegas, the title fight would be the most politically exclamatory of Ali’s career. That night, Clay looked down at the press and said: “Watch closely. I’m gonna show you real punishment.” To show his superiority, Clay did not throw a single punch in the first round. He then picked up the beat, strafing Floyd with straight lefts.
He began to taunt:
“Come on America, come on white America!”
He did what he pleased. Floyd seemed impaired, something was wrong. He was decked in the sixth, got up quickly. After the seventh, his trainer hugged and lifted him to ease the pain in Floyd’s back. He went on gamely, and the fight turned quickly into a spectacle of cruelty, nastiness being applied to an invalid. “Get him out of there!” Dundee screamed, sensing the crowd’s anger. It wasn’t stopped until the twelfth, with Floyd, suffering mightily from the back pain, leaving the ring draped over his seconds. What the country had seen was a certain kind of bullfight, where unimaginative passes prolong the ceremony too long and subordinate the kill. Seeing Floyd in pain and outclassed, it wanted a quick, clean finish, not a class in how to pull off a butterfly’s wings.
Floyd gimped to Sinatra’s suite the next night to apologize, and bumped into
human nature. Frank moved to the far side of the room, away from Floyd, sat down, his back “all the way over there to me. I got the message.
Public outcry was instant. Sensing his embryonic mythos
once more in ruins, Clay said to the press: “Okay, what’s the excuse
now? Fix? Carrying him? Give it to me! He took my best punches!
My hands are swollen.” After what he had done to someone whose
only mistake was being an integrator, a Martin Luther King man, he
was no longer drawn as an out-of-control kid, a rhetorical belch. He
became real as well as an insult to whatever integrity boxing had.
The press was foaming once again. Wrote Jimmy Cannon: “It
seemed right that Cassius Clay had a good time beating up another
Negro. This was fun, like chasing them down with dogs and knocking
them down with streams of water. What kind of clergyman is he?