Of all the famous and hugely hyped boxing matches of all time, this is probably the most famous. Not only is it the most famous, it is one of the best fights of all time and is legendary in the sports world.
The “Thrilla in Manila” was the named given to the famous third and final bout between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier and took place in 1975 in Manila, Philippines. Before we get into that fight and the lead up, I’ll take a little look at the history and rivalry between the two men.
The men had fought two times previous to this meeting (once in 1971 and once in 1974), with each men picking up one win over the other. Outside of the ring, the two men had trash talked back and forth heavily throughout the years and had even gotten in a physical scuffle, it was a clear rivalry and people wanted desperately to see the rubber match.
The fans got their wish as it was announced the two would fight again, but that it would take place in Manila. The reasoning for this venue choice was because Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos wanted the event in Manila (and even offered to sponsor it) in order to divert attention away from the utter social turmoil in the country was expecting after declaring martial law in 1972. Both fighters experienced some issues during the prepaeration as Frazier and his team did not do well with the extreme heat, the social tension and the hordes of people, while Ali ha a much different distraction. His distraction was that he introduced his mistress as his wife to the President, which led to his real wife to actually fly to Manila and get in a heated shouting match with Ali.
Once the dust had settled, it was time for the fight to take place. Unfortuinately for the fighters and trainers, the fight took place at 10 AM local time to make it better for the viewing audience around the world. This meant that it was incredibly hot during the fight and legend claims is was upwards of 120 degrees in the ring (after taking account of the extra lights and such). Ali also claims it was so hot that he lost 5 pounds throughout the duration of the fight.
The fight itself was legendary in every sense of the word. The fight began by Ali dominating and trash talking during fight ad made it look like he would walk away with the fight. However, in the middle rounds, it looked like Frazier had the upper hand as he stormed back with his power. The two traded blows round after round and excited the crowd and the millions watching around the world. However, near the later rounds Ali began to dominate once again and led Frazier’s team to throw in the towel before the 15th round.
Both men gave all they could in the ring and what Frazier’s corner didn’t know is that Ali was extremely close to quitting the fight as well as he was exhausted and claimed that this fight was the closest he ever felt to death. This fight solidified the two as absolute legends and both men put on a show that boxing fans will never forget.