Bouts of Mania Ali, Frazier, Foreman and an America on the Ropes By Richard Hoffer
Release date: 01st September, 2014
Publisher: Aurum Press
Our Price: £15.19
You Save: £4.81 (24%)
Periods of radical, almost revolutionary, political, social and economic change have long been fertile backdrops for thousands of stories, but when the foreground is occupied by the greatest sportsman who ever lived, the combination, as Richard Hoffer proves, is electric.
Muhammad Ali, undisputed world heavyweight champion, had reigned supreme between 1964 and 1967, but was stripped of his title by boxing’s ruling bodies when he refused to be drafted into military service. “I got nothing against no Viet Cong” was his oft-repeated mantra, perhaps America’s most prescient political statement in a generation.
In the vacuum created by Ali’s enforced absence, Joe Frazier, a smaller man, but considerably more brutal fighter, assumed the world crown and in March 1971, the pair met at New York’s Madison Square Gardens for one of the most eagerly-anticipated title fights in boxing history.
Prior to the contest, Ali called Frazier an ‘Uncle Tom’ and riled his opponent so much that in the dressing rooms before the fight, Frazier knelt and prayed. “Lord help me kill this man,” he implored, “because he’s not righteous.”
It took Frazier 15 ferocious rounds to nail Ali, a man, remember, who had been absent from the ring for almost four years. That Ali got up off the canvas to see out the final round was not only courageous, it was miraculous.
Cue George Foreman, the third character in this magnificent drama, who, in January 1973, beat Frazier inside two rounds to become world heavyweight champion.
Considering the hiding he had taken off Frazier, it seemed there was no way back for Ali, not against a man whose three world title fights had lasted a total of just five rounds. Yet in 1974, Foreman and Ali met in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Kinshasa where Ali was expected to suffer a heavy defeat. His incredible ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy saw him take literally everything Foreman had and, improbably, once the champion had punched himself out, Ali turned the tables and knocked him out in the eighth round. Incredibly, Ali was world champion again.
Hoffer guides us through a period of intense upheaval in American society with the touch of an historian, but never loses sight of his primary role – that of an outstanding writer of the most absorbing sports’ stories. Buy this book.
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