Muhammad Ali faced the champion Joe Frazier in the Fight of the Century on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Ringside seats cost $150 and each boxer was guaranteed $2.5 million.
Big money in 1971.
Big money now many places in the world.
The bettors were favoring Ali over Frazier.
Ali was taller with a longer reach.
I was a hippie.
I wanted Ali to regain his title.
His resistance to the draft was a key factor in popularizing the anti-war movement, but Frazier was no lackey to the Boss. He supported Ali throughout his exile from the ring. The heavyweight never said anything about this charity, probably to prevent joining Ali on the unemployment line.
Everyone watched his fight.
I was sitting at El Phoenix bar on Commonwealth Avenue.
Everyone in the bar was backing Ali.
Dave the bartender was all-Frazier. He took all bets at all odds.
“Ali likes to predict the rounds of his KOs. I say 15 and Frazier puts Ali on his ass and this has nothing to do with politics.” Boston was severely divided on race and war. We didn’t talk that shit in bars. Someone on the wrong side could get hurt too fast. Dave didn’t have to worry. He was the bartender. We needed him more than a winning a point about a war 8000 miles away from LA.
I placed $10 on Ali.
The fight started out with the challenger scoring points in the first three rounds.
Frazier resisted Ali’s defense and brought the fight to the Louisville native.
In the 11th round Frazier blasted Ali.
A wicked left.
Frazier was no joke.
Ali knew that too late.
$10 was a lot of money in 1971.
Dave the bartender won $2050 that evening.
He bought a used GTO the next day and called it ‘Joe’.
We all did.
Joe was the champ.
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This is history.