I desperately wanted Muhammad Ali to win every fight. I had been too young to see “The Fight of the Century” go down but I had seen film. Still in my single digits, Ali was shoveling verbiage and I was eating it up.
The hyperbole and propaganda had stuck with me since Ali v Frazier II. My first Halloween costume and couple of years earlier was a satin robe in black trim with the black construction paper words “The Greatest” sewn on. Vietnam: bad. Everything that was real and rhetoric blended together.
The fight started and I wanted Frazier’s head removed from his body. Blows were flying in waves and the current was raging and unpredictable. The intensity was getting too me. Fortunately, it was getting to Frazier, too. During the fight, I’m watching these two ridiculously skilled but aging boxers throw the kitchen sink at one another and I had started seeing things differently. Ali and Frazier both looked like relatives of mine. There was a complexity behind the fight press turmoil. Ali had called Frazier a “Tom” but had been publicly supported by Frazier during his suspension. Frazier spoke in terms that peppered a different understanding of my fetal world view but here he stood again battling as a champion. He had achieved so much in his endeavors.
It took a lot of blues to catch up to understanding some of the dynamics of emotions and revelations I had watching that fight. Years allowed me to appreciate Joe Frazier’s impact on my understanding of parallax, empathy and irrevocable links. I never met him but he did affect my life.