Thursday, 29 November 2007

Muhammad Ali The Greatest Boxer To Ever Grace The Ring

I have always been a fan of boxing. My favourite boxer? I think the title of this post is a give-away.

My first recollection of Muhammad Ali was when my Indian neighbour was trying pathetically to impress upon my father that Sonny Liston went down from a karate chop. "No la uncle, he gave a karate chop on the neck la uncle". My father just laughed it off. Anyway, would a karate chop be a lethal weapon when you are wearing thick gloves. You see they, those in the west, and the non-Muslims in Malaysia, at that time couldn't accept the fact that a Muslim is the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

What impressed me most about Ali is that he blended lightning speed with grace. He was an entertainer extraodinare in the ring. Yes, he got the gift of the gab and that got to many of those who hated him especilally when he proved in rhymes what round he would floor his opponents and his predictions were cunningly true.

As to whether he is a true Muslim, that is not for me to say. If he was taught to be the Muslim that he is, who am I to say that he is wrong. He may be wrong in someone else's eyes but not to his.

Well lets leave that aside. If I am not mistaken his first fight with Frazier was in 1971. The school rented a tv set and all were ushered into the hall. I think they did it more because the teachers wanted to watch the match then anything else. It was very evident. The Malay/Muslims were all for Ali and the rest, including the teachers mind you were all for Frazier and the Malays left the hall dissapointed after the unanimous decision to give Frazier victory which was justified.

His biggest victory must be the Ali-Foreman extravaganza in Kinshasa Zaire and The Thriller in Manila against Frazier.

When Ali took on Foreman, most fans including me thought that Ali was going to be humiliated. I have seen Foreman's previous fights and he was actually Bullman. In one of his earlier fights he even broke the hand of an opponent who blocked his blows. Such was the awesome power of this boxer turned preacher.

When Ali resorted to leaning against the ropes and allowed Foreman to bomb him with massive blows to the body only to come alive in the last minute of each round, I thought, it won't be long. I was right but in a pleasant way. The rope-a-dope tactic paid off. By the last minute of the 8th round Foreman was a spent force and the rally that Ali produced that hot and humid night was a classic. Foreman hit the canvass and was only up to his knees by the count of 9, a second too late.

The Thriller in Manila which many saw as the contributing factor to him contracting Parkinsons, do you get Parkinsons that way, was a fight between 2 colourful heavyweights. Frazier who incidentally lost his 2nd fight with Ali on a decision, and who was obliterated by Foreman, landed heavy and telling blows on Ali but Ali the master entertainer did not dissapiont. He rained punches and Frazier's corner threw in the towel.

Like many others, Ali could have believed that he was invincible. He went on to fight a few fights too many at the age of 40 and above. He paid the price.

Whatever it is, Ali is, to me, the best boxer to ever grace the ring. The only boxer to ever come close in entertainment value is Sugar Ray Robinson and not surprisingly he adopts an identical fighting style to Ali. A bad eye forced him to retire early.

21 comments:

bergen said...

No doubt about it, cikgu. Ali defined boxing. I believe the sport is no longer as popular as it used to when Ali ruled the ring. I love boxing because it teaches you basic things in a fight how i.e punch and evade. There's no 'buah' to learn and I personally thing 'buah' is a waste of time because chances are you won't remember the 'buah' in a real fight and if you've been in a fight, you know that people don't attack you the way an attack is taught in a class. Boxing teaches you basic human instinct to fight. It's simple. But most don't like it because the training is monotonous. What learn on the first day of class is the same thing that you drill over and over for 20 years.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't want to get into a fight with someone trained in boxing.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Yes, I do wonder sometimes, no one attacks you from the front only when you are facing the front and the back. They don;t wait for the first attacker to finish before going in.

I saw the Ali Inoki fight and realised how afraid Inoki was to get in close coz a boxer's punch can be mighty powerful. He went down and resorted to kicking at Ali's leg, that the match turned into an anti-climax.

Now adays with pay per view, I quit watching boxing, also because there is really no one else worth watching. The present Great White Hopes from, either Russia or Ukraine or is it both is just not interesting enough and anyway I really don't believe whites make good boxers barring maybe Marciano.

tokasid said...

Salam Che'gu:

Bergen and you are both right. Ali is the greatest fighter of all time.Period. He's cool, flair and have the endurance. he doesn't panic and he doesn't allow the high emotions rule him. He just...floats like a butterfly as opposed to Joe Frazier's sondol like a khinzir.

Tyson and Frazier lacks the flair of Ali. They both fight like a gangster's bouncer. They punch and punch and punch so its better to see a bar's brawl.

Yes, there's no bunga in boxing like silat or kungfu or other martial arts. Boxing is about discipline(in training and fighting) and endurance. But there is a pinch of gedebe thrown in too( well most martial arts exponents are gedebe too,right?).

And , yeah..boxing is not the same after ALi.

Ali!Ali!Ali!

Kata Tak Nak said...

Frazier thought he was one tough cookie but I still remember Foreman lifted his whole body off the canvass with a hook. Frazier went down 6 times in 2 rounds and that ended his invincibility.

Pity what has become of the legend Ali now though.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yup...its gotta be Ali, without a shadow of a doubt. caught some repeats of bout involving Ali on espn sometime back.

but if i am asked of my all-time fav, i'd say iron mike. no disrespect to Ali but i grew up watching tyson slugging it out. biggs, ruddock, bowe, spinks all went down after a few knocks from tyson's heavy jab. only tucker survived 12 rounds.

still, for the crown as the world's greatest ever, no way its liston, not foreman, neither tyson nor lennox. its ALI.

monsterball said...

Love watching boxing and stopped after Mike Tyson.
Seems to me, the thrill have gone down so much.
Same on basketball without Micheal Jordan.
Back to boxing....Muhammad Ali is all time best. He got everything.....style...brain...showmanship...gift of the gap.
So sad..he is suffering from Parkinson disease.Otherwise...we all will still enjoy some of his witty speeches..if not boxing.
On the fight with Sonny Liston...one minute knock out...many deemed it as a fixed fight...and Liston was found shot dead few months later.
Yes...had Harun made money with the fight he brought to K.Lumpur...he would have pocket the profit and said it was his personal business venture..but he got greedy and pass the loss to country...and with May 13th 1969 incident...the jail sentence was the last of him in politics.

frankie said...

Cikgu, I never even realized or thought bout Ali being a Muslim an issue. I was in primary school then, and the tv was shown at the school canteen for all the Ali's fight. Those were the days cikgu, Ali on TV and female teachers wore nice dress with nice legs.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Monty,
Yes, Harun brought in a boring White Hope in Bugner.

Do you know that Ali had to prolong the fight becaise the organisers asked him to? They needed the fight to last as long as possible to get the advertisements aired?

Kata Tak Nak said...

Frankie,
I am sorry if I had offended you when I wrote about the non-muslim's apparent dislike for Ali. Maybe I should have included that in.

Hey, when I was in standard 3 there was a Miss Lily and her very short skirts. We use to have reading under a tree where she sits on a chair and all us boys gather and sit in front of her. Could you imagine the shovings to be in front.

Then in secondary school there was miss Westwood. The best view would be from under the stairs.

Anonymous said...

salam Che Gu,

Che Gu who can forget Ms. Westwood. Shes one gorgeous looking bombshell. She was our English teacher and only during her period that everybody was eager to be in front row. She has this habit of sitting on the edge of the table during lesson. By the time shes off from the class, some joker will go up to the blackboard and write...white or pink or red...the colour of her panties. Shes a killer.

kimasapi.

Mat Salo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mat Salo said...

My God Chegu.. is this about 'Dance like a bee, sting like a butterfly?' --eh terbalik, or the color of Miss Westwood's undergarments--what?--40 to 50 years back? Now THAT deserves a post of it's own, eh Chegu?

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

i remember astro's early days when boxing matches were their pulling factor in attracting more subscribers. then came the pay-per-view thing which was affordable with 3 bouts for 19.90. then for some freakin' reason it eventually hikes up more than 100 bucks just to catch holyfield, rahman, lennox, naseem box. ridiculous.

so anyway...errm..aye to MAT SALO.

lets talk about panties!

Kata Tak Nak said...

kimasapi.
So you know westwood too huh? What a body.

Kata Tak Nak said...

MS and Kerpie,
I was in all boys school from std 1 to form 5 so what do you expect. We were like monkeys man. I'll blog about it soon plus a revelation.

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Fly like the butterfly, sting like the bee. Ali, Muhammad Ali.

Those are lyrics of his song, you remember that? A joker, an entertainer, a boxer, a fighter, and a muslim. He had a fight in KL - not one of his greatest - against Joe Bugner, and I managed to get into Stadium Negara to watch one of his training sessions, along with hundreds of schoolchildren from the surrounding area - Victoria Institution, Methodist Boys, St John, Chung Khiaw and a few more. It was magical!

Thank you for putting this up, it sure bring back memories of the man also known as 'Gifted Gab' or something like that :)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Chegu,

New look huh?

"THE GREATEST SINNERS ARE THOSE WHO TURN AWAY AND DO NOTHING"

Wise words, Chegu...I like it...

Anyway, re Muhammad Ali, it's just too bad his career was cut short...Even sadder that he contracted Parkinsons...

I am not a fan of boxing (too painful for me!), but it sure is sad to see such a great man gone to waste...

Kata Tak Nak said...

Cakapaje,
The Bugner fight was only a warm up for Ali. Well, at least you got to see the Big Man himself personally. I can only dream of it.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Daphne,
Would you believe it I got that line from watching CSI New York. It is a yet to be aired episode in Malaysia. Maybe it was a famous line or what but when it was uttered it hit me like a bomb. I said to myself that I must use it for my blog. Its not because it sounds nice, its because I agree with it.

Anonymous said...

salam che gu,

And sorry to everybody for remark on Ms.Westwood. It was suppose to be about Muhammad Ali and I got carried away.

kimasapi.

monsterball said...

When I was watching Ali boxing....I also keep my eyes sharp to look at those sexy girls carrying the round cards....and see if the boxers are distracted by anyone of them.
Then like Frankie said...those female Muslim singers are sure sexy and dress much better than nowadays...so call dress codes for singwers by the government.
Just drop by and watch Indonesian TV on females singers...Indonesia is much more open minded than we are.
Are our government NUTS haters??

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