» » Thrilla in Manila (2008)

Thrilla in Manila (2008) Online

Thrilla in Manila (2008) Online
Original Title :
Thrilla in Manila
Genre :
Movie / Documentary / Sport
Year :
Directror :
John Dower
Cast :
Joe Frazier,Marvis Frazier,Thomas Hauser
Writer :
John Dower
Type :
Time :
1h 40min
Rating :
Thrilla in Manila (2008) Online

On October 1, 1975, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali was in the ring with his arch rival Joe Frazier for the third time. This fight in the Philippines, which has been nicknamed "Thrilla in Manila," is considered one of the most dramatic boxing matches in history - in the words of the voice-over, "They hated each other." With the help of archive material and eyewitness accounts (including Imelda Marcos), this documentary not only reconstructs the match, but shows us what was happening behind the scenes as well.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Frazier Joe Frazier - Himself
Marvis Frazier Marvis Frazier - Himself
Thomas Hauser Thomas Hauser - Himself
Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali - Himself (archive footage)
Ronnie Nathanielz Ronnie Nathanielz - Himself
Ferdie Pacheco Ferdie Pacheco - Himself
Ferdinand Marcos Ferdinand Marcos - Himself (archive footage)
Imelda Marcos Imelda Marcos - Herself
David Wolf David Wolf - Himself - Frazier's Camp
Butch Lewis Butch Lewis - Himself
Buster Mathis Buster Mathis - Himself (archive footage)
Stanley R. Hochman Stanley R. Hochman - Himself - Philadelphia Inquirer
Sunni Khalid Sunni Khalid - Himself
Richard Nixon Richard Nixon - Himself (archive footage)
Michael Parkinson Michael Parkinson - Himself (archive footage)

User reviews



The story of how Joe Frazier did everything he could to help a blacklisted Ali, lending him money, campaigning for his reinstatement to the boxing world when he had been shut out for refusing to serve in the US Army... and how Ali, it seems, never forgave him for it, and attempted to destroy Frazier as a fighter and as a man.

For those who, like me, grew up thinking of Ali as a flawless hero, a cross between Jesus and Elvis, this is quite a shocking story, but those comments above which complain that this film is biased towards Frazier are clearly not watching it attentively. There are no winners here - Ali's moral cowardice, his inability to ever apologise to Frazier for the racial taunting that effectively ruined the man's life, is more than matched by the cold, ugly bitterness that Frazier displays towards his nemesis. The story is as dark and comfortless as any Greek tragedy - these two men's lives were destroyed by their rivalry. One is rich, world-famous and locked into a crippled body; the other is poor, forgotten and healthy, but lives every day trapped in the past and in his unchanging enmity.

A stunning, mesmerising piece of work.


I loved the documentary When We Were Kings when it came out but it seems that director John Dower didn't like the fact that Ali was rather elevated in that film in the way that he has been for most of the time since his boxing career ended. Certainly for me and most of my generation, Ali is the epitome of the fast-talking sports star, a true character who produced some great fights and this film confirms some of that while also throwing a slightly harsher light on him. It does this by looking specifically at the relationship between Ali and Joe Frazier, the latter of whom still lives in a room behind his gym in a rundown area of Philadelphia.

The similarities in style between this film and We Were Kings (WWWK) are mostly cosmetic things and are mostly good things but the main difference is in the content. The first film focused on the fight lifting up the black community and having such a cultural impact. However this film focuses more on the negative side of Ali's trash talking and the products of this – a brutal fight and buckets of acrimony. The structure of the film builds to the retelling of the fight in the same way as WWWK by focusing on the social consequence and specifics of the build up before getting to a talk-through of the actual fight itself. Here it does a good job of showing the significance of what Ali was saying – attacking Frazier's "blackness", calling him racial names and so on. When I say a good job I mean that it helps the modern viewer understand the impact of his words – specifically the historical context in which these things were said.

I found this fascinating and the only slight downside is that there is nobody really to speak on behalf of the Ali camp and you can tell that the film has been put together with a certain amount of seeking to redress the balance and give a voice to Frazier. With that it mind, and the clear presentation of the "facts", it is hard not to feel for Frazier, who still to this day has a fighter's heart but also a real bitter streak. This is perhaps not particularly palatable to see but the film leaves it there for us to see nonetheless, as it should. The overall presentation is good, with the fight footage well blended with talking heads and plenty of good soundtrack selections. I thought it was a very good idea to have people watching the fight during the film – specifically Frazier himself – as this did produce some interesting moments.

WWWK is the accessible boxing documentary that everyone knows about but this film is equally as good, even if the rather bitter subject matter is not as fun and uplifting as that film. The structure and presentation is good and the makers present a bitter and tense conflict in a way that is engaging and sympathetic. Nobody really comes out of it well but so be it. Could have done with a little more from the Ali camp during the film but this is a minor niggle and it engages easily.


2009 Sundance Film Festival In 1975, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier staged their third and final battle in the capital of the Philippines. Ali, in his infamous promoting of himself and ticket sales, dubbed it "The Thriller in Manilla." They had split their first two fights, and by this time Ali was considered the heavy favorite, with many (including Ali's camp) believing Frazier was washed up. It turned out to be an epic contest, one of the greatest heavyweight bouts of all time. Ali won when Frazier's camp threw in the towel after the 14th round, although witnesses reveal that Ali was perhaps even less able to answer the bell for the 15th round.

Ali went on to become a mythic figure, the public believing his self-proclaimed title "The greatest fighter of all time." Later, stricken by Parkinson's disease, he became universally beloved, virtually worshiped across the globe. In contrast, Joe Frazier has been almost forgotten, the victim of Ali's public insults and degradations, as well as two-out-of-three losses against Ali. The Thriller in Manilla examines the fight and the events leading up to it from Smokin' Joe's perspective. It's a tale that has never really been told, but was commissioned by the BBC and is likely to show on HBO this year.

It's a fascinating story. Frazier at his prime was every bit the match for Ali, as the record shows. Further, the fight in Manilla was so close that it could easily have gone either way. Yet Ali is an icon and Frazier lives in an apartment above his old gym in the roughest section of North Philadelphia.

Director John Dower admitted to the Sundance crowd he approached the film with an agenda—a project sympathetic to Joe and willing to take a few politically incorrect shots at Ali (who , as expected, refused the offer to be involved). Gen X and Y moviegoers unfamiliar with the participants may find the subject matter lacks relevance. But for those of us old enough to remember, this was more than a boxing rivalry, and Thriller in Manilla provides a fascinating perspective into one of the most politically charged athletic events in American history. As the movie accurately depicts, Ali vs. Frazier was ideological warfare—the cocky anti-war Muslim who claimed to speak for Black America against (Ali's words) the ignorant negro Uncle Tom who looked like a gorilla and did the white man's bidding. And unfortunately for Mr. Frazier, Ali made the labels stick. Frazier has never forgiven Ali for that. And he has never recovered from it.


What's the greatest boxing film ever made? Rocky? Raging Bull? Million Dollar Baby? Up until now, I would have said When We Were Kings was the contender for best boxing film ever made, but having seen Thriller in Manila I'm not so sure.

When We Were Kings tells the story behind the George Foreman/Muhammad Ali title fight (billed as the Rumble in The Jungle), which took place in Zaire in 1974. Thriller in Manila (as that fight was hyped), recounts the story leading up to the world heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and 'Smokin' Joe Frazier. Both films use extensive footage of each title fight to drive home the power of their stories.

And what a fight the contest in Manila was. Fourteen brutal rounds beginning at 10am on a hot, humid Manila morning, just so the folks back home in America could watch it live in the comfort of their lounge rooms.

By 1975 when the fight took place, both men were at their peak as boxers. They had met on two previous occasions, each coming away with one win. Now they were going head to head, for the third and final time. What unfolded in the searing heat of Manila is now considered one of the greatest boxing matches of all time.

This documentary tells its story through the battered eyes of Joe Frazier. It makes extensive use of archival footage, and numerous interviews with many of the surviving key personnel involved in both Ali and Frazier's support teams, including Ali's ringside doctor, and one of Frazier's corner-men.

It shows Ali at his best and his worst, as he stalks Joe Frazier with racial taunts of 'Uncle Tom', as "ignorant", and through constant references to Frazier as a "gorilla". For Ali, this was all part of the 'mental game of boxing', and he was a master of it. He knew how to psyche an opponent out, and he was using every weapon in his arsenal to try and put Frazier off his game. But Frazier was having none of it.

Finally, when all the bluff and swagger, the arrogance and taunts, the hokey poems, and the hours of training are over, all you are left with is the ultimate physical contest between two men inside a boxing ring.

It was probably the first time that Ali had stood head to head with an opponent and slugged it out. No fancy dancing, no jokes or smart quips to the crowd – and no mercy or surrender. By the fourteenth round, both men were physically and mentally exhausted. Joe Frazier could barely see through his puffed and swollen eyes, and Ali's body had taken such pounding to his kidneys, heart and liver that it was beginning to shut down (Frazier states in the documentary, that his constant pounding around the area of these vital organs was a deliberate attempt on his part to inhibit Ali's ability to fight).

In the end, the fight finished not with a bang, but a whimper. Although Joe Fazier wanted to go out for the fifteenth and final round, his trainers would not let him. You can see him in the television footage refusing time and again, to throw in the towel, but his trainer, who had the final call, made the decision that gave the fight to Ali.

In Ali's corner, a separate drama was taking place. Ali had gone back to his seat and demanded that his gloves be 'cut off', a clear sign that he had had enough. Ali was prepared to give the fight to Frazier, but his trainers refused.

One can only speculate now whether Ali would have refused to fight the last round with Frazier. History on the other records that Muhammad Ali won the 'Thriller in Manila'.

One of the most poignant aspects of the film is watching Joe Frazier's face as he in turn watches a film of the boxing match. You see him re-fighting every round with Ali, adding little comments here and there; taking the blows one more time.

While Muhammad Ali went on to make millions by selling his image to a host of advertisers, and through numerous lucrative product endorsements, Joe Frazier still lives humbly above the gym that bears his name in a poverty ridden suburb of Philadelphia.

At 63 years of age (when he was interviewed for this documentary), Joe Frazier does not make a good poster boy for the sport of boxing – and Muhammad Ali even less so. Both have been ravaged, physically and mentally by the constant pounding of sledgehammer-like blows to their heads, and yet I suspect that if either men were asked today, neither of them would probably have any regrets.

This film makes the perfect companion piece to When We Were Kings, which tells the story of arguably the greatest boxer in the history of the sport. Thriller in Manila, on the other hand, looks at this myth through the eyes of one of Ali's greatest opponents, and casts an altogether different light on the man and the myth.

My only reservation about the film is that it is told almost entirely from Joe Frazier's point of view. Of course, Ali himself, is no longer in any position mentally to present his side of the story. In many respects, his own words and actions speak for themselves, and viewers will have to be satisfied with these.

Over the intervening years since that great contest, Ali to his credit, has apologised on several occasions for his racial jibes against Joe Frazier, acknowledging that he had gone too far. Frazier for his part, seems to still harbour resentment for the way he was treated by Ali, and feels that Ali is now paying the price for his arrogance.


I think the biggest problem with this documentary, and most documentaries on Ali is that he's not in a state to talk about the events himself, so you get a lot of third hand knowledge. This documentary opened my eyes to some things, like how despicable the Nation of Islam was, and how they essentially messed up his career by making him resist the draft to Vietnam and making him think call Frazier an uncle Tom and "the enemy" as Ali puts it. There are some weird clips here, especially the part where Ali is making jokes about being on the same side as the Klu Klux Klan. This is especially strange considering all of the lynchings they performed in the south.

It's hard to say though how much of Ali's taunting were truly of a cruel nature and how much was for publicity, because Ali was brilliant at promotion. This is demonstrated by the fact that his name is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and Frazier is living in a small room above a gym. It could be that the Nation of Islam was filling him with hatred towards Frazier so he would be more motivated to win, after all they were friends in the 60's.

However, the part of this movie that is kind of messed up is how it portrays Frazier as being robbed in Manila. If you watch the fight, you will see that Frazier was clearly being dominated in the 14th round and could no longer defend himself. There are all these third hand accounts on the Frazier side talking about how sad it was and how he could have continued. Well, it's the reason they have trainer's in the corner is that most of the time a fighter doesn't know how close they are to being permanently damaged or killed. Futch knew that Ali was ahead in points anyway, so there was no point. There is a lot of people talking about how Ali wouldn't have gone back out there if Frazier didn't quit. I think this is bunk, if Ali came that far, there's no way he's sitting down in the 15th. He just would have gone out, scored so more points and then collapsed as he did when the fight was called (at that point your mind relinquishes it's control and the body takes over).

Ferdia Percheco comes off as a total jerk in this documentary, calling everybody stupid, including Frazier, who he says he doesn't want to step on. yeah right. At least Frazier had the brains to retire when it was time, instead of Ali who kept going way past his prime.

And as a side note, Larry Holmes can say that Ali was overrated when he fought him in '81 Ali was already washed up and his Parkinsons had already started. That's just pure ignorance.

Anyway, this movie is pretty good, slightly below "Facing Ali" but better than "When we Were Kings". Just take it with a grain of salt.


Thrilla in Manila: 8 out of 10: This is what great documentaries are all about, changing ones perception by teaching something new. Thrilla in Manila also has that British tradition of targeting the preconceived notion without remorse. The sacred cow in target this time is that American icon Muhammad Ali. The film uses Ali’s only real nemesis Joe Frazier as its tool.

Thrilla opens up in North Philadelphia in a dilapidated gym in the midst of a ghetto where Joe Frazier lives and works. My first thought was what happened? My second thought; so this where Sly Stallone cribbed his last six Rocky movies; I loved the last Rocky Balboa film but thought Stallone’s characters borderline poverty lifestyle unrealistic… I clearly stand corrected.

The film does an excellent job finding relevant interviews with everyone from Imelda Marcos to Ali’s fight doctor. In addition the movie integrates the fight footage in a way few documentaries have (You can feel the heat of Manila in the ring).

This film asks a simple question. Why is Muhammad Ali rich, famous, and beloved? While Joe Frazier toils in poverty? The film then paints Ali in a most unflattering light. Claiming he is a racist and a member of a cult. All of this is very well documented, with Ali discussing his own participation in Ku Klux Klan meetings a real revelation. Ali is shown attacking Joe for being too black and strangely enough an Uncle Tom of all things. In addition, Ali is shown calling Joe ignorant, ugly and a gorilla.

Ali is clearly the villain in this piece and Frazier is the victim. Yet a strange thing happens over the hour and a half. The more Frazier brags on how his punches caused Ali’s current mental and physical state one cannot help but wonder that Ali’s blows caused as much permanent damage to Frasier in the form of bitterness and self-destruction.

Here is a film giving Frazier a chance to display his own self in a good light and pull himself and his family out of poverty. Instead, he comments, while watching Ali light the Olympic torch that he wished Muhammad would fall in and burn to death. Ali’s doctor got one thing right; Joe Frazier is a stupid man.


Several weeks ago, there was a special presentation of this documentary at an event to honor the memory of Smokin' Joe Frazier. Legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum spoke at the function, and although Arum prefaced his remarks by paying homage to the late Joe Frazier, he harshly criticized this documentary, bluntly calling it "disgusting" and an "unfair attack" on Muhammad Ali. However, Arum hit the nail on the head regarding this film, which, as another reviewer on the Web site accurately characterizes, is just "a piece of revisionist propaganda."

There are a slew of inaccuracies, myths, and half-truths presented in this documentary, so much so that if I were to address them all, this review would be the length of a book. However, I would like to dispel several of the most significant myths that this biased documentary perpetuates:

Documentary Myth: During Ali's exile, Joe Frazier nobly helped Ali out by giving him money and diligently lobbying to help Ali get his license reinstated.

Facts: Yes, during Ali's exile from boxing, Frazier would, on occasion, lend money to Ali and even went to great lengths to help Ali get his license back. But he didn't do so for magnanimous reasons, like it's portrayed in this documentary. Joe wanted a mega million dollar fight and knew that a bout with Ali would result in a huge fight payday, given Ali's high name recognition and stature. He facilitated Ali's return to boxing because he perceived Ali as his ticket to Ft. Knox, which is what Ali became. But Joe's "noble" gestures in helping Ali were for his own personal gain, not Ali's welfare.

Documentary Myth: By calling Joe "ugly" or " gorilla," Ali was making racial epithets.

Facts: True, Ali did call Frazier "ugly," but he also called Sonny Liston, Leon Spinks, and Larry Holmes "ugly" during pre-fight stages of his bouts with them as well. (He probably called Liston ugly more times than Frazier. Just view some old footage of everything leading up to the first Liston bout.) In addition to proclaiming to be "The Greatest," Ali would often boast to the press, in a jovial manner, that he was "pretty" and most fighters were "ugly."

It has to be understood that in addition to being a master boxer, Ali was also a master showman and fight promoter. The name calling wasn't meant to serve as personal attacks, and Ali's boasting of his boxing ability and his appearance wasn't conceit, contrary to popular myth. He just used narcissism to promote bouts, a marketing ploy he learned from watching pro wrestlers.

And yes, Ali did call Frazier "The Gorilla" before their third fight. But here again, it was a situation in which Frazier was not singled out because Ali had always created monikers for his opponents as a gimmick to promote fights. He called Frazier "The Gorilla" before their third fight, but he also coined Sonny Liston "The Big Ugly Bear," Floyd Patterson "The Rabbit," George Chuvalo "The Washerwoman," George Foreman "The Mummy," and Ernie Shavers "The Acorn" (a reference to Shaver's bald head).

Given this pattern, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Ali was creating monikers as a promotional gimmick, not as racial taunts. He applied it to many fighters, not just Frazier; it was just that Frazier was the only Ali opponent who spent his entire life whining about it.

Documentary Myth: The Nation of Islam, of which Ali was a member, and the Klu Klux Klan wanted to form a pact and Muhammad Ali spoke at a Klu Klux Klan Rally.

Facts: There's minimal evidence to support this documentary's claim that the KKK and the NOI wanted to collaborate. As for Ali speaking at a Klan rally, there's also no credible evidence to substantiate this assertion, and it most likely never happened. Being that Ali at the time was nothing more than arguably the world's most famous human being, surely news of Ali speaking at such an event would have inevitably leaked to the press. Add to that, the irony of an Afrocentric Muhammad Ali speaking at a rally of white supremacists would have made for such a sensational and controversial news story that virtually every news medium in the world would have reported it, and most likely it would have been a lead story. The long and short of it all is that the media would have had a field day with something like this. Yet there is no film or photographic record of this, nor is there any news report on record of this at all.

The documentary shows a film clip of Ali in an interview supposedly admitting to speaking at a KKK rally. However, the film footage has obviously been edited. Ali was most likely making these remarks as part of a gag. He was always one to clown and joke around, even while being interviewed.

I could go on and on about the myths, biased assertions, and falsehoods perpetuated in this documentary, such as implausible testimonies, a fabricated analysis of the Ali-Frazier fight trilogy, manipulated film footage, and Larry Holmes lying through his teeth by saying that Ali was "overrated" as a fighter even though, ironically, Holmes had always publicly proclaimed that Ali was his idol. But, unfortunately, IMDb imposes a 1,000-word limit for its reviews.

But the bottom line is that the "Thriller in Manila" documentary is, as Bob Arum states, "chock full of inaccuracies and is designed to demean Muhammad Ali" And as he also states, you can watch this documentary if you want, "but don't believe a word that's being said."


I would like to start by saying this documentary is NOT biased against Casius Clay/Muhammad Ali - it's just that it isn't pro Ali like all the other films/documentaries about his fights such as 'Ali' (Will Smith), 'When we were kings' and 'Ali the Greatest' which are all heavily in his favour with only minimal points of view from his opponents. This is Smokin' Joe Fraziers point of view on their friendship, bitter fall-out, legendary fights and the hatred that still exists (at least on Joe's part). This was not a BBC/HBO production as said elsewhere, it was a Channel 4 production and aired on British TV before the DVD came out.

Some of the more eye-opening parts of this documentary are Joe helping Clay/Ali to get his boxing license back and giving him money when Ali was broke, Joe fighting most of his pro career being partial sighted in one eye, Ali going to Joe's hotel in Manila at night and firing a replica gun at his window, the shear amount of abuse Ali dished out to his ex friend including calling him 'Uncle Tom', 'dumb Gorilla' etc... The first two fights are lightly covered, it is pointed out Joe was the first to beat Ali and the referee favoured Ali in the rematch and allowed him to clinch, push and pull his way to victory over Frazier. Back to the third fight which this DVD is all about and we learn Joe's trainer Eddie Futch stopped the fight in the 14th round as he had seen eight fighters die in the ring and didn't want Joe to be the next as he was fighting blind towards the end of the match. Ali was also finished, telling his corner men to cut his gloves off before collapsing in the ring but technically he still won. Joe is still bitter about how Ali betrayed him and although he dosen't say he is glad Ali has Parkingsons (he simply says what goes around comes around), he does say half joking that Ali should have been pushed in the Olympic flame and his brother lets the interviewer listen to Joe's mobile phone answer phone message which does seem to taunt Ali about his condition. His son Marvis explains Ali apologised to him and asked him to pass the message on to his father Joe but as Ali made no effort to say sorry to Joe's face, he never accepted the apology.

The biggest revelation on the 86mins main feature is footage of Ali talking about his time as guest speaker for the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)! Ali was converted to the Nation of Islam after beating Sonny Liston which is when he decided to change his name from Casius Clay. The Nation of Islam are extreme black supremacists who preach that white people are 'devils' and blacks will dominate the earth, indeed even his ex doctor Ferdie Pacheao says they used him for their own advantage and his ex trainer Angelo Dundee is also on record as saying they were nothing but a bad influence on him although the later isn't on this DVD. They are simply the KKK in a different colour and as such they shared similar beliefs in segregation of the races and held some meetings together in the 70's. Ali became an unofficial spokesman for the Nation of Islam and speaks openly about the mighty sight of burning crosses and white hoods who cheer him when he says blacks should stay with blacks and whites with whites (Ali had a number of relations with White non-Muslim women throughout his life). This was really shocking and sheds new light on the superstar. Imagine a white world champ with KKK bodyguards!

There are over 20 speakers on this DVD including the eccentric Ferdie Pacheao who gives the Ali camp point of view from the legendary fight. Other contributors include Larry Holmes and Marvis Frazier (Joe's son). The grumpy Holmes says beating Marvis was easy while Marvis gets tearful speaking about how he lost to Holmes. This part is on the DVD extra's which are 25mins long. The extras also look at Joe's gym and an interview with Chandler Williams who see's Joe as a father figure and has just come out of an eight year stretch for Armed Robbery. Larry Holmes makes very interesting comments about Ali such as he was over-rated, one of the greats but not THE great and how easy it was to beat him when they met in the early 80's ''people was saying he washed up but I was 52, 54 still winning and he was 38. Come on, it was easy like robbing a bank without a gun, just walk in and take the money''. Lastly on the extras I realised how much 'Rocky' was based on Fraziers life. Before I thought it was somehow based on Rocky Marciano's life but the only real similarities are Stallone and Marciano are both American Italians. Frazier lived and still does live in a deprived Philidelpha neighbourhood, he worked as a butcher and used to punch lumps of beef, he trained on the famous steps which Stallone runs up in his film and Stallone even copied his hat and slurred, lazy way of speaking (the result of being punched in the head for a living). To top it all, there is a statue of 'Rocky' and no tribute at all to Joe in the city.

Overall this is one for sports fans of all ages to understand two such famous fighters although those expecting an Ali tribute will be let down! Optional subtitles, rated '15'. As Larry Holmes says ''Ali was ONE of the greatest'' alongside Heavyweights Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Paterson, Joe Louis, George Foreman, Sonny Liston, Henry Cooper, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and.....Smokin' Joe Frazier!


I was excited to hear Joe Frazier's side of the story. However, this documentary is so one sided that it loses it's credibility in it's first 15 minutes.

Early on, Joe Frazier claims that Parkinson's Disease is Muhammad Ali's punishment for the way Ali behaved early in life. That's just disgraceful. The film seems to be trying to rewrite history, to cast Joe Frazier in a kinder light. But it backfires by exposing the bottomless well of bitterness and resentment that fuels the endless complaining done by Joe Frazier and his camp throughout the film.

And I think Ferdie Pacheco is the most entertaining thing in the movie. He calls out the filmmakers for their lack of knowledge of their subject numerous times, and at one point asks "Are you in boxing at all? I mean, are you coming from covering the stock market or something?" Right on, Ferdie.


This HBO documentary is a no holds barred hatchet job on Muhammad Ali, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Nationalist movement. The film's historic narrative is juvenile at best and its portrayal of Joe Frazier is delusional.

The film is not a chronicle of the third and brutal fight between Ali and Frazier but more an embarrassing valentine to Joe Frazier. And then piling it on, Director John Tower includes an out-of-nowhere cameo by a fat and arrogant Larry Holmes who dismisses Ali as an overrated fighter.

"God marks it down," says Frazier of Ali's taunting him over the years... Frazier sees Ali's Parkinson's as divine retribution and likes to think of himself as the Lord's soldier who carried out the retribution: "I'm the guy who closed down the butterfly lips."

A sick thought from a sad man recounted in a piece of revisionist propaganda.


BBC/HBO documentary about the Joe Frazier/Muhammad Ali series of fights that ended in their third battle in Manila, which many people say is the greatest fight ever. The film has a slant toward Joe Frazier since he is in the film and Ali is not.

This is another excellent documentary from HBO Sports via the BBC. It looks at the battle of wills between two fighters and the feud that almost killed them both. Its clear that something special happened when the two men met in the ring since each man was made something greater as the result. The talking heads put the battle in to a context of boxing, the human cost when two huge egos crash into each other and the open wounds and rawness of the civil rights movement affected society.

For me the interesting thing is that the film, which is admittedly slanted towards Frazier, makes it clear why many people didn't like Ali. We see and hear of Ali's antics outside of the ring that made his fights more often than not a circus. Frazier never has forgiven Ali for what he said about him (he called him a gorilla and said he was an uncle tom) and as I said to my Dad, this is one case where I completely understand why Frazier hates Ali and why Ali's efforts to put it right have fallen short. I am a fan of Ali but this film removes some of the air brushing that time has done to Ali's reputation.

If you like boxing, or more importantly want to see an excellent documentary see this film.