THE MICHIGAN DAILY
THE MC~iGA DAIY Fog___v
The mountain and Muhammad: A
resurrection of a heavyweight
By KRISTON SCHPARKZ
IT'S THE same old story. They
are after Muhammad All
again. The word is that moe fight
with Frazier was boring. Ali
just didn't have a big punch.
The judges got snowed by Ali's
pre-ight self-aggrandizement. He
may have beat Frazier, but ha
could never handle bigger, bad-
der George Foreman (or the var-
iation: scared, he'll refuse to
fight Foreman). And so on.
Bullshit. All of it. But typical.
We've heard it from the be-
ginning. How mean 'ole Sonny
Liston would silence Big Mouth
Clay. And then after the Lewis-
ton debacle, how Liston had tak-
en a dive.
As time went on, it came to re-
semble a vendetta. The hoary
old hacks of the boxing press,
dependent on the hero/bum im-
agery to pump interest into a die-
ing sport, had cast Ali as the
bad guy. Inscrutable, arrogant,
and overbearing, he was the very
opposite of the myth of the ath-
lete as pure, humble and forever
grateful; an ideal so many'Amer-
icans had come to cherish.
When Ali couldn't be silenced
in the ring, when his record re-
mained as unblemished as h i
pretty face, the Boxing Commis-
sion chose another route to get
Direct racism wasn't the order
of the day, nor was religious per-
secution. So although many peo-
ple added color and religion to
their list of prejudices against
Ali, it wasn't until the War m
Vietnam entered the scene that
hatred could be directed into ac-
WHEN ALI became a Musln,
and refused to be drafted,
the legitimacy of his religious be-
liefs was denied. While Ali
fought his battle in court, the
boxing commission quietly fixed
him: stripping him of his title,
his best years and his basic right
to make a living.
They decreed that Ali was no
longer the champion, as if it
were in their power to do so.
They decided in the comfort of
their corporate boardroom to re-
move a title Ali had won with
his fists. And then - bar a con-
trived series of "elirninat on"
fights - they decided 'that Joe
Frazier, not Ali, was the champ.
By the time Ali finally w a s
permited to meet Frazier, he was
30 years old. Nonetheless, h
scoffed at serious preparation,
convinced more than ever cf his
own magic and invincibiliey.
Against Frazier, Ali's disdain
was both magnificent and tragic.
He took every cruel left J o e
could dish up, backing into a
corner, droping his fists a n d
laughing at blows which had ruth-
lbssly demolished every previous
Ali made it his highest prior-
ity to prove to America that he
could take the worst punishment
that Frazier, allegedly the best
puncher of them all, could dish
In the process, he lost the fight.
But it was Frazier, not Ali, who
ended up for mysterious month,,
in the hospital, and whose champ'
ionship career, as the wuhsequent
knockdown carnival with Fore-
man would later prove, hR ' d
been effectively terminated.
He could have quit then. Those
who had believed would cherish
his memory and go on believing.
Tales of a schizoid romanic
(Continued from Page 4)
4servations about a monogam-
ous arrangement, it remains the
situation she chooses. Each new
lover is an antidote for the pre-
ceding one. There is security in
numbers larger than one.
She equates the marriage ex-
perience with her venture - into
psychoanalysis where it is some-
what exciting to discover how
crazy she actually is. But the
thrill disappears when a depend-
ency develops where even the
snallest decision must first await
consulation with the shrink.
Marriage is a similar Catch-22.
Once it begins, its almost impos-
sible to stop. Life without love
(or one's concept of love) is
drab. She can become her own
shrink, but she cannot marry
To satisfy her desires, she be-
lieves experience is the best
teacher. She learns that it can
also be thesharhest. To be happy
one must suffer, to understand
freedom one must experience en-
slavement. Dues must be paid;
the problem is discovering what
price is equitable.
Isadora faces her trepidations.
"My fear of flying lets me
ride on planes as long as I agree
to suffer through the whole flight
in terror . . . terrified as I was,
I didn't allow that fear to contr) l
HER ADVENTURE w i t h Ad-
rian turns into atrophy. He
returns to his wife and children
and Isadora learns that althougn
freedom cannot be given, it can
possibly be gained. Realizing
that every freedom has its lim-
itations, she returns to Bennett.
Physically nothing has changed,
her fears and desires have been
She accepts the premise that
the most effective marriages are
second marriages. "Maybe mar-
riages are best in middle a g e
when all the nonsense- falls way
and you realize you have to love
one another because you're go-
ing to die anyway." For an at-
tractive, intelligent 30 year old
woman Isadora may be too sol-
emn in her interpretation of the
wedding vow. She would rather
reconstruct what already
than throw it away and
Those who had refused to be-
lieve were beyond reacn any-
But the man was, after all, the
champ. He would come back,
from pride if nothing else. He
would earn another chanc4.
He was not the same fighter-
slower, not as strong, juct plain
older. A second-rater lik-, Ken
Norton could shatter his jaw.
But Ali overcame Norton, fin-
aly, and while the othr heavy-
weights rested on their laurels,
he fought bout after bout.
When it came time to fight
Frazier again, Ali's goal had
changed. Proving he could take
punches meant nothing. T h i s
time it was winning the fight.
He trained hard in his spart in
hideaway camp, and he prom-
ised no clowning.
There is no doubt about what
happened Monday, night. It was
as clear in the State Theatre as
it was in Madison Square Garden.
When Ali began to score, Ann
Arbor fans jumped out of their
seats, drowning out the an-
nBoxing writers, like mfrs in
the sporting press, are szow in
adapting to change. And for mos:
of them, the exhibition Ali gave
Monday is one they just curt
understand, much less apprec-
.Joe Frazier is easy, lie ducks
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low, bores in, punches hard and
has all the style of a bulldozer
on a demolition site. Alj is the
opposite. There were m a n y
times in the early days ie spar-
ed an opponent a knockout, pre-
fering instead to demonstrate his
Perhaps Alf did not have a
knockout punch Monday nigh!.
But who cares? One reason Ali
created a resurgence of intlres
in boxing is that he br ight to it
an artist's sense of magic and
and style. On Monday his per-
formance was consumnaate. He
kept Frazier at Say, dan::ed when
he had to, flicked in flArries of
jabs, and controlled the tempo
of the fight nearly throuighout. It
didn't take a knockout to prove
his superiority (although Fraz-
ier's grotesquely swolen face
the day after the fight will do
for those who look at such
The critics won't cease :eir
ravings. But worse, is the fear
that Ali might lose sight of the
one goal which has long meant
the most to his fans: regained
his stolen title. To hell w i r h
fighting Quarry, or allowing Frayz-
ier another chance. Take on
Foreman, concentrate all the en-
ergies and al the brilliance, and
A LI HAS always lived off his
recognition, and perhaps the cli-
max of a Foreman fight seems
too final now iii the afterglow
of hismost recent victory. And
yet the years go by. even for~
Ali. All we can do is hope that
this man, whose greatness h a s
always been turning lorgshot
dreams into re'lity, won't let the
ultimate one slip away.
Khriston Schpark:.is an alias for
a tea)m of Daily sports column-
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