Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wilde Times and Feats of Clay

You might have missed it but "The Greatest" turned 70 earlier this week. Many gifted wordsmiths, including Jerry Izenberg, wrote tributes to Ali on the occasion of his 70th birthday. I suppose that I would appreciate the lovefest more had I never seen the HBO documentary "Thrilla in Manila". It revealed in a stark, harsh light just how much pain Ali inflicted upon Joe Frazier in the early 1970's when the two men were arch-rivals and blood brothers in a trilogy of fights that was an epic.

Ali bullied and baited Frazier in every conceivable way outside of the ring. Then after having opened wounds that festered for decades thereafter and may or may not have ever fully healed made a lame attempt to assuage his own conscience about what he had done to Frazier by peddling some crap about it having all been done "in the name of the promotion" of their fights.

This week, the shell of the man who once was "The Greatest" reached the age of 70. He bested Frazier one final time I reckon. Frazier died in early November 2011, a victim of liver cancer. He was 67.

Oscar Wilde wrote, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." Nor outlive it. Not even if, once upon a time now likely trapped in the dark folds of his memory forever, he was "The Greatest"....

....well, in the ring anyway.


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