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The Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
Synopses & Reviews
Ali stared above the gathering into infinity, his mouth angry, eyes blank, then screamed: "Joe Frazier should give his face to the Wildlife Fund! He so ugly, blind men go the other way!...He not only looks bad! You can smell him in another country!" He held his nose. "What will the People in Manila think? We can't have a gorilla for a champ. They're gonna think, lookin' at him, that all black brothers are animals. Ignorant. Stupid. Ugly. If he's champ again, other nations will laugh at us."
Joe turned and gunned a hole in the thin wood of the wall, then flipped over his desk. "Eddie, listen up! Whatever you do, whatever happens, don't stop the fight! We got nowhere to go after this. I'm gonna eat this half-breed's heart right out of his chest!...I mean it...This is the end of him or me."
When Muhammad Ali met Joe Frazier in Manila for the third, bloody act of their heroic trilogy of fights, the rivalry had spun out of control. More than a clash of personalities or fighting styles, the Ali-Frazier matchup had become a kind of madness, inflamed by the media and the politics of race. When the "Thrilla in Manila" was over, the hype no longer mattered: one man was left with a ruin of a life; the other was battered to his soul.
Mark Kram's riveting book begins with the boxers themselves — who they are and who they were. Interweaving present and past, and told in a voice as powerful as a heavyweight punch, Kram explodes the hagiography surrounding both fighters — particularly Ali. While giving Ali his due as arguably the best fighter of all time, Kram paints a much darker and nuanced version of the legend than anyone has ever dared. Ghosts of Manila is a masterpiece of literary journalism that is sure to take its place alongside A. J. Liebling's The Sweet Science.
Ghosts of Manila is a psychologically riveting study of two heroes, many myths, and the reality behind it all.
"And now comes the latest twist to the Ali saga, yet more revisionism. In Ghosts of Manila: The Fateful Blood Feud Between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, author Mark Kram turns a sharp eye to what he calls the "Ali myth." "Current hagiographers have tied themselves in knots trying to elevate Ali into a heroic, defiant catalyst of the anti-war movement, a beacon of black independence," writes Kram, who covered Ali during 11 years at Sports Illustrated. "It's a legacy that evolves from the intellectually loose sixties, from those who were in school then and now write romance history." In a fascinating narrative, Kram posits instead that Ali, duped by Muslims, was a Chauncey Gardiner figure straight from the pages of Jerzy Kosinski's Being There: 'For his every utterance, heavy breathing from the know-nothings to the trendy tasters of faux revolution...Seldom has a public figure of such superficial depth been more wrongly perceived ? by the right and the left.'" Larry Platt, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review here)
The dramatic story of two men, one epic boxing match and the most legendary one-on-one competition in sports history. When Ali met Frazier in Manila for the final act in their fight for the title, it became more than a match, it was a test of wills and media frenzy spun out of control. This book explores the reality behind the legend. Illustrations.
About the Author
Mark Kram covered boxing for Sports Illustrated for eleven years and wrote more about Muhammad Ali than any other writer for the magazine. His articles on boxing have been widely anthologized, including The Best American Sports Writing of the Century, edited by David Halberstam, and The Fights, a collection of essays edited by Richard Ford.
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