Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier: How two friends became enemies

THE first act in the historic trilogy starring Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was an epic drama which transfixed the world. New York was buzzing with anticipation and inside a packed Madison Square Garden the atmosphere was so intense both before and during the fight that two spectators died of heart attacks.

I remember, too, how we all sat at ringside with garish blue and red Ali v Frazier baseball caps plonked firmly on heads on the instruction of the wonderfully laconic Garden PR John XF Condon.

Some of the more venerable members of my trade had protested that it was undignified, but Condon had warned, ”Well guys, it’s like this. There are 20,000 people in here and another 5,000 outside fighting to get in. When it all goes off at ringside the cops will want to know which heads to hit, and which not to hit!”

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