Muhammed Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the so-called “thrilla in Manila”, on this day, October 1st, 1975.
The fight, the third and final between Ali and Frazier, got its name from Ali’s rhyming boast that the fight would be “a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila.”
The two men had split their two previous fights: Frazier won the first, Ali, in controversial circumstances, the second. In the second fight, Ali had persistently attempted to hold Frazier in a way that made it hard for Frazier to breathe.
In the lead in, Ali’s antics were outrageous – from calling Frazier a “gorilla”, to presenting his mistress, instead of his wife, to the Phillipine President. This lead to Mrs. Ali flying in from the USA the night before the fight to spend several hours shouting at him.
The fight itself was brutal: Ali later said it was the closest he had ever come to dying. Frank McGhee, writing in the Mirror at the time, noted:
The main turning point of the fight came very late. It came midway through the thirteenth round when one of two tremendous right-hand smashes sent the gum shield sailing out of Frazier’s mouth. The sight of this man actually moving backwards seemed to inspire Ali. I swear he hit Frazier with thirty tremendous punches—each one as hard as those which knocked out George Foreman in Zaire—during the fourteenth round. He was dredging up all his own last reserves of power to make sure there wouldn’t have to be a fifteenth round.
To this day, it is regarded as one of the greatest boxing matches in history. Here it is, from this day, October 1st, 1975: