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How Filipinos Remember Muhammad Ali’s ‘Thrilla in Manila’ Boxing Fight

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News about the death of Muhammad Ali inspired many across the world to pay tribute to the boxing icon. In the Philippines, Filipino sports fans shared their memories of the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ boxing match between Ali and Joe Frazier.

Held on October 1, 1975, the fight became one of the greatest boxing fights in history, which featured the third and final encounter of two legendary heavyweight champions. Ali won, although he almost quit near the end of the fight. Ali’s team felt their player barely survived the fight and they blamed it on the referee. This was recalled by Carlos Padilla, the Filipino referee who officiated the game.

The Philippine government hosted and sponsored the boxing match because of the publicity it would generate for the country. Ronnie Nathanielsz, the government-appointed liaison officer of ‘Thrilla in Manila’, wrote that then President Ferdinand Marcos wanted the international event to demonstrate that the country was peaceful and prosperous despite the declaration of martial law

Indeed, ‘Thrilla in Manila’ succeeded in redirecting public attention from the alleged excesses committed by the military-backed government toward the boxing game.

Facebook user Manny Payumo wrote how the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ led to fewer anti-government protests a week before the event.

n honor of Ali, a shopping mall was named after him. Ali Mall, the Philippines’ first shopping mall, was built near the venue of ‘Thrilla in Manila’ in 1976.

This article was initially published at globalvoices



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