One of the great tragedies of the modern sporting arena, was to witness the downward spiral of the boxing career of Muhammad Ali . We all knew that he fought way past his prime and if anything had four or five fights too many. Call it the ‘Pride And The Passion ,The Agony Of Shame And Defeat’ . But nothing to my mind epitomized that more than when Ali fought Larry Holmes (69-6-1, 44KO’s) for the WBC heavyweight title in October of 1980 .
Here, Ali (56-5, 37 KO’s) is seen challenging Holmes for the heavyweight title in a bout that took place at Caesars Palace , in Las Vegas, Nevada , on the 2nd October , 1980 .
What cannot be disputed is that, whilst being courageous , Ali was also being foolhardy in thinking that he would be able to defeat at Holmes at this stage of his career. Larry Holmes at the time, was the pre-eminent heavyweight boxer in the world and his record suggested as much. And though the relationship between the two wasn’t all strained. Holmes as a former sparring partner of Ali, was at first reluctant to accept his challenge. With that in mind , the fight still went ahead with the usual ballyhoo accorded with such a spectacle. We had a former champion looking to regain the title for an unprecedented fourth time. Holmes if anything , wanted to keep some semblance of respect that he had for his former mentor. But it was hard to do so when Ali , himself, wanted to sell the fight with his usual aplomb. A task made certainly all the much easier as it was being promoted by none other than Don King. Perhaps no else within the sport of boxing as a promoter, would be able to put on such a spectacle and at the same time have the public lapping it all up like voracious beasts ?
Ali (left), seen here with Holmes (right), in their WBC heavyweight title clash . Ali would lose the bout to Holmes in an 11th round TKO. The fight would be Ali’s penultimate fight but he would go on to have one last fight against , Canadian , Trevor Berbick . A fight which he also lost in a unanimous decision. picture appears courtesy of John Iacona – copyrighted material . @ All rights reserved …………..
Now, not wanting to sound outlandish or come off as being trite. I do believe that those within the sport and many who governed the sport of boxing at the time. I feel , full well that they were quite aware as to the acute problems that Ali was facing at the time. Primarily , with his health and the fact that he was lured into taking on fights that in no way shape or form , should be have done so, to begin with. And even prior to the Holmes’ bout , it was quite evident that his skills had already began to erode as a boxer and were in fact on the decline. Unfortunately however, he was being enabled by his handlers and many in and outside of his entourage. They impressed upon that he was still ‘The Champ’ , even if it was in name only. And by all accounts , that was how Ali still wanted to be referred to -as ” The Champ” . Sadly, but surely this was one of those episodes where valor may well have not counted for a great deal on Muhammad Ali’s part.
Holmes the aggressor takes the fight to Ali and backs him up into a corner where unleashes a vicious onslaught with a barrage of punches in the sixth round. picture appears courtesy of sweetfights.com/archives/boxing/Ali-Holmes …….
From the moment that the bell first rang and until the referee stopped the fight in the eleventh round. One knew that this was going to be a night when we all saw a once great champion be brought humbly to his knees . Ali had his moments in the fight, where he brought back memories past , with moments of impish speed and flashes of brilliance. But on the side of the equation, there stood Holmes , a masterful technician, with an all too wicked right jab , powerful upper cuts and tremendous body punching. Who completely at will , literally went about destroying the legacy and myth that was once Muhammad Ali. He was brutally efficient in exposing Ali to his barrage of attacks and more than once he called on the referee to stop the fight , in order to save Ali from further punishment and embarrassment. Alas, much of that fell on deaf ears as the referee proceeded to let the fight continue to its bitter conclusion.
Don King , boxing promoter and infamous showman. Here he talks about his influences , the sport of boxing ,how he feels that he’s influenced and enhanced the sport . Little does he speak of the subpoenas that he’s received over the years from boxers who he’d represented over that time. You can see also, that King has a way with words, as he waxes on so lyrically on a number of subjects. I do believe that he’s swallowed a dictionary !
Now we come full circle where both of these tremendous gladiators of the ring have moved in differing directions as far their lives have gone. Both having been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. However, one of these two fighters is in conscious state of clear health. Aging , but still active in the community , Holmes resides in Scranton , Pennsylvania, with his wife and family close at his side. Ali , as we all know suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, plus various other ailments that have ravaged his body over the course of time. Much of it coming from his many fights within the ring.
Cognitive of those around him , Ali now mumbles as he’s unable to speak , nor can he facilitate any prolonged movement because of the degenerative disease. Furthermore , with him being cloaked in silence , it seems all the more bewildering for us all who’ve witnessed him speak with rapid fire aplomb about he would indeed defeat an opponent. Medication alone won’t bring him back to us in some shape or form that we can all recognize from days of old. Sadly in part, this has been due to the negligence of others. But perhaps , even more so, the negligence shown by Al, in not heeding the advice of others who only wanted the best for him and not the worst.
Ali in a scene from a ESPN commissioned documentary entitled ’30 For 30′ . The titles denotes the sports programming network’s thirty years as a cable broadcast outlet. And it has commissioned a wide variety of documentary films covering sport’s topics of the past thirty years. One of the films in question , is a piece on the Ali – Holmes’ title fight , entitled ‘ Muhammad And Larry’ . Which goes into great detail, as to the lead-up to the fight and what ensued after-wards.
Ali seen here at a black tie formal affair, though cheerful and irreverent . He’s nowhere near the person we all once idolized as fans. picture appears courtesy of askmen.com/archives/images/galleries/muhammad-ali …..
There are very few sporting icons alive today whose names are immediately recognized no matter where you are on the face of the planet. Muhammad Ali is one of those icons whose light still shines brightly in terms of that said recognition. But now, it merely in his own mind , it is but a fading ember as his memory . And for we , his fans all we now have to live with are those memories that are on film. Never again will hear his voice speaking passionately on a wide range of subjects. As his voice has now been silenced in the most cruel of ways. I can only but imagine how different his life might have been ,had he not been struck down by such a debilitating disease.
Date of Birth 01/17/1942
Name; Born Cassius Marcellus Clay changed name to Muhammas Ali after change in religious status- becoming a Muslim- Nation of Islam
Place of Birth; Louisville, Kentucky,.
Notable achievements; Olympic Gold Medalist at the 1960 Rome Olympics Lt Heavyweight champion
First Professional fight ; 10/29/1960 Opponent ; Tunney Hunsaker W UD 6 rounds
Final Professional fight ; 12/11/1981 Opponent ; Trevor Berbick L
UD 10 rounds
First man to win the heavyweight title three times
* UD Denotes- Unanimous Decision