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The Fight of the Century: Ali vs. Frazier March 8, 1971 Hardcover – October 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470056428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470056424
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

* ""...an enthralling and meticulous account of genuine sporting rivalry...Brilliantly capturing the unprecedented grandiosity of the occasion... must be recommended"" (The Independent, October 27th 2008)

Review

"Arkush not only gives us the inside story on one of the century's signature sporting events, he frames it politically and socially. I was there, and now I know much more about what happened. This is flesh and blood and history."--Robert Lipsyte

"Ali-Frazier I was the greatest sports event I ever saw or ever expect to see. With his landscape portrait of the men and their times, Michael Arkush takes us again to that historic moment in Madison Square Garden when two of boxing's proudest warriors began their blood feud."--Dave Kindred, author of SOUND AND FURY: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship.

"The Fight of the Centurytranscends the mere sports story. In Michael Arkush's capable hands, this classic duel and its surrounding pressures and personalities show us where we have been as a society and where we are going. It is a story that truly stands for a place and time. It is a fully engrossing read."--Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestelling author

"Never is a long time but there'll never be another cosmic boxing event like Ali-Frazier. Michael Arkush brings alive that melodrama with all its political-social implications, wheeling and dealing, hyping and hitting." - Larry Merchant, author and boxing commentator.

"A richly detailed history of Ali and Frazier's first big fight and the social and political forces at play. A great read."--Ron Shelton, director of Bull Durham and Tin Cup

"Fight of The Century brings back memories of a different and troubled time both in sports and in our country. It is vividly reported and a perfect example of the old saying that the genius is in the details."--John Feinstein


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I couldn't wait to read part of it each day.
Robert Umeck
The information about the social climate at the time was very interesting.
Matthew P. Glusco
This is one of my favorite sports books ever.
Michael J. Spitale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rick Shaq Goldstein on December 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any boxing fan or true sports fan who was of a cognitive age on March 8, 1971 knows where they were on that fateful day. That was the day of the unchallenged "FIGHT OF THE CENTURY" BETWEEN "SMOKING JOE" FRAZIER AND MUHAMMAD ALI! Never before in the history of boxing had two undefeated, untied, Heavyweight Champions faced each other in the ring. Ali was undefeated in 31 fights, 25 of them knockouts. "Smoking Joe" was undefeated in 26 bouts, 23 of them knockouts, a .885 percentage. No top heavyweight fighter in the history of boxing had ever recorded a higher knockout rate, not even Rocky Marciano, the only Heavyweight Champion in history to retire undefeated. Of Frazier's 23 victims, 18 were knocked out in the first 5 rounds.

Not even the historic Joe Louis and Max Schmeling bout on June 22, 1938 which had worldwide implications with Hitler rising to power and his persecution of the Jews which led to the Holocaust, put into motion an event of this magnitude. And an event is definitely what it became. It transcended what a mere Heavyweight Championship bout was capable of becoming. During the last few weeks prior to the fight Ali and Frazier "were everywhere: On the cover of "Life" and "Time" magazine, on a television commercial for Vitalis hair products. On the minds of those who knew everything about the sport, and those who knew nothing." As current HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant so aptly said: "I don't know how you could have been in America and not have cared about that fight!"

What was the ingredient in this matchup that propelled this fight into such rarefied air? Was it simply the combatants' records? If not, what was the catalyst that triggered a tsunami-like reverberation throughout the world? The answer to this question is "The Viet Nam War"!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on February 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great fight, great book. Michael Arkush places you in the arena for the Fight of the Century between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Ali was the exiled, undefeated heavyweight champion of the 1960s coming back to reclaim his crown from Frazier, the undefeated reigning champ of the early 1970s.

You read about State senator Leroy Johnson's hard fought efforts to desegregate the Georgia Senate cafeteria and his efforts at getting Ali a license to box again. Ali defeats Jerry Quarry in Georgia and Oscar Bonavena in NYC, but it is clear that he does not have the stamina and footwork that he had in the 1960s. He is still good enough to beat just about everyone, and his losing effort against Frazier was in retrospect one of his finest moments, because he displayed guts and courage and heart that we never knew he had.

The story is told through the eyes of those around the gladiators, as Ali and Frazier were unavailable to be interviewed. But Arkush revives important and revealing quotes that the warriors gave in their respective autobiographies.

Ali would go on to beat Frazier in two successive rematches in the years to come. But this first fight in Madison Square Garden in NYC will always be known as The Fight of the Century, where two unbeaten heavyweights squared off in a tumultuous time in America history. Read this book and you will be there!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jorge abaroa on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good book about "The Fight". It really takes the reader behind the scenes as to what it took to put this together. You can relive the build up all over again. The chapters on the technical aspects of the closed circuit setup was really interesting. Very well written. A piece of sports history! Recommended...I wish I could have been there.
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By Smith 006 on June 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Interesting book which brought back many memories of kids getting ready to pretend and be the famous fighters of that time. good read.
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By WDX2BB on February 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It doesn't take long to realize that this is a story worth reading.

Michael Arkush jumps right into his book on the first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, "The Fight of the Century," by examining some little-known facts about the start of Ali's comeback. The ex-champion was in isolation after refusing a draft call, as he was stripped of his title and involved in a long court battle. The climate had started to change after a few years, though, and some Atlanta movers-and-shakers -- including state senator Leroy Johnson -- decided that if Ali was going to start a comeback anywhere, Georgia would be as good a place as any.

Sure enough, people jumped through hoops and favors were called in, but Ali met, and defeated, Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. And we're off on a story that has been covered but not fully told.

The careers of both fighters in that late Sixties/early Seventies period are nicely covered here. Arkush obviously has a great deal of source material out there, as practically every writer in the country, from Norman Mailer on down, tried to write about the subject of Ali-Frazier. But Arkush goes a couple of steps farther but adding plenty of first-hand interviewing to others' observations. The insights from writers Larry Merchant and Dave Kindred are particularly good. The little details prove quite crucial and quite interesting in making this book work.

Ali worked his way through Quarry easily and Oscar Bonavena awkwardly in a relatively short period of time, knowing that his time frame for boxing might be short because of the pending legal challenge. Frazier was patiently waiting, adding to his unbeaten record while hoping for a chance for a worthy rival -- which only meant Ali at this stage.
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