A Re-Evaluation through the Eyes of a Five-And-A-Half-Year-Old Boy with an Uncorrected Squint
When I tell boxing fans today that I can vividly remember watching ‘The Fight of The Century’ which took place on March 8, 1971 between ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali, and ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, they stare at me in total disbelief. Most are too polite to say that they refuse to accept my claim, while others dismiss it as though I were speaking fabricated nonsense. Perhaps, they assume, that I am claiming to remember because it has since become so easy to wax lyrical about the self-styled ‘Greatest of All Times’ who went on to play the lead role in the fabled Rumble In The Jungle, Thrilla In Manilla, and was voted BBC Sportsman of the Century at the turn of the last Millennium. After all, what has been said about Muhammad Ali that he didn’t actually say about himself? And, I suppose, as I was born in October 1965 – why would anyone believe this seemingly preposterous claim coming from a man who is now fifty-four, but was then a five-and-a-half-year-old boy with an uncorrected squint?
Well, there are various reasons for believing it, as I shall begin to outline now. First and foremost, it was a global event, and, unlike my brothers, I had missed the Moon Landing in July 1969. I can remember, however, briefly blinking at the canary yellow shirts of Brazil winning the 1970 World Cup when Mum and Dad were just leaving the house to go for an Indian curry and taking me with them so that my brothers were then left in peace to watch Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Rivelino and, of course, the great Pele, lift the Jules Remit Trophy for a historic third time.
But, I can assure you that, although my memories may not stand up in court as a bona fide sworn testimony to what actually happened on that famous night in Madison Square Garden, as recollections go – from my perspective, peering through horn-rimmed NHS glasses – that had steamed up because his mother had spread a basket full of soaking wet washing across a huge fireguard in front of an open fire – I did watch that momentous historic event and, without re-visiting the footage now available on various media websites, this is what I can recall… (Full story available for £1.50 using PayPal)