So You Wanna Be A Boxer?!

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A Fictional Tale

Thirty seven years ago today Muhammed Ali outpointed Leon Spinks to become the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, at the Superdome in New Orleans.

A crowd of over 60,000 and an estimated worldwide TV audience of 90 million, watched Ali’s historic achievement. It was to be the 36 year old Louisville born boxers final fight and he officially retired in June 1979. He did have two unsuccessful fights in 1979 and 1980 allegedly as he was short of cash but I’m not including them because its my blog, so there!!

The larger than life character initially shunned the limelight in retirement and opened a Bed & Breakfast in Lytham-St-Annes, near Blackpool in England. Here he kept his anonymity by wearing a Groucho Marx plastic nose, spectacles and moustache and using the nom d’plume of Arnold Trubshaw.

Ali successfully kept his anonymity with these in Lancashire

fancy dress

In his 1970’s tribute song to Ali, singer/songwriter described him as a ‘Black Superman’. The boxer denied he was Superman, although he did seem ill at ease around Kryptonite and a bubbling wreck around Lois Lane!

During his time in Lytham-St-Annes, Ali’s culinary skills came to the fore. Lancastrians would travel for miles to sample Arnold Trubshaw’s Lancashire Hot Pot. Despite its glowing reputation his cookery skills were later to be usurped when George Foreman released a raft of healthy recipes along with his highly successful grill.

Although never commenting publicly about Foreman’s recipes, he was said to find one for Cajun Chicken very tasty, although it would benefit from slightly more seasoning.

Foreman’s grill. Look out for his Cajun Chicken recipe! …. Even Ali likes it!

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Ali didn’t stay in Lancashire for long. If your a Yorkshireman his decision will need no qualifying!…… Only kidding my Lancastrian cousins!……… Or am I?!

He returned to the US where he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984. Medics have differing views as to whether this was resultant from his boxing career. One thing is for certain is that it has been the biggest and toughest fight of his life.

He continues to fight this disease today. At times the legendary boxer, who is a shadow of his former self as a result of his debilitating illness, has had to take a metaphorical referees count. This includes major fears when he contracted pneumonia, which hospitalised the former pugilist. Thankfully the ref didn’t reach ten during the graver health scares!

As well as his many boxing accolades, he was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. In addition to this a stonemason from Wolverhampton said he seemed a nice enough bloke!

It’s impossible to put the magnitude of Ali’s achievements or pay adequate homage in such a small blog. Especially when you take into account my limited boxing knowledge. I do know, though, that if his son had have confronted me in the school yard with the comment “My dad can fight your dad!” he’d have been right!

My boxing knowledge is lax now as, although I do enjoy the sport (especially big fights), However, I don’t like it enough to pay the Box Office prices to watch! So, in a nutshell, I miss the big bouts because I’m a right tight arse and am prepared to wait for a still picture of the knockout punch on the BBC news.

I did like boxing more in the 1970’s as a kid when there was free to air coverage on TV, with Harry Carpenter commentating. Then we got to see the likes of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Spinks as well as Britain’s Henry Cooper, Joe Bugner and Richard Dunn in the heavyweight division. The Brits weren’t in the the same class as Americans at that weight. However, as the cliche says “They were contenders!”

The Thrilla in Manilla in 1975 – Ali v Frazier

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Britain were more successful in the lighter divisions in that era, especially in the shape of John Conteh, Alan Minter and Barry McGuigan.

McGuigan was a particular role model to me at that age. Not for boxing mind you, I’m referring to growing a rubbish moustache!

There is a saying in the UK that “Rugby is a thugs game played by gentleman. Football is a gentleman’s game played by thugs. And boxing is a game played by nutters who desperately want to avoid Don King’s barber!”

I have many happy memories watching Muhammad Ali box on TV as a kid in the 1970’s. Apart from when my mum sat with my dad, brother and me, as she never bloody shut up throughout the fight!

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