http://www.digitaljournal.com/sports/why-muhammad-ali-matters-to-filipino-boxing-fans/article/467044

Why Muhammad Ali matters to Filipino boxing fans

Posted Jun 4, 2016 by Leo Reyes
The passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali following his long and difficult battle with Parkinson's disease brought sadness to Filipinos in general and Filipino boxing fans in particular as they reminisce on his "Thrilla in Manila" classic fight in 1975.
US President George W. Bush (R) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali on Novemb...
US President George W. Bush (R) presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali on November 9, 2005 in Washington, DC
Mandel Ngan, AFP/File
Forty years ago, Ali fought Joe Frazier in Manila in a brutal clash dubbed "Thrilla in Manila" which Ali later described "as the closest thing to dying" as the fight ended in a referee technical decision (RTD) in the penultimate round.
The third Ali-Frazier bout in 1975 was one of the most brutal 15-rounder fights in boxing history and it may have influenced regulators and sanctioning bodies to reduce the number of rounds from 15 to 12. Frazier was one of the five tough foes that gave Ali a black mark in his career. Read more:
It is also the reason why Filipinos who watched the fight at the famous Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Oct.1, 1975, could not forget how Ali survived the raging Frazier who was angered by Ali during the promotional stage of the fight by calling him a "Gorilla."
In the pre-fight statement, Ali had been taunting Frazier saying the fight would be a "killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila."
Soon after the hype, the fight was aptly referred to as the "Thrilla in Manila."
The Ali-Frazier fight was also memorable to many Filipinos because it happened when they were struggling in a martial law regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos, who reportedly picked up the cost of putting the fight in Manila to ease the pain of those suffering under his dictatorial regime.
It was also in the aftermath of the fight that Carlos Padilla, Jr., a rising Filipino boxing judge and referee rose to prominence after serving as referee. He did a splendid job as the third man in the ring. From then on, Padilla became one of the most sought-after referees in boxing.
Among the famous fights that had Padilla as referee include Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Wilfredo Benitez, Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas, Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran 1, Thomas Hearns vs. Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Ruben Castillo, Dwight Muhammad Qawi vs. Matthew Saad Muhammad and Salvador Sanchez vs. Wilfredo Gomez, to name a few.
Another sports personality who made a name in sports journalism after serving as Marcos emissary in the Ali-Frazier fight is boxing writer and broadcast journalist Ronnie Nathanielz.
Moments after Ali's death, Nathanielz became the most sought-after sports journalist in Manila as request for interview from international media keeps him busy which is understandable because of his first-hand knowledge of the Ali-Frazier fight and his personal association with Ali long after their first meeting in Manila in 1975.
"We were flooded by calls both from at home and abroad regarding our memories of the "Thrilla in Manila" and at times had to hold back the tears as we reflected on a good and decent man who touched the lives of millions in the Philippines and around the world," Nathanielz said.
Muhammad Ali  pictured on March 4  1976  once said: '"I am America. I am the part you won&...
Muhammad Ali, pictured on March 4, 1976, once said: '"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me -- black, confident, cocky"
, AFP/File
Manny Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum, who co-promoted the "Thrilla in Manila" with Don King said Ali was the greatest boxer of all time.
"I think when you talk about Muhammad Ali, as great an athlete, as great a boxer as he was, he was the greatest boxer of all time, he means so much more to the United States and the world," Arum told Reuters Saturday. "He was a transformative figure in our society," he added.
For his part, Pacquiao said boxing has benefited from Ali's talent and so with mankind for his humanity.
"We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali's talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ali family. May God bless them," Pacquiao said.
One of the visible landmarks that Ali has left behind for his Filipino fans to see is a shopping mall that was named after him as a tribute to his victory. "Ali Mall" and is located in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City near the Araneta Coliseum where the "Thrilla in Manila" took place more than 40 years ago.