The legendary “Thrilla in Manilla” is like “The Bridge” by MC Shan – you love to hear the story again and again.
The only thing is, the tale has mostly been told from the perspective of one never-ending legend named Muhammad Ali. There was another legend party to that fight and his name is “Smokin'” Joe Frazier. Frazier’s account of the fight in the Philippines has been greatly overlooked as history is told and retold.
It is now time for “the other man.”
HBO’s “Thrilla In Manilla” is a trek back in time, back to the present and captures a moment in time when a pair of friends fought each other to the backdrop of civil unrest and the Vietnam War along with all of its controversy. Director John Dower allows Frazier to revisit one of the most bitter, turbulent periods, where he felt personally betrayed by Ali and miscast as a villain during the 1970’s.
“Thrilla in Manila” allows viewer to feel the heat in the Philippines and peer through the 63-year-old eyes of Frazier. The struggle, the strife and the turmoil are all present and accounted for in this classic war of attrition. But, the documentary isn’t only for the people that saw the event some 25 years ago, this piece is for all regardless of age, gender and walk of life.
Although Ali was the fan favorite, he didn’t mince words in the pre-fight antics calling Frazier a “sell-out,” a “gorilla” and somebody that “works for the enemy.” Frazier’s first hand voice doesn’t mince words either, as he maintains that Ali’s present condition with Parkinson’s could be an act of karma. HBO solidifies the authenticity of the event, times and characters by using uses actual clips from the epic Oct. 1, 1975 fight.
Ultimately, “Thrilla in Manila” gives Frazier what he’s long deserved, redemption. Frazier emerges as a whole complete character in “Manilla,” not a supporting character in the biography of Muhammad Ali.
“Thrilla in Manilla” it debuts 8 pm on Saturday, April 11 on HBO. After the movie, fight fans will be able to watch World Championship Boxing with Paul Williams and Winky Wright clashing in a 12-round middleweight fight. Click here to read AllHipHop.com’s interview with Winky Wright.