Friday, April 10, 2009

Joe Frazier, Joe Frazier, Joe Frazier

In an effort to increase my semiannual production of posts here at Boxiana I’m going to try to produce some less intensive material. A good start is this clip combining two great joys; personal heavyweight favorite Joe Frazier and my loathing of Morning Joe (Scarborough).

Frazier is promoting the new HBO documentary about the Thrilla’ in Manilla. While I was initially hesitant, really what more can be said about that fight that hasn’t been, from what I hear it’s going to be excellent. It was apparently made by a British filmmaker, and was so good that HBO picked it up.

We’ll see, but it’s hard to imagine it will live up to this clip, with Joe looking regal in his stylish hat and not too far beyond fighting trim. The interactions are bizarre, with the questioners talking to Joe as though he’s not a native speaker.

And Joe actually does respond in a different language. These nobs may have met a black man before, but certainly not someone black like Joe Frazier. He speaks not just with a heavy Philly drawl mixed with too many punches, but with an honesty, earnestness, and feeling that is usually in poor taste on shows such as this. These are people who talk lightly of disagreements over major policy decisions that send people to their death. They debate the forty million people without health insurance and the nine percent unemployment rate as though it is who should be atop the AP poll in college football. It is what I find most contemptible about the pundit class, the breezy, self-congratulatory diminution of important things to the level of mere sporting event. It takes Frazier to show that even sport is serious, it’s personal, it’s important on a level where you can’t just look and move on like these people have done with the Iraq war and so much other wretchedness.

The point really comes into focus at the 4:45 mark, where the woman questioner tries to tie Frazier, Tiger Woods, and the economic collapse together in some sort of serious point. Joe Frazier, befuddled by the comparison between someone who hits a tiny white ball and one who destroyed souls with his fists begins a rambling, borderline incoherent response which, in my dreams, ends with one of his textbook left hooks.

One can dream.

Going to try to post a full preview of this Saturday’s HBO lineup, which includes the Thrilla’ Doc, Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7, and the intriguing Wright-Williams fight.


jim in austin said...

Crumbs and dribbles are fine. There is such a paucity of insightful boxing journalism we'll relish anything you can deliver. I've kept boxiana tucked away in a dark corner amongst my RSS feeds waiting for the day it might magically resurrect.

gutta said...

this is some next level writing. i cant believe how great this is. you have to keep this going. your writing has true swagger. this is the truth ruth.

StreakShooter McFloorburn said...

The Thrilla' in Manila doc was pretty good, in that it almost made me hate Ali while I was watching it, and really captured the level the sport was on at the time, which made Ali's race baiting of Frazier seem all the more despicable. While pop culture and sporting lore have mostly painted Ali as a sort of genius in his realm, the movie depicted him as more of an ignorant and (obviously) arrogant bully who was pressured by the Nation of Islam to use his fame to their benefit and never considered the consequences of his actions or words. As with most things, the truth is likely somewhere in between, but I've been guilty of my share of Ali worship, and I suppose I feel a bit dumber that this movie shattered some illusions for me, but my own ignorance can always use a strong left hook to the jaw. I've certainly known enough clever and, on the surface, charming, (but not particularly intelligent) people whose mouths moved exponentially quicker than their brains to know that such types rarely have much real depth to their intelligence, though perhaps I'm being a bit extreme now, and shattered illusions aside, have no real desire to tear down Ali. I always liked Frazier as a boxer, and perhaps respect him even more having watched this. I imagined it as if Jackie Robinson had to go through breaking the color barrier in baseball with blacks shouting epithets at him as well as whites, and got the idea that Frazier was dealing with an unprecedented level and type of hatred at the time, as it was coming from many of the people he probably (and rightly should have) expected to support him. Sorry if this sounds too much like a movie review, but as a writer myself, ('cause I won't let anyone tell me I'm not) and appreciating conversational comments as much as praise, I figured (hoped) you might like a little. On the praise side, here's a fellow boxing enthusiast hoping for more of your fine work in the near future.

shoefly said...

I'm starting to think these comments are just from my friends using alternate accounts to encourage me. If so, please don't stop. Thank you all very much for the compliments.

As for the doc, Mcfloorburn, I agree with much of what you said. It's hard to put oneself in that cultural fulcrum at this point and know what it really meant.

To me, the most powerful moments were Joe watching himself, "gotta get closer, Smoke." made me tear up. It's a true tragedy that Rocky has himself a statue in Philadelphia and Joe has none.

I don't know, it's hard for me to talk about it that much. In much the way that Castillo/Corralles and Vasquez/Marquez in recent years have been both glorious and a little obscene to watch, that fight is so raw and real it's uncomfortable.

And as for the framing, well, I'm glad Joe got his side told, but the whole damn thing is so thick and treacly that it's really hard to know for sure how it all went down.