Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Ali

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  • Alan Perrott,

    That was a mad day, there were fights at morning tea, lunchtime and little play over who was better or because someone said Ali was too damn uppity. Then the final bell went and everyone charged for the gate. Not sure if we got anything done in class, the anticipation was mad.
    I was only nine though and I'm still unsure if I'm remembering the day if the Rumble or the Thilla. I know I saw both.
    Anyway, I seem to remember it being fed by the Bruce Lee cult - did you know he got so fit and so strong he exploded? That was the gospel of the playground and you didn't dare state a winner in a Ali-Lee scrap without backup. Jesus, primary schools in the 70s. Always sunny but.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    Anyway, I seem to remember it being fed by the Bruce Lee cult - did you know he got so fit and so strong he exploded? That was the gospel of the playground and you didn't dare state a winner in a Ali-Lee scrap without backup. Jesus, primary schools in the 70s. Always sunny but.

    Heh. This is quite in line with my memory too. Emulating 'kung fu' got banned at our school around this time.

    The 1974 fight was the same day as an inter-primary school folk dancing event, held on the footy field at my school (I was 10). Attendance/participation compulsory. God it was awful.

    I remember, sitting on the bank above the field, the intense arguments about whether Ali was too much of a 'skite' and whether that meant that, in a right and proper world, he should lose.

    Only caught a bit of the fight itself - long country school bus trip meant got home way too late & in any case Mum thought boxing was barbaric.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Wonder if it was a gender thing? Nobody I knew (girls, sisters, women) was the least bit interested in the boxing and most mothers actively opposed it. For me Mohammed Ali's anti-war stand and friendship with Malcolm X were defining.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Rob Hosking,

    not to mention On the Mat....as for inter school- folk dancing though, bwaahahaha, you poor bastards.

    and sorry, Hilary, no idea what the girls were thinking. they still had germs back then and god only knows what was going on in their toilets. Didn't matter how much I was double dared, I wasn't looking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Curnow,

    Our Woodwork teacher at Northcote intermediate brought his own T.V. from home into school and we watched the 74 fight in the woodwork room, it was a big thing. It was partly Ali and partly that I was sick of getting picked on that led me into boxing as a youth. I befitted from the confidence it gave me, the fitness and it got me out of a few scrapes but I didn't much like hitting people so was not much of a contender for the ring.

    Since Nov 2006 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    not to mention On the Mat….as for inter school- folk dancing though, bwaahahaha, you poor bastards.

    Inter-school folk-dancing did not form any part of my childhood.

    Fortunately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    not to mention On the Mat…

    Oh yes. We played out On the Mat just about every break for a few years. Never did me any harm!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    +1 to that, except I don't personally fit the gender claim.

    I guess I can't know how I'd have been affected by Ali if I'd been around when he was doing his thing, but in retrospect and as with people like Ed Hillary, I have far more respect for what he did with the attention than for the specific things that gained the attention.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Russell Brown,

    yeah man, but the spell was broken for me when we went for a Sunday drive (what the hell were they about?) along Redoubt Rd and I found out Rick Martell and King Curtis were neighbours. that wasn't right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was barbaric. Corporal punishment was a doddle, but this stuff seriously traumatised me.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alan Perrott,

    yeah man, but the spell was broken for me when we went for a Sunday drive (what the hell were they about?) along Redoubt Rd and I found out Rick Martell and King Curtis were neighbours. that wasn’t right.

    Okay, okay ... work with me here. Two pro wrestlers buy neighbouring houses – and then the problems start.

    It's 'Neighbours at War' only with PRO WRESTLERS.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Hosking,

    It was barbaric. Corporal punishment was a doddle, but this stuff seriously traumatised me.

    Everyone I've told about it reacts with a deep sense of shock and sadness. No, really, they do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    For me Mohammed Ali’s anti-war stand and friendship with Malcolm X were defining.

    Later, in high school, I heard about Malcolm X (bless my great New Zealand liberal education), but in 1974 I was 12 years old and was taken by his extraordinary presence in popular culture. You could halve those TV audience figures and they’d still be remarkable. One of the tensions in When We Were Kings is the way Ali plays on the adoration of the people in Zaire while Foreman, another black man, becomes the isolated bad guy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So that's where the George Foreman grill comes from!

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    One of the tensions in When We Were Kings is the way Ali plays on the adoration of the people in Zaire while Foreman, another black man, becomes the isolated bad guy.

    Ali's demonising of Foreman, backed up by the dubious showmanship of Don King, seems to have been a repeat of the formula that led to his breakthrough victory over Sonny Liston. While When We Were Kings delivered a riveting 90 minutes of fascinating history, it barely touched on the bizarre background story of how the "rumble in the jungle" came about.

    Given the kind of dictator that Mobutu Sese Seko was - even the macho Norman Mailer was moved to pity "the poor women who are associated with this fellow" - and his role as a CIA-backed cold war linchpin, Ali's willingness to allow himself to be used as window dressing for a thoroughly horrible regime seems naive at best. The following year he repeated the favour for the Marcos regime with his narrow victory over Joe Frazier in Manila.

    Looking back it seems remarkable that these events took place in the midst of the cold war, when the first-world third-world divide was a truly fraught and dangerous thing. In December of 1975 Deep Purple, who for whatever reasons were hugely popular in Indonesia, played to one of their largest ever audiences in Jakarta. What began as a kind of triumphal parade with a military escort rapidly soured as the band watched their fans savagely beaten by police during their show.

    After being held virtual prisoners in an extortion heist by their military "hosts" they eventually fled the country, leaving their equipment and a dead crew member behind. Perhaps it's a tribute to the organising skills of US foreign policy - and Don King - that no-one was killed in either of Ali's third world outings.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Marc C,

    I have been counting the dead so to say, this year, and it shocks me. Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, who will be next? It reminds me of my own mortality, and that of all of us, it really scares me, something seriously, how we will all end up there, ashes to ashes so to say.

    There comes the question what is life all about, and is there not some reason for religion and faith?

    This is soul searching stuff, really seriously soul searching stuff, that I go through this year, we must be here for a purpose and for some good, or we may as well not bother anymore.

    RIP Ali, I knew you as Cassius Clay when I was little, even my somewhat racist father respected the man, same as Louis Armstrong and the runner Owens who proved the Nazis wrong during the Berlin Olympics.

    I have greatest respect for people like Ali, he has shown us how good humans can be, despite of first being a boxer, not so kind to his competitors.

    We need peace on earth, we never needed it more, as present generations have forgotten the past great wars, we are at risk of committing another major folly, that could destroy us all.

    Akl • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Norman Mailer's book The Fight is a superb account of The Rumble In The Jungle, too.

    Regardless of what you may think of Mailer as a person (personally, I thought he came across as a blow-hard) or anything else he wrote, it captures the lead-up, the fight itself and the key people brilliantly.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    while Foreman, another black man, becomes the isolated bad guy.

    Foreman also gained no rapport with the Kinshasa locals starting when he emerged from his plane with his alsatian, a powerful repressive symbol of Sese Seko's awful regime.

    My memory is hazy too on the detail and timing of the '74 and '75 fights but I do recall being let out of school early on both occasions to see them. Around that time too, boxing was genuinely popular locally and was the main activity at clubs like Crichton Cobbers - which has now re-branded as 'fitness for everybody'!

    Hah, I was actually at the same school as pugilist Kevin Barry and his younger brother. They were scary as kids. Now I may have been mistaken in my interpretation - as a puny schoolkid in the '70s - but these guys seemed more intent on using boxing as a stand-over technique than a self-defence aid.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 379 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    So that’s where the George Foreman grill comes from!

    The story goes, the marketing company had someone else in mind for the grill, but they didn't answer the phone so they rang George Forman.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Okay, okay ... work with me here. Two pro wrestlers buy neighbouring houses – and then the problems start.

    It's 'Neighbours at War' only with PRO WRESTLERS.

    Throw in a leaked sex tape, an online 'new media' organisation with a dubious ethical track record, and a shady libertarian billionaire with a grudge, behind the scenes pulling the strings, and you might have something. Or is that all too OTT....?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Rich Lock,

    nah man, this was the 70s, think more twee, upscaled versions of your trad Lockwood home with driveways featuring a turning circle - that was the height of posh - and more than one chimney.
    much more likely to be home to fondue key parties.

    I asked my parents to park across the road for a bit to see if they checked their mail in their wrestling costumes, but their thirst for the truth didn't match mine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • richard maclean,

    Yeah we were sent home early from our intermediate school for the Rumble in the Jungle and then our high school the next year for the Frazier fight. Both schools closed down. Teachers in walkshorts legged it to the pub.

    wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Chrys Berryman,

    On the 22nd November 1965 a group of us left our 3 hour School Certificate maths exam after 20 minutes [you couldn't leave any earlier] and raced to the main street and the Farmers front window and watched Ali fight Floyd Patterson......live on T.V!
    .......my mark for the exam was 11/100......but hey well worth it,his influence on us kids in that small S.I town was huge.......a black man who didn't take any shit,and our racist fathers couldn't stand him.......double whammy!

    Pt Chevalier • Since Sep 2014 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Chrys Berryman,

    On the 22nd November 1965 a group of us left our 3 hour School Certificate maths exam after 20 minutes [you couldn’t leave any earlier] and raced to the main street and the Farmers front window and watched Ali fight Floyd Patterson……live on T.V!
    …….my mark for the exam was 11/100……but hey well worth it,

    Ye gods! Did you get in any trouble?

    But are you sure it was live? The first live satellite broadcast to New Zealand was Princess Anne's wedding in 1973. The four regional stations weren't even networked till 1969.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Chrys Berryman, in reply to Russell Brown,

    ...no problems with the school, we were all regarded as freezing work fodder anyway [altho I did manage some tertiary studies later on ]...a couple of my mates got zero...later they expressed their disappointment with this result as one had spelt his name correctly ,and the other one said he should have got 1 for neatness.! ...it must have been a delayed broadcast,but what the hell it was still worth the effort.....I think I may have watched Princess Anne's wedding under the influence of LSD.......Captain Mark Philips still freaks me out a bit....

    Pt Chevalier • Since Sep 2014 • 16 posts Report Reply

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