Saturday, January 14, 2006

1/1/2006 - New Year's Day in Canastota

Given my proximity to the International Boxing Hall of Fame Museum, I wish that I could say that I was spending Boxing Day in Canastota. But I'm not, so pop open some bubbly and let's check out the boxers.

Before we go in, I must confess to having had a great interest in finding out what Canastota means. And thanks to Liz Metzger, I now know the name to come from an Native American word meaning "Cluster of Pines."

I must also confess that I have almost no interest in boxing at all. To me it's less of a "sport" and more of "what I try to keep my eldest from doing." Still, I am a big fan of Halls of Fame and in I go. After browsing the museum for a while, I settle on an exhibit of Ali and Frazier and what was billed as the "Fight of the Century." After reading the description I find that even I have been sucked into the drama of the night.

To begin with, imagine the 16-0 Colts going up against the 16-0 Eagles in the Superbowl. The 82-0 Spurs challenging the 82-0 Pistons for the NBA title. The 162-0 Red Sox coming face to face with the 162-0 Mets in the World Series.

Neither Ali nor Frazier had ever lost a fight when they met. Ali was stripped of his Heavyweight title when he dodged the draft. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so did Frazier, who quickly picked up what Ali left behind. After some considerable layoff, Ali re-entered the world of boxing and did himself justice, with two impressive victories. Demonstrating himself still undefeatable, Ali called for Frazier.

Parenthetically, at this point in the narrative, I find myself routing for Ali. A mere 3 paragraphs ago, I had no interest in the sport.

From the opening bell, it was clear to all that Ali had lost something in his break from boxing. At several points in the match, it looked like Frazier was going to achieve the knockout he sought. But Ali clung to his consciousness and managed to struggle through 15 rounds before being declared the loser.

15 rounds and no knockout. I guess, for a pacifist such as myself, that's the best that boxing can produce.

I hope that it's quite a few years before my sons read this.

22,500 bellicose steps today. Cheers,

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