Monday 19 March 2018

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Two champions in different arenas

Boxing lost two greats recently, Smokin' Joe Frazier, who was laid to rest in Philadelphia and rightly acknowledged by Tommy Conlon [Nov 13], and boxing writer/raconteur George Kimball.

Frazier's left hook in the 15th round at Madison Square Gardens in the 'Fight of the Century' started a symbiotic relationship with Muhammad Ali which defined boxing in the '70s and which culminated in their mutually destructive 'Thrilla in Manila' in 1975. Kimball, whose erudite writings and avuncular personality lit up a sport that was once as popular as baseball in the US, perfectly captured the contradiction at its centre. "Even when dressed up as the manly art of self defense . . . in no other sport this side of duelling is it an objective to inflict pain, or even physical harm, on one's opponents."

In Kimball's book of essays Manly Art (a marvellous collection which thankfully has just been published on this side of the Atlantic, although unfortunately not before George's sad demise in July of this year), he outlines the first meeting between Frazier and Ali when Frazier, crowned Olympic heavyweight champion in 1964, visited Ali's training camp before Ali's rematch with Sonny Liston. Asking the champion's advice, Frazier was surely rebuffed somewhat by Ali's reply "Lose some weight and become a light heavyweight". Maybe this is where their great rivalry which transcended boxing truly started.

I remember as a sports-mad 12-year-old, getting up in the early hours with my equally sports-mad mother to watch Ali-Frazier III and being entranced by a fight that first went Ali's way, then Frazier's, until Ali summoned a superhuman effort which led to Eddie Futch, Frazier's trainer, retiring his almost blinded man at the end of the 14th round, just beating Ali, who was about to retire himself, to the punch. In Manly Art, Kimball reminds us of Eddie Futch's words to his pleading fighter: "No one will forget what you did here today."

Something not widely known about Frazier is that he tried to have Ali's boxing licence reinstated after Ali had been stripped of his heavyweight title and exiled for three years for refusing induction into military service, even pleading Ali's case to President Nixon.

Mark Lawler

Double class of Irish is last straw

I agree entirely with the points raised in the letter by Richard Murphy, Rónán Miles and David Monaghan [Nov 27]. I am an ardent rugby supporter and while I do not get to all of the matches I would like, I did enjoy watching them on TV. Now, with most of the games in Irish, it's like a death in the family.

Having spent many years in England, I have lost the little knowledge of the Irish language I had when I left school. So now I cannot watch the many matches that are shown on TG4. Sometimes I turn down the sound but find that I lose interest very quickly.

The last straw for me was last Saturday when I found that there were two matches on TG4, Connacht v Ospreys and Munster v Edinburgh. I could hardly contain my frustration and for the safety of the TV I switched it off.

Does anyone care that so many people who have little or no Irish are to be deprived of the enjoyment of watching their favourite games in the comfort of their own homes?

I feel that I and many others in my age group are devastated by the fact we cannot watch matches that have the commentary in Irish and that we have over the years contributed quite a bit of time and money towards the local development of facilities for the game of rugby to be played and enjoyed by all that wish to attend.

Patrick McGinty

Standing up to

the spoilsports

Seventy years ago, I sat on my father's shoulder on Hill 16 and cheered Ringey and company to the first of their four-in-a-row.

Fifty nine years ago, I stood in the crowd at Lansdowne Road to see Mick Lane score his first international try. Fifty-odd years ago, I used to stand on one of the embankments at Stamford Bridge and encourage Chelsea (except when Manchester United were in town), or at Twickenham for the visits of Ireland.

Next March, I take my grandson to Old Trafford and we will have to sit down.

All at the direction of the fairies in Elf-and-Safety. My eight-year-old grandson will never experience the joy of swaying with a crowd, or of exchanging good-natured banter with opposing fans and all the other 'fun of the fair'.

Where is Miranda's Brave New World? Sic transit gloria mundi!

Why this rant? I see that a review carried out for the GAA has decided, for E&S, the capacity of Páirc Uí Chaoimh should be cut by a third and it is not alone. And we thought we had got rid of Cromwell and the Puritans.

Cal Hyland

Sunday Indo Sport

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