Where were you for the Thrilla in Manila, October 1, 1975?

Where were you on the morning of October 1, 1975, as Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila?

To help remind you, here is the fight. (Add your comment below)


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Gee I wish I could remember where I was and what I was doing. Probably at home watching on the old black and white TV. When a big world title fight was on, our house came to a stand still. Wouldn’t matter if the Pope turned up we would be watching the fight. In 1975 the “new room” hadn’t been built yet so we would all have crowded in the lounge room (except Mum who hated boxing).

    Doesn’t bare thinking about what these two would do to the modern heavy weight slops.

  2. As a 13 year old and at school I was not allowed to watch.

    I have watched this fight many times over the years and it was not until I watched the documentary on this fight, telling the story from a different perspective, Joe Frazier’s, did my opinion of Ali diminish slightly. Ali was merciless in his taunting and bullying of Frazier and after slugging it out to near death, neither man would yield to the other. If you get the chance watch the doco behind the fight. They were fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of each other!


  3. Davep – I watched that doco after Frazier died and as you say it does diminish Ali’s reputation and rightly so I think. It was an amazing fight and an amazing era for boxing.

  4. Shane John Backx says

    At trade school at Preston Tech in Melbourne. No classes that arvo!! Teachers, Principal, Vice Principal and students crammed into a classroom to watch a b&w portable. Whenever Smokin and Ali went at it, the whole world stopped to watch. Literally. Also knew a bloke who actually was at the fight. Said it was incredible

  5. I was a junior at MIT in the States and didn’t catch a moment live but read about it the next day. Since though as my career took me to a 25-year stay at the Louisville newspaper I’ve read extensively about every significant Ali fight. As it happened, Sunday was a get-together of former newspaper staffers and we reminisced about Ali and his career. I’ve got a piece going up I hope soon about Louisville’s relationship to The Champ.

  6. You derailed my arvo with this. Stunning how Ali could crystalize flurries of near-perfect coordination from the deepest fatigue. Those late rounds when he smells Joe’s weakness. (Or notices his blindness.) I’ve watched this many times and these days I find I’m barracking for Joe. Loses his mouthguard in the 12th? and they just let him keep on fighting. (I suppose if Ali lost I’d be barracking for him, which tells you something about our ability to empathise with warriors.)
    Notice Ali collapses and Joe gets up to fight at the end, “Don’t do this to me. I want him.”
    The commentary is as bad as the boxing is good. “Ken did you talk tactics with Futch before the fight? What Joe might do?” “No.” “Oh, okay.”
    And when the towel is thrown in the ring begins to fill with the worst type of peacock scum. Don King, Marcos… that’s boxing.
    PS worth YouTubing Paul Simon in concert singing The Boxer he announces to the crowd the death of The Greatest… then goes on with the next verse.
    Vale Ali. Wouldn’t we all like a tenth of the shit he had going on.

  7. Richard Jones says

    I WAS the round-by-round caller for the ABC’s 9PA Port Moresby when Joe Frazier stopped off in Moresby en route to the Thrilla In Manila.
    Smokin Joe boxed an entertaining 6 exhibition rounds against 2 local (white) heavyweights — three rounds each. From memory, I think I called the first 3 rounds against local rugby league hero and big man, Digger Annand.
    Then went back to PA mike duties.
    It must have been late June-early July as Joe had come from Melbourne not long before where he’d beaten The Champ’s sparring partner Jimmy Ellis. In a fully sanctioned bout.
    Smokin Joe was keen to do interviews and the size of his entourage had to be seen to be believed.
    The local PNGeans rushed down to ringside where they waved the fingers at Joe and told him he was “no Muhammad Ali.”
    Joe just shrugged it off.

  8. Richard, you have to write that story. Our readers would love it.

    AJC, thanks for Paul Simon tip. That de-railed my evening via YouTube. Boxer into American Tue into O Sacred Haed Now Wounded into Graceland. I saw the Graceland concert at Boondall in Brisvegas. Rang up at last minute and there’d been a cancellation. Third row. I could see the quality of the plastic in the plectrum.

    But I never saw Ali.

    Interesting that Dylan was a fan and has posted on his website.

  9. Oh, and I should say, I was in Grade 8 at Oakey State High School. Oct 1, apart from being Gary Ablett’s 14th birthday in downtown Drouin, was a Wednesday. That means we would have had double sport after lunch.

    I suppose I knew the fight was on and I imagine some kids were talking about it. We were not a boxing family. We kids watched boxing like we watched motor racing, for the denouement – the huge prang or the knockout..

    But some of the more worldly kids – like the Leahys from the Commercial Hotel – knew about boxing and horse racing and poker and cigarettes and Grade 7 girls. They loved Muhammad Ali.

    I have a vague memory of the fight. But I reckon we must have watched a replay that afternoon at home after school. I thought the fight was late morning? Or mid-afternoon?

    Of course I learnt of the significance of Ali soon after – interestingly while watching something on TV in about Grade 11 on Malcolm X whom I found fascinating. Roots had screened at about that time and I became interested in the civil rights movement. I couldn’t believe states like Missisippi and Alabama and the whole legacy of slavery thing.

    Of course my ignorance was extensive: I was oblivious to the situation in my own state (Qld) and country.

    If you ever doubt the impact of mainstream culture/ideology I am happy to make 14 year old me Exhibit A. Without wanting to overstate it, Muhammad Ali invited a challenge to my unsophisticated understanding.

  10. THERE’S the link to my 2009 story about Joe Frazier being heckled by PNGeans right above the ‘header’ Comments, Harmsy. Right on this very page.
    Seems I wrote the yarn back in 2009.
    So click on it, and there she is.
    Interesting to note one of the pallbearers at The Champ’s funeral will be Jimmy Ellis’ brother.

  11. Tom Martin says

    The first time I watched the Thrilla round-by-round was on a 9 inch screen embedded in the back of the Qantas seat in front of mine, a bloody ruby buried seven menus deep amidst a dross of sporto-trivia-documentaria. Junior Motocross. Golf from Asia. Yet another syndicated, jingoistic reverie of Beefy Bofam back in 81.

    I had recently seen the feature documentary that didn’t flatter Ali, a necessary counterpoint to the shimmering hagiography of ‘When We Were Kings’. Both sides of the story in harmony. Right-left. 1-2.

    I was still haunted by the creaking voice of a decrepit Joe Frazier, forever trapped in his corner by the fates of that night, rasping with heat, bitterness and pain. No other living soul had set foot in Joe’s dusty, delapidated gym in Philly for decades. Every cruel phantom of his long career seemed to have signed for lifetime membership.

    The fight is tremendously absorbing and will defy any attempt at tidy summary. It simply must be seen.

    The plane’s descent into Adelaide tilted me further toward the edge of my seat for the championship rounds and the severest punishment inflicted on each champion, by each champion. When the penultimate round staggered to the bell I sought respite in the view out the window of toy houses zooming past and the ground rushing to meet me.

    The impact of the landing juddered me out of a trance. Mercy had thrown in the towel and the prize for justice and compassion was total defeat. The victor of the spoil obscured by the Filipino pandemonium that followed.

    The most exemplary exhibit of the beauty in boxing is decisive proof of its senseless brutality.

  12. Shane Johnson says

    As a 21 yo bank teller in his first year playing footy with Mayne in Brisbane I was given time to wander down to the electrical store at the Lutwyche shopping centre to watch this epic contest…..a lifetime memory….colour TV came in that year so not sure why it wasnt in colour…iust may have been?

  13. May well have been broadcast in colour (I don’t know) but we didn’t get our first colour TV until The Sullivans had well and truly started and Rush was almost finished.

  14. Peter Miers says

    I was in a Form 2 Maths class at Greythorn High School out in the leafy burbs. ‘Basil” Stevens (he may well have had a first name, but we only ever referred to him as Basil, for reasons now lost to time), was the Vice Principal and something of an enigma, at least from this day forth. Hitherto he had been a doddery old twit to us 13-year olds preoccupied with little beyond footy and girls, but on this day the PA system crackled mid-lesson and Basil’s voice echoed from room to room throughout the school. Usually the PA only interrupted lessons with emergency drills, but on this day Basil announced that Muhammad Ali had defeated Joe Frazier. I didn’t know much about boxing but for Basil to have stopped our world for a sporting result lent it an importance on a par with man landing on the moon, and won him our grudging respect. I wish now I’d known more about him.

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