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ALI-Frazier Statue May Indeed Be In Order

Posted on 03/07/2011

A friend told me recently that the Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah fight drew the largest crowd in the history of Madison Square Garden.

Well, I don’t know, but all I could think of is that they must have added a lot more seats to the arena. That’s the only way I can imagine something like that happening.

As much as we congratulate Judah on winning a “world title” this past weekend, and acknowledge that Cotto is in a fight that deserves some attention this coming weekend against Ricardo Mayorga, we must, at the same time, recognize that in a hundred lifetimes, neither fighter could ever hope to match the accomplishments of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and neither could ever generate the interest the two heavyweight titans commanded in their first epic bout, which just happens to have taken place forty years ago this week.

Donald Trump says he attended the fight as a 23-year-old (the math doesn’t quite work out, as he was born in 1946, but I guess who’s counting?), and says that the fight was “the greatest event in new York City ever,” something I would tend to agree with, at least during my lifetime.

Bill Gallo, the veteran columnist for the New York Daily News, had written a column several years ago, suggesting that a statue be built at the Garden honoring that fight. He wrote letters to the pertinent parties. Nobody ever responded.

Then just recently, he wrote that kind of column again, emphasizing to those who may not remember, how much of a monster the fight was.

“Never in the history of sports has there been such day-to-day ballyhoo,” he wrote. “Every newspaper in New York City, all of the media, were on top of this one, two to three months prior. There was never a dull moment in the coverage. It was big, folks, very big.”

Then he made the further suggestion that Donald Trump might be the guy to get it done and erect it somewhere. If the Garden doesn’t want it, maybe Trump, who has discussed purchasing the Tavern of the Green, would put it in front of that, although I think it would lose a lot of steam there. Citi Field, maybe? Sure, if he takes the Mets off Wilpon’s hands. But hey, as Gallo explains, “Donald Trump is a man who seems to get everything and anything done.”

I admit I would feel a little strange being called out in print like that, but Trump did respond by calling Gallo, saying that it was a great idea and that he was “studying it.”

Well, he doesn’t need to study it. If he’s interested, he should build the thing, and find someplace within the city (preferably Manhattan) to put it up. There’s no reason the Garden shouldn’t do it, since it was one of the signature events upon which the arena, in its current location, built its worldwide brand. If that can’t be done, maybe a collection could be taken up, among all the people who have made money off the “Ali industry” throughout the years. heaven knows there are plenty of people who fit that description.

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