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Doctor Tried To Put Damper on Ali-Frazier Fight

Posted on 03/07/2011

After fifteen rounds of brutal, spectacular action, the general consensus about the first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier among ringsiders was that it was one of the greatest fights they had ever seen, and certainly one that did great credit to the legacies of both men.

However, there was one observer, who has not at ringside, who thought he had seen something shady. And he went public in a way that had many people around the fight game scratching their heads.

A couple of weeks after the fight, a British doctor popped up out of nowhere with the claim that there was a “fix” in the fight. Dr. Joseph Blonstein, who at the time was the senior medical officer of the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA), claimed that Ali’s actions (he referred to him as “Clay” were “mysterious.”

“His eyes looked glazed and in all the major fights I have seen Clay in I have never seen him move so slowly,” Dr. Blonstein wrote in a medical journal entitled “The General Practitioner.”

Blonstein made the insinuation that Ali had been doped. His evidence was that he had watched it on closed circuit television and made a “considered conclusion” from his observations. “He could have been doped without knowing about it,” the doctor wrote. “How else can you explain his eyes that were glazed at the beginning of the fight?”

Blonstein was not a quack, but instead someone who was respected by many people on an international level.

Of course, that didn’t mean anything to Ali, who called Blonstein’s assertions “ridiculous” but still found an opportunity to make some light out of it.

“How could he (Blonstein) be so good on television when the judges were so blind at ringside and said I didn’t win?,” he asked.

Edwin Dooley, who was the chairman of the New York commission, was not so amused. He insisted that his medical people had been on top of the situation from beginning to end, and even afterwards. “it was irresponsible for the London doctor to make a medical prognosis from a closed circuit telecast, possibly distorted, from 3000 miles away,” Dooley said.

Those columnists who paid any attention at all to Blonstein’s story intimated that it was just a ploy to get his name in the papers, and I guess in that instance it turned out to be a successful ploy.

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