Before and After Deer Lake Part Two
By ice rivers
Remember those primitive days of photography before digital, when Kodak was king?
Kodak was clearly the driving engine of my hometown, Rochester New York. Rochester is the home of George Eastman who began the process of bringing photography to the masses.
I shot 72 exposures of Ali-Frazier 2 from ringside. As I watched the fight through the lens of my Canon, I saw Ali stagger Joe early and hold on to win a clear round decision. Of course, the arena was electrified for the entire hour of the match although not quite as overwhelmed as during the first fight. The second fight wasn't for any title. Ali and Frazier were no longer undefeated. Joe whipped Ali in the first fight and then Joe got bounced all over the ring by George Foreman in Jamaica.
Down goes Frazier.
The aura of invincibility was gone and the shadow of vulnerabilty had arrived for all of us.
Too bad the second fight wasn't the first fight. Perhaps it would have stopped Ali and Frazier from killing each other if Ali had won the first fight..... but then again maybe not.
Maybe nothing could have.
Manilla was irresistibly ahead.
Gonna have A Thrilla
My father had been stationed in Manilla during World War Two. He was part of the group getting ready for the invasion of Japan. My father figured there was a chance that he might soon become fodder.
Bull sessions became decidedly spiritual.
One clear and starry night at the bombed out Manilla opera house, he ran into a "strange looking" officer who told my father not to worry about the invasion. The officer "knew" that we had a "surprise" weapon and there would be no invasion of Japan.
Hiroshima followed shortly.
My father came home shortly after that as did thousands of other fathers.
Their wives were glad to see them.
Nine months later the baby boom began.
My birthday is Dec 30, 1946
But that's another story.
Where was I?
The next morning bright and early we flew out of New York city.
We returned to another celebration at the Monroe County Airport where my buddies were wrapping up their all night , post fight revelry.
Such were the butterfly effects of every Ali-Frazier fight all over the world. Plenty of floating and plenty of sting.
Butterflies and bees
You'd throw your slides into a Kodak Carousel and voila...a slide show up against the wall.
Needless to say I threw quite a few slides against quite a few walls over the years as I told my Ali stories.
I liked one of the slides in particular.
I made a nice 11 by 14 print from that negative.
We all got older as the years passed. It seemed like Ali and Joe got older faster than everybody else. What else could we have expected?
During this time of great decline, George Chuvalo added to the pugilistic tragedy.
The Croatian Crusader.
The Heavyweight Champion of Canada.
The human punching bag and common opponent for the vastly more talented Ali and Frazier.
The man who could not be knocked down.
The man whose face had launched a thousand fists.
George Chuvalo had a face that had been sculpted by other fists into the face of a fist.
And then after George retired, life stepped in and continued the battering.
He lost his wife and sons to suicide. Heroin was very involved.
Still George refused to hit the canvas.
Word got through to his old opponents, Ali and Joe, that George was hurt and staggering but that he refused to go down.
A boxing organization in Rochester decided to throw a benefit dinner for George. Yeah it was a band aid on a shotgun wound but every little bit helps.
Joe Frazier decided to attend and waive any fee.
So did another wounded warrior name of Muhammad Ali.
Ali was shaking from Parkinsons and Joe could barely see.
Joe and Ali didn't usually appear together.
Bad blood existed.
People wondered why after all these years bad blood still existed between Ali and Frazier.
The answer is simple. These guys tried to kill each other three times in front of the whole world and they damned near succeeded.
He jest at scars who's never felt a wound.
There was a lot of laughter that night but nobody was laughing at the scars.
I was there too.
The Chuvalo benefit cost a hundred bucks to attend. My ringside seat at Ali-Frazier fight also cost $100.
So much had changed.
One thing hadn't changed.
The 11 by 14 photograph that I took at Ali Frazier 2 looked exactly the same. The two of them stalking each other in the middle of the ring, youg and heallthy and with all the lights shining on them.
I brought the picture to the benefit.