Boxing HOF celebrates Ali-Frazier every day

CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) — Boxing fans everywhere are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Ed Brophy celebrates it every day.

The world’s most famous boxing ring, the one in New York City’s Madison Square Garden where the Fight of the Century was staged 50 years ago Monday, is the centerpiece of the Boxing Hall of Fame in upstate New York where it’s on permanent display.

“It’s been a treasured piece here,” said Brophy, executive director of the Hall of Fame. “All of the champions who fought in the ring, when they come back for Hall of Fame weekend they go into the ring.”

On March 8, 1971, the first Ali-Frazier fight proved one for the ages, with Frazier scoring a unanimous decision in a bout that left both fighters battered and bruised.

“Ali-Frazier remains the most-talked-about boxing match ever and one of the most popular sporting events of all time,” said Brophy, who remembers listening to the fight on the radio in his bedroom. “The significance of the bout cannot be overstated, and it remains the fight that all other fights are measured against.”

Brophy said the ring was initially installed in the first Madison Square Garden in 1922. It was replaced in 2007 and the Hall of Fame took possession, and when the ring was transported north to a new home it was treated like royalty. Brophy decided to have the truck driver make a lap along the parade route used each summer to honor new Hall of Fame inductees.

“When that truck was coming up I felt that ring deserved to go down that parade route, even if there wasn’t a crowd,” Brophy said. “That ring is a Hall of Fame ring. It was a very emotional feeling.

“The fading of the fight may go some day as years go by, but the ring will always tell its story.”

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