Admitting Ali Lost Helped Me Learn To Be Objective And Honest

Admitting Ali Lost Helped Me – With the passing of former undisputed heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali last week, the world is mourning and the boxing community and its writers are trying to come up with something new to say about him. To that I say forget about it because you can’t pull it off. I know I won’t even attempt it. Since Ali’s passing I’ve purchased every newspaper, magazine and special edition I could get my hands on to save for the rest of my life. However, I cannot read them yet and I’ll probably save them for a rainy or snowy Saturday afternoon in the future before I even attempt to open them. In addition to that I can’t watch his fights or interviews. My healing has been through conversations with a few close friends who know what Muhammad Ali meant to me and to them too.

For the time being, whatever I write about Ali will be centered on life lessons, at least through my eyes. No, the content isn’t all about me. Instead it references the influence he had on a pre-teen/teenage white kid growing up in Haddonfield New Jersey in the mid-sixties and seventies. But before I go into that let me get the obvious out of the way.

As a fighter I rank Muhammad Ali as the greatest heavyweight champion in boxing history. He was the alpha fighter during the greatest generation in heavyweight history. And he accomplished that in-spite of the fact that he didn’t box during his physical prime due to his 43 month exile for refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army and partake in the Vietnam War. As a fighter Ali had more ways and weapons to win fights both physically and mentally than any other heavyweight who has yet lived. In addition to that a fighter couldn’t be –because it’s impossible to be — tougher than Ali was inside and out. I expect history to be very kind to Muhammad Ali when it comes to ranking him among the greatest of the greats.

As a 13 year old Lotierzo learns your mentor and icon doesn’t have to win:

Prior to the first Frazier vs. Ali bout, I was obsessed with the fight and who was going to win — so much so that my father forbid me to talk about it or mention Ali by name at the dinner table. This suited my mother fine because she thought Ali was too cocky and was rooting heavily for Frazier to beat him in the “Fight of The Century.” I tried to explain to her that Ali’s verbal shots at Frazier were just a way for him to promote the fight, but she wasn’t having it and was steadfast for “Smokin” Joe. At that time I hated Joe Frazier because I feared he was Ali’s equal or greater. As luck would have it, the kid who lived across the street from me, Guy Spicer, was a huge Frazier fan. Guy was a pretty quiet kid who was three years older than me. He feared Ali was going to win the fight and kept his rooting interest in check because he knew I would never let it go if Ali had won.

As you know Joe Frazier beat Ali by a 15-round unanimous decision in Super-fight I. Joe dropped Ali with a left hook that was heard around the world in the final round and that was an even bigger story than him winning the bout. I was fortunate in that my father took me, along with my uncle and cousin to see the fight live, for my birthday which was a month after the fight. Unfortunately my friend Guy didn’t get to see the fight. So about a month after it he and I ordered the super 8 mm film of the bout from an ad in the back of The Ring magazine. The copy was black and white and it was only selected highlights of eight different rounds of the fight. The film cost fifteen dollars and the agreement was we would split the cost and I would keep the film. However, it did me no good because Guy had the projector in his attic. So on Thursday nights I used to go over his house around nine o’clock and watch the film of the fight.

I could never get enough of watching it and tried to find a way to convince Guy as we watched together that Ali really did win and was screwed out of the decision because the judges viewed him as a draft-dodger. Whenever we watched the film of Frazier-Ali I would jump up and throw mock punches at the air emulating Ali hitting Frazier, in a childish attempt to convince him that Ali won and that I really believed it. Then one night while doing this I turned around and saw that Guy had fallen asleep and wasn’t paying attention to my theatrics.

Once I realized he was sleeping, I sat down and continued to watch the fight. As I was watching it I said to myself, Guy is asleep and will never know what you’re really thinking. Suppose you just landed from Mars and didn’t know who either fighter was – who would you think is really getting the better of it, the tall guy in the red trunks or the shorter guy in the green trunks? I said to myself, the shorter guy in the green trunks is getting the better of it. As we know Ali was the taller guy wearing red trunks.

At that moment I admitted to myself, and shortly afterward to anyone else who asked, that Joe Frazier legitimately beat Muhammad Ali on March 8th, 1971. Believe me, it was very hard to accept, but I just couldn’t continue lying to myself regarding the outcome. Even as a 13 year-old I knew too much about boxing and had to accept that Frazier really won and there wasn’t any politics or bias involved; he just flat out won. Yes it was close but there was simply no case to make favoring Ali. At that time I didn’t know they would fight two more times and Ali would win both fights. What I did know was Ali lost and I had to accept it. At that moment I promised myself that for the rest of my life I would never again lie to myself and try to hide from the truth.

Once I admitted Ali lost to Frazier the first time they fought I was liberated and vowed to be honest and objective regarding things subjective that involved my team or my buddy or personal favorite. Granted, none of us are completely without bias, but I can tell you that I’ve done the best I possibly could in trying to do so. It just took me to admit aloud that Muhammad Ali lost in order for me to do it. Admitting as a 13 year old Ali lost was really tough, but I figured if I could be honest about that, anything else would be a piece of cake. As you well know, Muhammad Ali was often times about learning and life lessons. Through Ali I learned to never lie to myself!

Admitting Ali Lost Helped Me

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at



Comment on this article


-Radam G :

Denial is a terrible thing. But acceptance is a self-healing healthy thing. To this very day, up-in-age boksing officials, not accepting that the late, great Poppa Smoke beat the late, great Pops Butterflyin Bout I, cheat like it is no tomorrow. They have straight-up amateur-ized pro boksing with pitty-patting and bytch touching while the amateurs are pro-like now as it has started counting heavy shots and blasts more than touch hitting, light hitting and bullbytch hitting. The amateurs is now the bomb. And the pros -- on the mainland American scene -- is [sic] now Mayweather dud syet. No hate! Just some sad syet! And he was on dat syet for most of his career. USADA and NSAC are bulljivers about cleaning up what has never been clean. Anyway! Pro boxing nowadays counts light shots and act like heavy ones ain't happening. This is the reason that Money May is still undefeated. He was clearly upset by Jose Luis Castillo in the first scrap between them. Maybe the self-proclaimed TBE will reconsider and stay retired. NYET! His fat arse will be back in the gym in a week or two. Holla!

-dino da vinci :

@Frank. As a kid I was a big Frazier fan...but a bigger fan of Ali. When told I had to choose, I couldn't understand why. It's like Red Sox-Yankees I was told. But those are my two favorite baseball teams, I'd counter. (Note: When using analogies, make sure they make sense to the person you are trying to convince). So for years I stated Ali won the fight which was interesting because I had actually never seen the fight. I had gone on other people's opinion, the supposed 3-1 punch landed favoring Ali, et al. And he was Ali! Has there ever been a more graceful heavyweight? An assassin inside a work of art that moved like Fred Astaire. What's not to like? Several years ago I finally see the fight (Good people, I stay amazing busy!) and well before the knockdown that I know still lies ahead I'm thinking, well, this didn't go very well!

-StormCentre :

Interesting piece Frank. Gotta admit that in the thread I am currently laboring over related to Ali, I contemplated also making a point out of the fact that, to some extent - particularly in hindsight - it didn't really matter whether Ali won or not. As, for the most part his fights were that epic. That said, I wouldn't want to be the guy that had to sell that view to Frazier. Or Foreman.
Storm. :) :) :)

-Gabrielito :

Great read! It's honestythat keeps us readers coming back too. I had no problem admitting my guy lost , I just was bummed about it. I was legit depressed for a few days when James Toney lost to Roy Jones. But I knew he lost clean .

-Radam G :

Great read! It's honestythat keeps us readers coming back too. I had no problem admitting my guy lost , I just was bummed about it. I was legit depressed for a few days when James Toney lost to Roy Jones. But I knew he lost clean .
Hehehe! Funny as heck! "...just was bummed about it. I was legit depressed for a few days when James Toney lost to Roy Jones...." Classic stuff, my readermate! Holla!

-Tex Hassler :

I have noticed that when they run Ali's fights on TV that they tend to leave out the first Ali vs Frazier fight. I like both fighters but I think some tend to cover up Ali's loss to Joe Fraizer in the first of their three fights.

-StormCentre :

I have noticed that when they run Ali's fights on TV that they tend to leave out the first Ali vs Frazier fight. I like both fighters but I think some tend to cover up Ali's loss to Joe Fraizer in the first of their three fights.
Yes (I agree) they do. In that respect, it is like the rivalry between Hearns and Leonard, where - for the most part - the media and many others - already adopted the (popular) view that SRL was better and more exciting. And as such they almost always refer/default to the fight/event between Hearns and Leonard that serves their needs better. Frazier - as a boxer - in my opinion (if not every bit as good as Ali, then he) was not far behind Ali in terms of what he represented as an opponent - how tough/durable he was - his ability to stay positive and never give up . . And, of course, his ability to win at all costs. Good observation TH.
Storm. :) :)

-Radam G :

I have noticed that when they run Ali's fights on TV that they tend to leave out the first Ali vs Frazier fight. I like both fighters but I think some tend to cover up Ali's loss to Joe Fraizer in the first of their three fights.
I don't see a cover up of the late, great GOAT Ali losing to the late, great Poppa Smoke. The whuppin' he put on Pops Butterfly was no joke. Ev'ybodee and dey momma constantly see that photo at the top. That photo is one of the most famous photo ever taken in pugilism. But the boksing media are guilty like a 1,001 sins of covering up foul syet of diz, dat and da third about how GOAT Ali was likely medically poisoned and Parkinson syndrome Frankensteinized by a double agent, dirty doktor. Likely as a part of the FBI's operations of conspiracies to halt a Messiah from rising up to making even more changes in this crazy, topsy-turvy world. Holla at how nobodee and dey nephew pay stuff like this a never mind.
-> Holla!

-brownsugar :

Flo-Lo is on fire this week and this article blazes up like a supernova from the Andromeda sector. I remember that fateful day as if it was yesterday. My mom who had been secretly divorced from my father for over two full years finally deemed it appropriate to go on her first real date with another man. You have to realize that living in a middle class neighborhood in the 60's and 70's was almost as repressive as growing up in a fundamentalist terrorist cell, everyone was into everyone else's business in those days and were eager to report the slightest instance of sin and impropriety,. everyone and anyone was always primed and ready to cast the first stone at the slightest hint of infidelity during those backward times. My brothers and sisters were sleeping over at a friends house and me,. .... a twelve year old Ali fanatic, and partime science geek, I was dutifully tuning the battery operated transistor radio i had received as a birthday gift to optimize the signal..... Once I had found the sweet spot which happened to triangulate in my mom's room I focused my attention on the raucus and exuberant announcers voices, their voices becoming my personal conduit to "THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY". It wasn't going well for Ali,.. after gaining momentum in the previous rounds, Ali was hit with three consecutive booming left hooks in the eleventh. Ali always came back but was it enough? it was distressing enough to learn that Ali could have possibly suffered a broken jaw. Then it happened,. Ali was flattened by a Mack Truck of a left hook! Man Down!!! My hopes of an Ali victory were deflating quicker than the Golden State Warriors hopes of winning an NBA championship ring after Lebron's rejection of an Andre Iguodala layup with less than two minutes left in the game and his subsequent monster dunk to seal the victory. People in the neighborhood started pouring into the Eastside Columbus City streets... WE DID IT, WE FINALLY DID IT!!!!! But there was nothing to celebrate in 1971, as the sickening reality began to sink - in, and the howling sense of dispair began to creep in,. .... I had decided never to leave the house again, not even to go to school. Frazier looked like he had been beaten with a baseball bat, his face,...a mass of contusions and swellings after the fight. Burt Lancaster and Archie Moore were musing over whether or not Ali would ever fight again and if he still might end up going to prison to complete a 3-5 year sentence because he had dared to question the government's right to send him tens of thousands of miles away to kill some other brownskinned people from a country he barely even knew existed. Even though Ali had a lump on his face from what appeared to be a broken jaw, Frazier would be the first to visit the hospital. Ali sat solemnly,. surrounded by a legion of his entourage and the press and slowly began to speak. What's wrong with yawl? .....It's was only a fight. It's just boxing....I'm alright and I'll get my title back. So calm and self assured,. Ali began to speak highly of Frazier, gave no excuses and found the energy the joke and play even though he had a broken jaw. Ali wasn't in need of consoling..... he infact consoled his millions of fans worldwide who were grieving his first loss. And he did it with the grace and poise of a wise emperor. The press was more interested in what else Ali had to say than they cared about Frazier's impressions on winning the title. Somehow even in defeat, Ali found a way to win again..... I guess I'd be going to school the following day after all,. It was just a fight, we'll get Joe on the next one. Nothing's changed....Ali is still the Champ. Great article.