That prompted a wonderful response from boxing researcher/historian Sunni Khalid, who provided a primer on Frazier’s stylings in the squared circle, along with some notes on related issues. I’ve decided to run it today as a guest-written entry. Enjoy.
Funk in the Trunks
By Sunni Khalid
For the first Ali fight, Joe was originally going to wear solid green trunks with black stripes. But his contract was owned by the Cloverlay syndicate, and they asked Everlast to come up with a design for the trunks, which ended up being the distinctive green-and-gold brocade.
For the 1973 fight against Foreman, Joe chose the gold gloves with green thumbs because the fight took place in Jamaica and he wanted his gloves to match the national colors. It was the first heavyweight title fight to feature multi-colored gloves. He had originally intended to wear the same green-and-gold brocade trunks that he’d worn in his first fight against Ali but was asked by closed-circuit TV producers to change. So he wore white trunks -”“ the first time he had done so in seven years -”“ with gold trim.
Similarly, for the Thrilla In Manila, Joe’s combination of blue and white trunks and white Adidas ring boots with red stripes was in honor of the Philippine flag. Cornermen Eddie Futch, Georgie Benton, Milt Bailey, and Hedgemon Lewis, all wore short-sleeved, dark-blue Filipino barongs, also in honor of the Philippines. This endeared Joe to many fans there.
Joe wore a range of other colors over the years: red trunks against Buster Mathis; purple trunks against Terry Daniels [and green trunks for the program cover photo ”” PL]; pink trunks (!) against Joe Bugner; and peach trunks in the second Quarry fight.
Also, starting with his first fight, Joe popularized the use of longer trunks. He started wearing trunks that had the hem at the mid-thigh before gradually dropping them to just above the knee. He also was the first fighter to use the so-called fashion-slit on the side, which was done to accommodate his large thighs.
Joe was heavyweight champ when Philadelphia was essentially the boxing capital of the world. Many of the top fighters from that era, like Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Gypsy Joe Harris (who used to enter the ring with bells on his boots!), and others, were also colorful in the ring, introducing trunks in velvet, as opposed to satin, with colors and color combinations ranging across the spectrum.
As for Ali, the red-and-white velvet trunks he wore for that first fight against Frazier were not his first choice. He was originally going to wear white trunks with silver stripes. Once TV producers saw the trunks at the Everlast factory, they asked Ali to pick another combination, because the bright trunks would have caused troublesome glare. Ali ended up wearing those trunks in his next fight, against Jimmy Ellis.
Interestingly enough, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah, thought it was a bad omen for Ali to wear red. She may have been right, because Ali wore red only three times: against Henry Cooper in ’63 (he was knocked down), against Oscar Bonavena in ’70 (a very difficult fight), and, of course, when suffering his first professional loss at the hands of Joe Frazier in 1971.
Great stuff, Sunni. Thanks so much for all the great info from the golden age of heavyweights.
Blue Jay Way: The Jays will unveil their 2012 uniforms today at noon. As you may recall, we already know what the logo will look like, but I haven’t seen the uniforms, so I’m as curious as everyone else. The event will be live-streamed here.
I’ll provide some quick reaction at 2pm (not 1:15pm, as I had originally posted here), when I’ll be appearing on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto (you can stream the live audio here). Phil will have full coverage tomorrow, and I’ll add my own thoughts on Monday.
Meanwhile, an absolutely epic examination of the first 20 years of Blue Jays uni history can be found here.
Notre Dame auction update: The auction for the Notre Dame promo box is continuing. No bids were submitted yesterday, so the high bid is still $4301 and the minimum bid for today is now $4501. If nobody bids today, the minimum bid will increase to $4601 tomorrow.
Full details on how to bid, and everything else regarding the auction, can be found here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Yesterday I mentioned that the Mariners had announced a 35th-anniversary patch. What I didn’t mention is that they also unveiled a teal-brimmed cap, which will be paired with the teal alternate jersey for Monday and Friday home games. Also: The insignia on the navy alternate jersey will now say, “Seattle,” which makes sense, since they only wear it on the road. … So many great mascot illos on this absolutely sensational program cover (wonderful find by Mike Hersh). … Chris Falvey found a site with some spectacular rare footage of the 1917 World Series. This clip is from Game 1 at Comiskey, and this one is from is from Games 3 and 4 at the Polo Grounds. Tons of other good stuff on that site, too. … NSFW: Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon (thanks, Kirsten). … Mmmm, stripe-a-licious (from Frank Bitzer). … Looks like Rex Grossman has been wearing either no-show socks or maybe no socks at all, just like Clinton Portis used to do (good spot by Jesse Agler). … That photo, incidentally, really shows how the NFL’s sock regulations have no connection to reality, because today’s players don’t wear football socks. Look at Grossman: burgundy calf-warmers over white tights. … Now here’s a good local sponsor. It’s from this jersey. … From this Pitt chat: “Question: Did Pitt do away with the blue pants? Answer: No they still have them, but from what I understand, unlike Adidas uniforms, which were sharp, the blue in the blue pants in these Nike uniforms doesn’t match the blue in the blue shirts, if that makes any sense. The colors are just a little bit off” (from Jeff Flynn). … Interesting look for Virginia Tech last night: orange jerseys with maroon helmets.