Sunday, July 26, 2015


By Mansor Puteh

‘I’ll be back!’ said General Macarthur when he led the American forces to leave the Philippines during the Second World War, or when it ended.

But many years later, it was not the American boxer who came to Manila, but a Filipino who went to Las Vegas to make tons of money, mostly American dollars into his kitty in a fight between a Black man and a Brown man, a former Malay, from what the Filipinos used to describe their as ‘the first Malay Republic’.

Of course the Filipinos were originally Malay or Melayu but before the Spanish came to force them to convert to Catholicism, and with that they had forfeited their right to call themselves Malays or Melayu which they themselves are not fond of saying or admitting now.

There are still some pockets of Malays in Manila and the southern islands in the Philippines.

For me boxing died the day Muhammad Ali retired from the ring, throwing his gloves into it and never to return again until Parkinson’s Disease finally knocked him out.

And to me heavyweight boxing worth watching but not the others for smaller and lighter persons who could never go up to that level. Nature did not allow them to do so.

So when I first heard about the Mayweather versus Pacquaiao fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 2 May, I could not care less.

Even if I were to be given a rightside seat, I would not accept it.

I also did not watch it live on television from where I am in Malaysia this morning and also the broadcast which is happening now, glancing at it briefly because I liked to flick the remote to watch a bit of all the interesting programs that are shown on Astro.

I preferred to watch the people sitting around the ring as they watched the two boxers pounding on each other. What must they be thinking, I wondered.

They who had spent to much money to get the ringside seat and they’d better try to enjoy the whole time the boxing was happening.

Not many of them looked like they are ardent supporters of the sports. They had the money to spend on the seat, no doubt.

There are not that many, so I end up watching the international news programs and magazine programs which the producers and television like to call ‘documentaries’, more than those that show films.

They are not documentaries, but magazine programs because they lack the qualities to be described as documentaries which normally do not have the third person narration from the beginning to the end, which I always find to be annoying.

If there are some of the programs which I thought were good I could listen to them without watching them.

Muhammad Ali came to Kuala Lumpur and stayed at the then Kuala Lumpur Hilton for a month to allow him to be fully acclimatized because it is very hot and humid in the city and throughout the country most of the time.

He arrived at Subang Airport and was greeted by scores of thousands, while his contender from Britain did not see as many coming to the same airport the next day to welcome him. Muhammad described Joe Bugner as the ‘The Great White Hope’.

It was probably Joe’s highest achievement being able to fight Muhammad, even in the non-title fight, and he disappeared afterward and was not heard of since.

Muhammad was reported to have received US$1.5 million for the fight which was a big sum then. It still could not be compared to what Mayweather and Pacquaio were said to receive for the fight today – US$120 million and US$80 million, respectively. .

And one day I went to the Hilton and wanted to go to the Paddock Restaurant which was on the topmost floor of the hotel, and found myself sitting in the same elevator with Muhammad Ali.

With him were his younger brother, Rahman Ali and his trainers, Angelo Dundee and Budini Brown.

I went there with Mustapha Maarof, a regular actor from the old studio system in Singapore who was then working with Gaya Filem where I was doing internship training for three months during the semester break, working on my degree in advertising at the school of mass communications of the Mara Institute of Technology in Shahalam, Selangor.

Muhammad Ali and the others in his generation including those who he had demolished such as George Forman, and some others who had caused him injury that finally caused him to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease which caused his once loud voice to be reduced to sotto voce so he is not able to say much without the help of the others who speak on his behalf.

And surprisingly the disease has not affected the other boxers who he had caused to be demolished. 

I passed through Las Vegas in April last year and sure enough saw the MGM Grand which was imposing.

There was no real excitement with the buildup to the fight and when it is happening, as the two welterweight boxers are small creatures who did not go beyond boxing with the promoter not having the same style or flamboyance as Don King had who promote most of Muhammad’s bouts.

The problem is that the two do not seem to be interested in the world affairs, so they ended up boxing and to try and make more money out of it until they are forced to retire due to old age. They are now in the late thirties and have a few years left to devote their lives to boxing.

Pacquiao paints an ugly sight with his unsightly tattoos. But who really got punched on the face? Those who had paid so much but who got so little in return other than the few hours they had to spend sitting and looking at two men punched each other.

What a thrill it was!?  

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