Memories of the “Fight of the Century” still echo a half a century later in Canastota where the world’s most famous ring is on permanent display
CANASTOTA, NY – MARCH 1, 2021 – The International Boxing Hall of Fame joins the sports world in recognizing the upcoming historic 50th anniversary of the legendary bout between Hall of Fame heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and “Smokin’” Joe Frazier by spotlighting the world-famous Madison Square Garden boxing ring where the battle took place that is on permanent display in Canastota. The landmark anniversary will be a day to reflect on the bout known around the world as the “Fight of the Century” and celebrate the importance of the iconic March 8, 1971 match-up.
Boxing’s most important artifact, the world-famous MSG ring is on permanent display at the Hall of Fame.
The contest between two undefeated heavyweight champions captured the imagination of sports fans around the world. The storylines were endless. Who would suffer their first loss? Could Ali regain the title after a 3 ½ year layoff and only two fights since returning to the ring? Could the tirelessly aggressive Frazier hold on to his title behind the strength of his tremendous left hook? Adding to the drama was the setting of the match, “The Mecca of Boxing,” Madison Square Garden. Frank Sinatra was ringside as photographer for LIFE and celebrities Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Hugh Hefner and Bob Dylan were among the thousands in the sellout crowd. Hall of Famers Don Dunphy and Archie Moore, along with Hollywood legend Burt Lancaster, called the action for fans watching on closed circuit in all 50 states. In total, the fight was transmitted to 50 countries in 12 languages and an estimated worldwide audience of 300 million.
With Hall of Fame referee Arthur Mercante as third man in the ring, the two champions authored one of the greatest fights in boxing history. “Smokin’” Joe dropped Ali with a vicious left hook in the 15th round and was awarded a unanimous decision after an incredible battle to retain the world heavyweight championship and become the first man to defeat Ali.
“Ali-Frazier remains the most talked about boxing match ever and one of the most popular sporting events of all time,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “The significance of the bout cannot be overstated and it remains the fight that all other fights are measured against.”
The Hall looks forward to boxing fans enjoying memorabilia from the “Fight of the Century” throughout this year in celebration of the 50th anniversary. In addition to seeing the MSG ring, items on display include an official fight ticket, program, press kit, poster and an Ali and Frazier exhibit featuring their fist impressions. Both champions are also featured on the Hall of Fame Wall.
The Hall of Fame chronicles the history of the sport with unique and educational exhibits including fist castings, boxing robes, boxing shoes, statues and audio/visual stations highlighting classic boxing matches. The Hall of Fame Wall features photographs and biographies of all inductees.
A not-for-profit organization, the International Boxing Hall of Fame opened to the public in 1989 in Canastota, New York and is located at Exit 34 of the New York State Thruway. Hours of operation are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Sunday.
For more information please call the Hall of Fame at (315) 697-7095, visit online at www.ibhof.com, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .