FW: Fifth Column (re Ali and rap)

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Oct 30 12:10:27 UTC 2002

Herb S said, re "thrilla in Manila" (Cosell pronunciation) :

Rather than doggerel, this sounds much more like rap, a form Ali was skilled

I humbly beg to differ.  Ali was noted -- from the early 60s, when he
debuted on the scene -- as a composer of doggerel.  This is WAY before rap.
There are many examples from his "oeuvre", dating back to the heavy media
coverage of his first fight with Sonny Liston, 1964, when he first won the
heavyweight crown.  I believe that his famous "Float like a butterfly, sting
like a bee" dates back to the first Liston fight.

[IMHO aside (ahem): I remember all this vividly and personally, as I am a
huge fan of Ali, as an athlete and a person.  He IS the greatest athlete of
all time, bar none, hands down, story over.  Ali is also one of the most
significant figures in the American history of the latter half of the 20th
cent.  Another near the top of MY list for that period is Nixon, but unlike
Nixon, Ali was on the good side of "significant".  As with baseball, if one
does not study and understand the phenomena surrounding Ali and Nixon, one
does not know what present-day America is about.]

Anyway, Ali's doggerel pre-dates rap by quite a few years.  In fact, I do
not recall hearing at any time that Ali was ever associated with rap.  By
the time rap made it onto the American scene (early 80s or so), Ali was
actually already losing his ability to speak.

Ali may have been a **model** for rappers, but he was not one himself, at
least not in the usual sense.  He was sort of a precursor of rap.

Frank Abate

> > Does anyone know whether "thriller in Manila" was coined by Ali himself
> > was a slogan cooked up by promoters?
> >
> > Fred Shapiro
> >
> As written up in F. Dennis & D Atyeo _Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years_
> p. 242, the line seems to have come from Ali's pre-fight doggerel, first
> delivered at a press conference in Malaysia:
> It will be a killer
> And a chiller
> And a thrilla
> When I get the gorilla
> In Manila.
> That the fight poster featured "A Thrilla in Manila" (quotes as printed on
> the poster) may be taken to back this up.
> Jonathon Green

More information about the Ads-l mailing list