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Sports of the 20th Century: Ali-Frazier 1: One Nation…Divisible

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The newest edition to HBO’s Peabody Award winning Sports of the 20th Century documentary series, Ali-Frazier 1: One Nation…Divisible chronicled the events that produced one of the greatest spectacles in the history of sports—Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden—that became widely known as The Fight of the Century. As keenly illustrated in this dramatic documentary, the conflict in the ring stood for far more than a heavyweight bout. With an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide, it depicted the polarized moral battles of those turbulent times. The match-up of Ali—a symbol of the civil rights struggle and anti-Vietnam movement—and Frazier—unfairly viewed as representing the pro-war, conservative right—defined the cultural divide of the United States in the 1960s and early 70s. Ali’s showboating and goading of the quiet, almost self-conscious Frazier caused a rift between them that lasted 30 years. Executive producer Ross Greenburg, co-producers Joseph M. Lavine and Jonathan Crystal, and writer Dave Anderson brought to life the differences between the two undefeated champions that reverberated through the divided nation. Revealing interviews included heavyweight legends George Foreman and Joe Frazier, broadcaster Bryant Gumbel, legendary trainers Eddie Futch and Angelo Dundee, promoter Butch Lewis, journalist Stanley Crouch, and such unlikely subjects as singer James Taylor and fashion critic Mr. Blackwell. For this sharp, fast-paced, fascinating program that had wide appeal even to non-boxing fans and put the “Fight of the Century” into a cogent historical context, a Peabody Award goes to Ali-Frazier 1: One Nation…Divisible.