Little Bits of History

March 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 17, 2017

1337: Edward, the Black Prince, is made Duke of Cornwall. Edward was born in June 1330 at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire to King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. He was the first of nine children and the first to be made a Duke – in all of England. He was only two when he was made an Earl and nearly seven on this day when the first duchy was created for him. He became Prince of Wales shortly before turning 13. He served as symbolic regent three times while his father was away on campaigns. Edward married his cousin Jane when he was 31, which raised some eyebrows, not because they were cousins, but because Jane had been married secretly, then wed to another while her first husband was away at war. Her first husband returned, her second marriage was annulled, she had five children before becoming a widow, and then she married the future King of England.

Edward had four sons by various other women before he married Jane and the two had two more sons together. Their sons were born in France where Edward and Jane were the Prince and Princess of Aquitaine. While in Spain, fight to restore Don Pedro the Cruel to the Castilian throne, he contracted an illness which plagued him until his death ten years later. Since he predeceased his father, his son was next in line for the throne. His eldest son, Edward, had died at the age of five and Richard was next in line, a duty he assumed at the age of ten.

Today’s Duke of Cornwall is Prince Charles. The position is traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch. It is one of the two remaining duchies in England, the other being the Ducky of Lancaster. The Duke inherits possession of the duchy and the title of Duke of Cornwall at birth, or when his parent assumes the throne. He is not, however, permitted to sell assets for personal benefit and also has limited rights and income when still a minor. If the King/Queen of England has no male children, the rights and responsibilities return to The Crown and there would be no current Duke.

The Duchy lands cover 135,000 acres, mostly in Devon with other holdings in Cornwall, Herefordshire, Somerset, and the Isles of Scilly. There is an associated investment portfolio which was valued at £763 million in 2013 and showed an annual profit of £19 million. The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British monarch so today, belongs to Queen Elizabeth II. This is a smaller holding of about 45,550 acres and along with a portfolio is worth about £472 million. The annual income is £16 million. The Prince and the Queen voluntarily pay income tax on earning, minus expenses, from their holdings.

Something as curious as the monarchy won’t survive unless you take account of people’s attitudes. After all, if people don’t want it, they won’t have it.

Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?

Perhaps it has been too uncomfortable for those with vested interests to acknowledge, but we have spent the best part of the past century enthusiastically testing the world to utter destruction; not looking closely enough at the long-term impact our actions will have.

I sometimes wonder if two thirds of the globe is covered in red carpet. – all from Prince Charles

March 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 16, 2017

597 BC: Nebuchadnezzar captures Jerusalem. The Babylonian Chronicles are stone tablets recording major events in Babylonian history and were written from the reign of Nabonassar up to the Parthian Period (747 BC – 247 BC) or a period of about 500 years. Using these historical records, the date for the capture of Jerusalem was given as 2 Adar, making it March 16. Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor to Nabopolassar who was the ruler who managed to extricate Babylon from 300 years of servitude to Assyria. His armies along with those of the Medes, Persians, Scythians, and Cimmerians were able to overtake Nineveh. Nabopolassar wanted to control Aram, land belong to Necho II, under Assyrian rule. In 605 BC, he was able to defeat both the Egyptian and Assyrian armies and take control of all Babylon. He died in August and his son, Nebuchadnezzar, became ruler.

Nebuchadnezzar began to conquer lands westward and married the daughter of the Median king to assure peace on that front. He still waged wars/battles in order to bring more lands under his reign. He quashed rebellions and moved into the Levant. On this day he was finally able to take Jerusalem and deposed King Jehoiakim. Zedekiah was installed as the local ruler of Jerusalem shortly after the capture. This worked well for a time, but ten years later there was more rebellion in the region. Nebuchadnezzar returned and destroyed Jerusalem, taking many of the prominent Jews back to Babylon.

Babylon was a major city lying in the Fertile Crescent, the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It was first settled around 2300 BC and grew in importance with the First Amorite Babylonian Dynasty beginning in 1894 BC. It was one of the holy cities in the region and became even more powerful when Hammurabi created the first Babylonian Empire. For over a thousand years, it was of less importance until the Neo-Babylonian Empire (609-539 BC) when the Hanging Gardens of Babylon grew for Nebuchadnezzar to impress his Median Queen. Or maybe this wonder of the world was always a mythic idealization of eastern gardens.

Whether or not he built great gardens, Nebuchadnezzar did carry out many great building projects to bring back Babylon’s to previous days of glory. He restored old temples and built new one to the many gods of the Babylonian pantheon. He built an underground passage beneath the Euphrates to connect his palace on one side of the mighty river to the buildings on the other. He also bridged the river to create a walking path over it, also connecting the two parts of the city. He built a triple line of walls around Babylon to protect it from attack. All of these building projects took manpower, which was made up of the captured people from his many raids and wars.

While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. – Gregory Maguire

Our earliest evidence of government, in the ruins of Babylon and Egypt, shows nothing but ziggurats and pyramids of wasted taxpayer money, the TARP funds and shovel-ready stimulus programs of their day. – P. J. O’Rourke

What has history said of eminence without honor, wealth without wisdom, power and possessions without principle? The answer is reiterated in the overthrow of the mightiest empires of ancient times. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome! The four successive, universal powers of the past. What and where are they? – Orson F. Whitney

The collapse of the Tower of Babel is perhaps the central urban myth. It is certainly the most disquieting. In Babylon, the great city that fascinated and horrified the Biblical writers, people of different races and languages, drawn together in pursuit of wealth, tried for the first time to live together – and failed. – Neil MacGregor

March 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2017

1956: My Fair Lady premieres on Broadway. The musical was based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion. Book and lyrics for the production were by Alan Jay Lerner with music by Frederick Lowe. In the 1930s, Gabriel Pascal had acquired rights to make several of Shaw’s plays into movies. Shaw had a bad experience with one of the earlier attempts and refused to give permission to turn Pygmalion into a musical. After Shaw died in 1950, Pascal began work on turning Shaw’s play into the musical he had envisioned decades before. It had previously been attempted by well-known composer/lyricists and even Rogers and Hammerstein had failed in their attempts. It was deemed to be impossible and so Lerner and Lowe abandoned the projects. Pascal died without his musical.

Lerner read the obituary and began to wonder if they could pull it off and he and Lowe began working on the project again. The musical had its pre-Broadway run at New Haven’s Shubert Theatre and Rex Harrison, playing the lead role of Henry Higgins, was unused to having a live orchestra in the pit. He refused to go on. Everyone was sent home but Harrison finally relented. They were all called back and the first performance was a hit. They moved from there to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for four weeks. Finally, on this day, they opened on Broadway with Harrison still as Higgins and Julie Andrews playing Eliza Dolittle.

Opening night was at the Mark Hellinger Theater before it moved to Broadhurst Theatre and then The Broadway Theatre. It ran for 2,717 performances before closing on September 29, 1962. Eventually Edward Mulhare and Sally Ann Howes replaces Harrison and Andrews for the leads. The original cast recording became a best-selling album. The original costumes were created by Cecil Beaton and are part of a museum collection today. The stars left the Broadway production in order to open in London’s West End which opened on April 30, 1958 where it ran for 2,281 performances before closing in 1963.

There have been many more reprisals of the award-winning musical along with movie production of My Fair Lady which again had Rex Harrison playing Higgins, but Audrey Hepburn took over the Eliza role. Shaw wrote the original work based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor. He creates the most perfect statue of his ideal woman and because he loved the work so purely, Aphrodite granted his wish and the statue came to life and the two were married and lived happily ever after. In My Fair Lady, the ending is not so certain. Eliza returns to Henry, but the story is left with an ambiguous ending.

We will write the show without the rights, and when the time comes for them to decide who is to get them, we will be so far ahead of everyone else that they will be forced to give them to us. – Frederick Lowe, when the rights to Shaw’s work were in dispute

[He] announced that under no circumstances would he go on that night…with those thirty-two interlopers in the pit. – Alan Jay Lerner, referring to Harrison’s refusal to work with a live orchestra

The Lerner-Loewe songs are not only delightful, they advance the action as well. They are ever so much more than interpolations, or interruptions. – Robert Coleman

Eliza, where the devil are my slippers? – Henry Higgins (last line of the musical)

March 14

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 14, 2017

2015: Best Pi Day since the Julian calendar came into being. The first known celebration was in 1988 when Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, first brought pies in to celebrate the mathematical constant π. A mathematical constant is a “special” number and there are several of them with pi being one of the most common and the only one to have a day set aside to celebrate it. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is an irrational number and although 22/7 is often used mathematically, it is imprecise. 3.14 is also imprecise as the actual number goes on and on and on forever without repeating integers.

The word pi and the word pie are pronounced the same in English and pies have the added feature of usually being round. It was in this spirit that Shaw brought people together in order to march around in circles before eating fruit pies brought in for the event. The Exploratorium continues to have a Pi Day each year and the practice has spread. Some countries who do not use the mm/dd method of posting a date celebrate Pi Day on July 22 since their dd/mm method gives them 22/7 to play with.

Pi can be calculated out quite far using very sophisticated mathematical procedures. However, the number is often shortened to just the first two places after the decimal point or 3.14 making March 14 the day to celebrate. But the number is much, much longer. Another fun day was in 1592 because that was the first time since the introduction of the Julian calendar the number extended and 3.141592 was reached. But on this day, 3/14/15, at 9:26:53 the date was nine decimal places out or the first ten digits of pi. And it managed to do this twice, once in the morning and for those not using a 24 hours clock, again in the evening.

In 2009, HRES 224, a non-binding resolution from the US House of Representatives recognized March 14, 2009 as National Pi Day. In 2010, Google had a Doodle with circles and the pi symbol to celebrate. In 2014, the entire month was considered to be Pi Month since it was 3/14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has often mailed out their acceptance letters to arrive on Pi Day since they are a math and science based institution. Beginning in 2012, they began to post acceptances (privately) online at exactly 6.28 PM, which they have called Tau Time. Albert Eagle proposed, in 1958 that τ be used as a symbol for 1/2π because π resembles two τ symbols conjoined (ττ). And τ is tau.

Fischer, the great American chess champion, famously said, ‘Chess is life.’ I would say, ‘Pi is life.’ – Daniel Tammet

I recited Pi to 22,514 decimal points in five hours and nine minutes. I was able to do this because of weeks of study, aided by the unusual synaesthesic way my mind perceives numbers as complex multidimensional coloured and textured shapes. – Daniel Tammet

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. – Albert Einstein

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things. – Henri Poincare

March 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 13, 2017

1988: The Seikan Tunnel opens. The Tsugaru Strait lies between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan. Linking the two islands was considered during the Taisho period (1912-1925) but was not undertaken. Surveying began in earnest in 1946 after World War II ended and Japan lost territory overseas and had returning soldiers looking for work. In 1954, a typhoon sunk five ferries traveling in the Strait and killed 1,430 passengers. The next year, the Japanese National Railroad (JNR) increased pressure to build a tunnel connecting the two islands. Between 1955 and 1965, the ferries operated by JNR saw passenger rates double to over 4 million passengers a year and cargo levels rose to over 6 million tons. It was predicted that by 1971, the need for movement across the water would outstrip the docks’ ability to process passengers and cargo and there was no space to increase docks.

In September 1971, it was finally decided to build a tunnel. Construction on the 33.46 mile tunnel had 14.5 miles under the seabed. The track lies 330 feet beneath the sea and 790 feet below sea level. The now-dual gauge railway tunnel connects Aomori Prefecture on Honshu with the more northern island of Hokkaido. Both the standard gauge Hokkaido Shinakansen and the narrow gauge Kaikyo Line are able to traverse the tunnel. Construction efforts needed to overcome severe geological conditions and there were 34 workers killed during construction.

The estimated usage of the tunnel was exaggerated. The slowdown in the Japanese and world economies were at least in part to blame. Instead of traffic peaking in 1985, traffic peaked in 1978, ten years before the tunnel was able to be fully operational. The cost of construction was ¥538.4 billion ($3.6 billion in US currency). After the tunnel was completed, all rail traffic used the tunnel rather than ferries. However, passenger usage was less due to the cost and the availability of quicker air travel. There were overnight and luxury trains introduced, but they were not popular, still costing too much and taking too much time, especially after local air travel was deregulated.

There are two stations within the tunnel. They are to be used as emergency escape points in the event of a fire or other disaster. This is needed due to the length of the tunnel, the longest underwater tunnel in the world, with the caveat that the Chunnel has more tunnel underwater but the tunnel itself is shorter. The two station had, at one time, museums about the history of the tunnel which could be visited by special tours. These are no longer inexistence. The two stations remain the first of their kind, the first rail stations built underwater.

To survive, you’ve got to keep wheedling your way. You can’t just sit there and fight against odds when it’s not going to work. You have to turn a corner, dig a hole, go through a tunnel – and find a way to keep moving. – Twyla Tharp

The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train. – Robert Lowell

Struggling is hard because you never know what’s at the end of the tunnel. – Don Rickles

If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you are looking the wrong way. – Barry Commoner

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March 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 12, 2017

2009: Bernard Madoff pleads guilty. Madoff was born in Queens, New York in 1938. His father was a plumber and stockbroker. Bernie graduated from Hofstra University in 1960 with a degree in political science and briefly attended Brooklyn Law School before opening his own Wall Street firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. He was chairman of the company from its inception until his arrest on December 11, 2008. He began his firm as a penny stock trader with $5,000 (about $40,000 today), money he earned as a lifeguard and sprinkler installer. He got a loan of $50,000 from his father-in-law and the business began. They developed a system of information capturing that, after a trial run, was used to develop the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations).

The business was a market maker (quoted bids and asking prices) and functioned as a third-market provider, directly executing orders from retail brokers without the input of exchange specialist firms. At one time, Madoff Securities was the largest market maker at the NASDAQ and by 2008 was the sixth-largest one on Wall Street. There was another division, investment management and advisory division, which did not publicize and was the origin of the fraud investigation. Between 1991 and 2008, Madoff and his wife contributed about $240,000 to various political candidates including a $25,000 per year donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (some of this money has since been returned to the bankruptcy trustee). Members of his family also served as leaders of SIFMA, a securities industry organization.

Madoff first came under scrutiny in a fraud investigation in 1992 but he returned all monies and closed the case. In 2004, the SEC’s office for compliance investigations found several inconsistencies and asked for further questioning. The lawyer in charge was told to ignore problems by Eric Swanson who eventually married Madoff’s niece. All this time, Madoff’s wealth management business was reporting much higher than usual earnings. No major Wall Street firms invested with him because his numbers were unbelievable. By December 2008, his self-admitted Ponzi scheme came crashing down. He was unable to pay clients and he was arrested for securities fraud.

Madoff was able to post the $10 million bond and was living his is Upper East Side penthouse apartment under 24-hour monitoring. On this day Judge Denny Chin revoked his bail and sent him to jail citing Madoff’s flight risk status. Incarcerated, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies: securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements, perjury, theft from employee benefit plans, and false filing with the SEC. He had defrauded clients of $65 billion, the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He was sentences to 150 years in prison and forfeiture of all assets.

Fuck my victims. I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.

It was a nightmare for me. I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago.

What do I do with my life now?

I was astonished. They never even looked at my stock records. If investigators had checked with The Depository Trust Company, a central securities depository, it would’ve been easy for them to see. If you’re looking at a Ponzi scheme, it’s the first thing you do. – all from Bernie Madoff

March 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 11, 2017

1818: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is first published. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born in 1797 to a political philosopher and women’s rights activist. Her mother died less than a month after her birth and her father gave her a comprehensive although informal education. She married one of her father’s followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 and during the summer spent time in Geneva, Switzerland with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Mary’s stepsister Clair Clairmont. It was there Mary began to get her idea for her most famous work. The couple had four children, three of them dying in infancy before their son was born, their only surviving child. Shelley drowned in a boating accident in 1822.

On this day, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones published Frankenstein anonymously. A preface was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley and a dedication was made to William Godwin. Only 500 copies of the “triple-decker” work were issued. As a standard practice of the time, the book was broken up into three volumes. A new publisher put out a second printing, this time in just two volumes, after a successful play had been presented, Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein. A third edition, in one volume, came out in October 1831. It was heavily revised by Mary to tone it down a bit and contained a larger preface, written by her. While the first popular version is this latter one, many scholars prefer the original work when choosing a version.

In the book, Frankenstein creates a being and his rejection of this entity begins with his refusing to name it. He calls it, instead, all sorts of vile names like: wretch, monster, creature, demon, devil, fiend, and simply it. The book has been adapted to plays and movies over the ensuing years and it is only in these later versions of the story where the creature is described as whole body parts cobbled together and animated by lightning. This idea was first popularized in a 1931 film version of the tale produced by James Whale. Earlier versions have Dr. Frankenstein discovering the elemental principle of life and animating his creature with whatever it was he had discovered.

One of the most popular misconceptions surrounding the tale is the name of the monster. Frankenstein is the man who created the unnamed beast, not the name of the beast itself. The subtitle is often ignored today. The mythological reference to Prometheus, the Titan who created mankind at Zeus’s request, is left out, but is the point of the story. The fight between Prometheus who wanted the best for his creatures and Zeus who wanted to remain in control ends badly for Prometheus who was tied to rock and had his liver eaten out by eagles every day, only to regenerate during the night because of his god status. He was eventually rescued by Hercules. The story of Frankenstein has a moral tale to tell.

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.

Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.

Elegance is inferior to virtue.

What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow. – all from Mary Shelley

March 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 10, 2017

1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is ratified by the US Senate. The Mexican-American War was fought between April 25, 1846 and February 3, 1848. America annexed Texas in 1845, a land still considered by Mexico to be Mexican even though the 1836 Texas Revolution ended with Texas being separated from Mexico and becoming the Republic of Texas. In 1844, newly elected US President James Polk offered to buy disputed lands from Mexico but his offer was rejected. US troops were placed in the disputed area and were attacked by Mexican troops. Eventually a full scale war, rather than independent raids, found America and the California Republic faced off against an unstable Mexican government.

When Mexico found itself with a beaten army and their capital city fallen into enemy hands, they began to negotiate for an end to the war. The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848 in the Villa De Guadalupe Hidalgo, now a neighborhood in Mexico City. The US was to pay Mexico $15 million and also to pay claims of American citizens who had filed against Mexico, which was another $3.25 million. The US was to gain territory above the Rio Grande which would serve as a border for Texas. The US was given ownership of California and territory covering about half of New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. The Mexicans living in those regions were given the option of becoming American citizens with full civil rights, or returning to Mexico. About 90% chose to stay.

Because previous negotiations with General Jose Joaquin de Herrera had been futile, Nicholas Trist of the US state Department and General Winfield Scott met with a commission from the collapsed government led by Don Jose Bernardo Couto, Don Miguel de Atristain, and Don Luis Gonzaga Cuevas. Rather than listing the lands to be ceded, the treaty stipulated the new border between the US and Mexico. All territory north of the newly delineated boundary would belong to the United States. The monies to be paid to Mexico and to pay off claims amounted to about $500 million in today’s dollars and the portion to be paid to Mexico was divided over five years with $3 million paid each year.

The Treaty was brought to Washington for approval and some adjustments were made and some others, while attempted to be added, were defeated in Congress. The proviso to ban slavery in the new territories failed to pass 15-38. After much work, the treaty was ratified on this day by a vote of 38-14 and ratified by Mexico through a legislative vote and a Senate vote on May 19. The treaty was formally proclaimed on July 4, 1848.

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans, or the family. It’s just starting. – Karl Marlantes

No treaty is ever an impediment to a cheat. – Sophocles

In case of war, a treaty would have to be made at the end of the war. – Townsend Harris

America will honor our treaty obligations. – John R. Allen

March 9

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 9, 2017

1977: The Hanafi siege begins. Hamaas Abdul Khaalis (born Ernest McGhee in Indiana in 1921) was discharged from the US Army on the grounds of mental illness. He went on to work as a jazz drummer in New York City and then converted to Islam and changed his name. He worked diligently for the Nation of Islam, helping with ministry and schools during the early 1950s. He split with them in 1958 and founded the Hanafi Movement. In 1968 he was arrested for attempted extortion but was released, again for mental illness. In 1972, Khaalis published an open letter attacking the Nation of Islam and its leadership. In 1973, five men broke into his house and killed five of his children, his nine-day-old grandson, and another man. The assailants were all arrested, convicted and sentences to life in prison.

On this day, seven of his followers broke into the B’nai B’rith headquarters in Washington, D.C. where they took over 100 hostages. Three more men took 11 hostages at the Islamic Center of Washington less than an hour later. At 2.20 PM, two more Hanafis entered the District Building where city hall was located on the fifth floor. As they were waiting to enter an elevator, the car arrived and opened with Maurice Williams exiting. The Hanafi gunman thought they were being attacked and killed him. Also in the car was Mark Cantrell who survived the incident but died days later. Marion Barry, then councilman and future mayor was injured but recovered. Two others were also injured.

Khaalis demanded the men who killed his family be released to him, probably for execution. He also wanted a $750 fine erased. He asked to meet with Warith Deen Mohammed and Muhammad Ali, neither of them showing up. Khaalis was outraged by the recently released film Mohammad, Messenger of God and demanded it be banned. He was under the incorrect assumption that the Prophet appeared in the film, which is considered sacrilegious.

Three Muslim ambassadors, Egypt’s Ashraf Ghorbal, Pakistan’s Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan and Iran’s Ardeshir Zahedi worked closely with the US law enforcement teams to talk with Khaalis and eventually were able to persuade him to give himself up without harming any more of the hostages. It took 39 hours before the standoff was resolved. All three sites were surrendered and Khaalis and all the Hanafi followers were taken into custody. All were tried and found guilty with Khaalis receiving a 21 to 120 year sentence. He died in prison in 2003.

[The ambassadors] read to the gunmen passages from the Quran that they said demonstrated Islam’s compassion and mercy. They urged the gunmen to surrender. These ambassadors relied on their religious faith for compassion and tolerance. – Daniel S. Mariaschin

[They] wanted the government to hand over a group of men who had been convicted of killing seven relatives – mostly children – of takeover leader Hamaas Khaalis. They also demanded that the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God be destroyed because they considered it sacrilegious. – Theresa Vargas

That the toll was not higher was in part a tribute to the primary tactic U.S. law enforcement officials are now using to thwart terrorists—patience. But most of all, perhaps, it was due to the courageous intervention of three Muslim ambassadors, Egypt’s Ashraf Ghorbal, Pakistan’s Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan and Iran’s Ardeshir Zahedi. – Time magazine

The Jews control the courts and the press. – Hamaas Khaalis (referring to the Jewish judge who sat on his family’s murder trial)

March 8

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 8, 2017

1971: Smokin’ Joe meets The Greatest at Madison Square Garden. Billed at the Fight of the Century, Joe Frazier (26-0 with 23 KOs) and Muhammad Ali (31-0 with 25 KOs) battled for the title of Heavyweight Champion. It was the first time two undefeated boxers fought for the heavyweight title. Frazier was born in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1944, making him 27 at the time of the fight. Ali, born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, was 29 at the time of the fight.

Both men had legitimate claims to the title prior to the fight. Ali had won the title from Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964 and successfully defended it until he was stripped of the honor by the boxing authorities after refusing to enter the US armed forces in 1967. While Ali was absent from the boxing scene, Frazier won two championships, both by knock outs. He first beat Buster Mathis and then Jimmy Ellis. Frazier was recognized at the world champion by boxing authorities of the time.

The hype before the match was intense as Frazier was seen as possibly better than The Greatest. Ringside tickets were sold for $150 (or about $800 today) and each contestant was guaranteed $2.5 million for the fight. The stadium held 20,455 fans for a gate of $1.5 million and millions more watched on closed-circuit TV around the world. Ali was known for his speed and dexterity and would often predict in which round he would knock his opponent out. Prior to his fight on this night, he had been struggling. Frazier had a wicked left hook and was known for not quitting. Even though he was dealing with high blood pressure before the match, he was seen as being in peak condition.

Frazier, 5’ 11.5” and 205 pounds, met Ali, 6’ 3” and 215 pounds, before a star-studded crowd. Tickets were so difficult to get, Frank Sinatra worked as a photographer for Life magazine and Burt Lancaster was an announcer for the closed-circuit fans. The fight itself exceeded all expectations and went the full 15 rounds for a championship fight. Ali led for the first 3 rounds and then Frazier landed a left hook which snapped Ali’s head backwards. In the last round, Frazier landed yet another hook shot which put Ali on his back. Ali managed to get up and stay on his feet for the rest of the round. Frazier won with a unanimous decision and Ali had his first professional loss. Over his lifetime, Frazer had 37 fights, won 32 (27 by KO), 4 losses, and 1 draw. Ali managed 61 fights, won 56 (37 by KO) and 5 losses.

Since I was a boy of five or six, I had it in my mind I would be a world boxing champion. – Joe Frazier

Ali even told me in the ring, ‘You can’t beat me – I’m your Lord.’ I just told him, ‘Lord, you’re in the wrong place tonight.’ – Joe Frazier

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ – Muhammad Ali