Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Filipinos see Muhammad Ali as more than just a boxing champion – he is an idol, a motivator and a cultural icon.
Ali, was one of the greatest sports icons of the 20th century, and he had a huge impact on Filipino society, inside and outside of sports.
Former World Boxing Federation welterweight champion Rey Pelonia said Muhammad Ali had inspired him to give the sport his best.
“Naging inspirasyon din siya sa ibang mga boksingero“said Pelonia.”Malungkot kasi nawalan with naman tayo ng un kilalang boksingero. “
[Translation: He was an inspiration to many boxers. I’m sad because another known boxer left us.]
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Sports analyst and commentator Quinito Henson said in an interview that Ali put the Philippines on the global sports map.
“The ‘Thrilla in Manila’ had an impact on Filipino society as a whole – not just in boxing. I think it opened the eyes of the world to the Philippines too[s] being a tourist destination, ”Henson said. “For this we must be very grateful to Muhammad Ali.”
Henson said that after Ali’s historic “Thrilla in Manila” fight against Joe Frazier in 1975, the Philippines witnessed a wave of local Filipino boxing champions like Rolando Navarrete, Tasi Makalos, Doddy Boy Peñalosa.
“I really think during the 1970s there were a lot of Filipino champions that came out, until the 80s, until the 90s. Rolando Navarrete, Tasi Makalos, Doddy Boy Peñalosa, all these fighters are out of the woods – and I felt they owed Muhammad Ali a lot.
According to Henson, Ali not only stoked the Filipino love for boxing, but also transformed the sport itself, the way it is played and the way boxers fight.
Henson said Ali introduced new things to the sport, using foot movement and hand speed, things nobody talked about until Ali’s time.
According to Henson, Ali had three basic movements: the “Ali shuffle”, the “Russian tank” and the “Rope a dope”, which he used against George Foreman in their fight in the Congo – and was the same champion of tactical boxing. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao used to beat Miguel Cotto in their fight in 2009.
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“This reshuffle of Ali allowed him to throw a surprise attack on his opponent on the wrong foot. He had the ‘Rope a Dope’… and I thought it opened the eyes of a lot of boxers to use this tactic as well. .
“And Ali’s last signature move is called the ‘Russian tank’, that’s when he came towards his opponent with his elbows raised to protect his face, but as he got closer, parrying a lot of blows. from his opponent, he will reduce the distance between himself and his opponent – and using this Russian tank tactic, all of a sudden, he will explode with combinations and jabs, ”added Henson.
Ali’s personality in and out of the ring has inspired many athletes to be so motivated and dedicated in their profession.
Despite Muhammad Ali’s passing, one thing is certain: his legacy, The Thrilla in Manila, lives on.
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