Saturday, June 04, 2016

Saturday 4th June 2016...death of a legend!!!!

I think everyone knows that he passed away and i actually went to this event listed below!!!

Ali vs. Semenko - It Really Happened

Legend. Superstar. Great. Hero.

These are all words that are used far too frequently in the sporting world. These words should be reserved for the absolute best of the best, for athletes like Pele, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Jesse Owens, Paavo Nurmi, Tiger Woods, Jim Brown, Jim Thorpe, Willie Mays, and in hockey Wayne GretzkyRocket Richard,Gordie HoweBobby OrrMario LemieuxBobby Hull and maybe a couple of more.

But if there is one athlete above all others who deserves any such title. It isMuhammed Ali. I don't think the heavyweight champ needs any introduction. He was the greatest, he even said so himself. He is a worldwide phenomenon, as good a showman as he is an athlete. He was probably the most influential athlete ever, leaving a legacy far more important than that just of a boxer. Had Parkinson's disease not crippled Ali, I'm certain he would have brought about more change in the world.

Hockey fans like fights, for the most part. There's been a few on-ice heavyweight champions over the years - Gordie HoweJohn FergusonHammer SchultzBob Probert and nowadays Derek Boogaard.

In the early 1980s the unofficial championship belt arguably belonged to Dave Semenko. The tough guy known as "Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard" was as big and strong and as feared as anyone on the rink.

So have you ever wondered what would happen if hockey's heavyweight champ got into a fight with boxing's heavyweight champ? Well that's exactly what happened on June 12th, 1983.

Some of the details about this three round exhibition are pretty sketchy. It turns out Mark Messier's uncle Larry was behind it all. He was always trying to promote something, and his idea of Hollywood celebrities playing the Oilers in a floor hockey match turned into a heavyweight battle between Semenko and Ali, who at 41 was just 5 years removed from his last title reign.

I turned to Semenko's excellent autobiography "Looking Out For Number One" and unearthed some more details, but I never did find out who won the fight. I've seen some online comments suggesting Semenko "acquitted himself nicely."

Semenko apparently trained quite hard for the event, training under Rocky Addison, a former Manitoba middleweight champion. They watched video of Ali's fights looking for tendencies, and hit the gym for many hours. They held a one week training camp at the worst possible time for Semenko.

"They'd only just introduced Happy Hours in the lounges in Edmonton and the first think Rocky did was put me on the wagon. "Two for one sodas are not my idea of a Happy Hour on a hot June afternoon."

Semenko comments on how he really had no idea what to expect in the ring, other than he didn't want this to turn into some comedic sketch. About the only information he had was when Ali sent one scout to watch Semenko work out, but he apparently he was there more to deliver a message: "Make sure you don't do something stupid like try to take the champ's head off." Ali's people didn't want any funny business, but maybe they were more worried about what Ali would do to Semenko once he got up.

Before the match Ali met up with Semenko to greet him personally.

"When I was first taken over to his house to have a meeting about the fight, Ali came walking into the room, put his hands up and said, 'Okay, show me something.' I threw a few combinations and Ali said 'Don't worry, kid, we'll make it look good.' Then he left to take a nap!"

Ali later promoted the exhibition match in typical Ali style.

"Ali comes to meet Semenko
But Semenko's starting to retreat
If Semenko goes back an inch further,
He'll end up in a ringside seat."

"Sammy" was relieved when the whole show was over with. In the autobiography he revealed a funny story not many people knew about at the time.

"I didn't know what I was supposed to wear and didn't have a boxing wardrobe kicking around the house. I didn't have boots like Ali, so I got a pair of old black high-top runners. He had his zippered sweat suit to wear into the ring. I wore a crimson-and-silver terry-towel bathrobe. We hadn't even thought about it, but I'd been wearing the robe when they laced the gloves on me. So there we were, standing in our corner with the opening bell about to ring and I couldn't get the damned bathrobe off over those great big sixteen ounce boxing gloves. So Rocky stood real close to me, trying to block out everybody's view, while he hacked the sleeves off my bathrobe with a pair of scissors."

Like I said, the match itself is pretty sketchy. I believe the match officially ended in a draw, with no knockouts and no winner declared at the end. Ali apparently did his famous Ali Shuffle among other showboating in the ring, all to please the fans. And Semenko let him do it.

I also found this program (pictured to the right) of the event. The original purchase price was just $2, but with the signatures of Ali, Semenko, and several playboy playmates as well as increasing scarcity over time, the program is now for sale at this memorabilia house for $1500!

By the way, 5 years earlier Ali boxed an exhibition match against NFL star (and later acting star) Lyle Alzado. Unlike Semenko, Alzado was trained as an amateur boxer.

I was up and out of the house by 8.30 am this morning it was not so cold but still cloudy and I started my morning with a 6 km hike here

Looking back down over the ferry terminal
and the different views of the cliffs...

Really wonderful formations and views!!
As I was leaning over the edge on the photo before heard these guys down below!!!!
Not sure what these are called but I liked them!!
After the walk I sat in the car and had some strawberries and yogurt and then on the road again I am slowly heading west along the south coast of England....
The area is steeped in British history here is a short synopsis...

I found my way to the town of Hastings and my air bnb stay for the night in a family home which is really nice I have the use of the kitchen and my hostess made me tea...
My room...

This evening I will make some plans and bookings for the next few days I do have some friends that I am going to see...One a young lady I met at an airbnb in New Zealand we will have dinner together.....and then friends I first met in SMA and two years ago after I finished the Camino in Spain....
Have a great weekend ..
Yashi Kochi!!!!

1 comment:

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