“Down goes Frazier” is one the most famous sports calls of all time. It transcends the sport and we use it beyond boxing in daily parlance, like when a buddy trips and falls… at least I do. Try it next time you see someone take a stumble. And for fun, you might want to impart some Cosell nasality to the call. It generally gets a giggle and makes an instant sports connection.
Most hear Cosell’s “Down goes Frazier!” and incorrectly assume Ali delivered the knockout. It was actually George Foreman who knocked out Frazier to take the belt that evening in Jamaica. It’s an honest mistake, and now you can call your friends out when they make it.
Remember that way back in the day, boxing was one of the big three sports (with horse racing and baseball). It was the sweet science. While times had clearly changed in the 1970’s, boxing still made a huge imprint on the sports landscape. The heavyweight champ was arguably the most recognized athlete on the planet. The Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976 was about boxing (Yo, Adrian!!). Ali, Foreman, and Frazier were not heavyweight champions of the United States. They were heavyweight champions of the whole world. Fights weren’t in Vegas. Battles for the heavyweight championship of the world were, well, fought all over the world. Bouts were in Jamaica, the Philippines, and Zaire (where Foreman and Ali actually fought at 4 in the morning!). They had catchy titles like the Thrilla in Manilla or the Rumble in the Jungle. Cosell, the most recognized voice at the time, usually gave us the call.
These pugilists dominated the boxing and sports landscape during the 1970’s. They were household names for the average sports fan. They would fight each other multiple times. Can the average sports fan recognize these names: Tate, Weaver, Doakes, Thomas, Page, Witherspoon, Tubbs, and Tucker? These fighters owned pieces of the heavyweight title in the 1980’s until Tyson unified the division in 1987.
Who is the current heavyweight champion? Actually, a better question might be who are the current heavyweight champions with all the different boxing organizations. It is somewhat disheartening that we have to talk about unified belts, and only certain fighters are “undisputed champions of the world.”
I know, I know, there is much more to boxing than 1970’s heavyweights. While other fighters may weigh less, these lighter combatants may be pound for pound just as tough as their heavier contemporaries. You can dispute the popularity of boxing in today’s sporting world. You can dispute who is pound for pound the best fighter. However, it is undisputed that the drama of the heavyweight championship bouts in the seventies captivated sports fans around the globe.