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 Posted: Fri Jun 29th, 2018 04:38 pm
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Arnold_OldSchool

 

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Just finished reading "Drama in the Bahamas" about Ali's last fight against Trevor Berbick.
  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25986749-drama-in-the-bahamas 
I expected it to be mostly about a physically compromised Ali being battered in a bout he had no business taking part in. However, the book revealed in great detail the background of the debacle that was the promotion putting on the event, and made for an incredibly entertaining read.  
A few spoilers to perhaps entice you to give it a read:
* The promoter (Don Cornelius) was literally a novice at putting on such events. He was actually under scrutiny by the FBI and was living under an assumed name prior to coming up with this fight plan.
 * The "stadium" was a run down baseball field that had been renovated from a WW2 airplane strip. It had no bleachers, so folding chairs were loaned from schools across the island. 
* None of the networks wanted to buy the rights to Ali being pummeled, so the promotion was forced to seek a CCTV/PPV type of deal. The island had no technology ready to use, so most everything had to be shipped in from Florida.  A barge with satellite tech ended up sinking, marking another crazy happening in this cursed event. 
* Ali was physically not up to properly training. He had the press with him for one "3 mile" jog. He made it a mile before he stopped to shadow box and goof around. He then walked a bit, before having his limo come pick him up. 
* Don King saw the mess the promoter was in weeks before the fights. He tried to go through Ali to buyout the show, and eventually came to the island to talk with Cornelius directly.  Cornelius ended up having King beaten up and chased off the island.
 * The island had no proper phone lines for the press to use, and the lines were still being installed as the fights were about to begin. 
* Two of the men in charge of setting up the stadium were working in the makeshift "booth" being designed for the Bahama's prime minister. The police did not like how much time the men were spending and had them arrested on suspicion of plotting an assassination. 
* The Stadium had 2 small locker rooms. Ali got crammed in one with his people and most of the other fighters were all smashed together the other. This caused some serious tension as men who were about to fight had to prep only feet away from one another. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns and Berbick were given RVs that had been "rented" from vacationing families to use as locker rooms. They had to order a porta-potty to be placed in between them
* On fight night, Cornelius realized their satellite time was going to be too tight and abruptly canceled 4 of the nine fights. He then went to Scott LeDoux and his opponent and asked them to fight in a 8 round fight instead of 12. The men had to refuse because a title was on the line and it would not count if it wasn't a regulation 12 rounds.  Ernie Shavers and his opponent made it to the ring when they were told their fight was now canceled. The men said screw it and ignored the orders and went ahead with the fight. 
*A Bahama dance crew had been hired to perform before the Ali main event. The promoter canceled them to as they got in the ring. The girls refused to leave, and cops had to come in and haul them off.
 * Cornelius did not know he was in charge of getting gloves, so the day of the fights he asked the men to use their own sparring gloves instead. Ali and others refused and Ali had one of his entourage have some shipped in at the final second.  Cornelius also had no ring bell, so 2 of his underlings were tasked with chasing down a cow in a nearby field and stealing it's cowbell. 
* LeDoux only got 10 grand of his promised 40 grand purse. Shavers was majorly shorted too, so he locked the door with Cornelius in the room with him and threatened the promoter until a check was written.  

Memories? 

Last edited on Fri Jun 29th, 2018 04:41 pm by Arnold_OldSchool

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 Posted: Sat Jun 30th, 2018 08:28 pm
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srossi
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Sounds interesting. I’ll check this out



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 Posted: Sat Jun 30th, 2018 11:46 pm
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Papa Voo



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Sounds like a good read. I remember that event and era.

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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2018 04:24 pm
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khawk
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I remember listening to that fight on the radio.



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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2018 09:29 pm
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WongLee
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Was that THE Don Cornelius from Soul Train? If I was locked in a room with Earnie Shavers I would hand over a blank check and a pen immediately.

It was actually a relatively decent card on paper. Eddie Mustafa Muhammed fought. Tommy Hearns against a decent middleweight in Ernie Singletary. Ali/Berbick wasn't even the main event. That dubious distinction went to Greg Page, who was undefeated at the time, against Verne Gagne's favorite boxer Scott LeDoux.



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 Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2018 04:54 am
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tamalie
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It wasn't Don Cornelius. It was a different guy named James Cornelius who at one time, and perhaps still then, was in the Nation of Islam and had some ties to Muhammad Ali.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2018 03:03 pm
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krazykid18

 

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tamalie wrote: It wasn't Don Cornelius. It was a different guy named James Cornelius who at one time, and perhaps still then, was in the Nation of Islam and had some ties to Muhammad Ali.
Yeah i read that first line and was confused how could the master of Soul Train be living under a different name

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