Archive for January 5th, 2011

Television Round-Up

American Experience/PBS Presents

Snooza in Fallujah: Ali and the Fight That Wasn’t

Belgian documentarist Theo VanLines has put together a fascinating look at the disaster that was supposed to be Muhammad Ali’s last hurrah, a title bout in the city of Fallujah (Iraq). By 1982 Ali, generally regarded as the greatest boxer of his generation was on the decline, he had lost his last bout to Trevor Berbick in 1981 and most boxing pundits thought he’d never box professionally again. In late 1982 Ali’s manager  got a strange call from Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, it seemed that the Iraqi strongman wanted some good publicity for his nation and offered what amounted to use of the entire city of Fallujah for a title bout. In a jailhouse interview shortly before his execution, Saddam described his motivation for the offer and the terse negotiations with fight promoter Don King. Ali for his part was keen on the fight. Having converted to the Nation of Islam in 1964, he was eager to fight in a nation that was predominantly Muslim. Larry Holmes who was heavyweight champion at the time was not initially interested in the fight, although he came around when the purse reportedly hit the ten million dollar mark. Don King had dubbed the fight The Attack in Iraq and the date was set for September 1st, 1983. Unfortunately the weather KO’d the fight, terrible sand storms destroyed the outdoor stadium not once but twice and the fight was postponed four different times. Wags soon referred to the bout as The Snooza in Fallujah and when Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984 it was all over. Besides in depth interviews with all the major participants, the documentary also has footage of Ali and Holmes training in Iraq as well as film of the stadium being literally blown away by sand storms.                                                     (Check local listings for time and date)