Thursday, July 5, 2012
On October 1, 1975, most of the world found a way to watch or read about what is probably the greatest boxing match of the 20th century between Muhammad Ali and Smokin Joe Frazier. Dubbed the “Thrilla in Manila” by Ali, the event brought him and Frazier together for a third match tie-breaker to determine the heavyweight champion of the world. A movie script couldn’t have been written more perfectly. Ali, the loud-mouth, draft dodger who regularly displayed tasteless behavior, and Frazier, the patriotic nice guy who lets his work speak for itself. The bout was held in the Philippines where the communistic government of this impoverished country paid to play host in an attempt to put on a nice face in front of the world. The arena was over-crowded, the temperature was high, and the fight was epic. The men met in the middle and pounded the life out of each other for 14 rounds until Frazier’s manager threw in the towel at the 15th round bell. It’s rumored that Ali asked for his gloves to be clipped when the bell rang, a signal that he was surrendering. However, when the towel flew before he was snipped, the victory was his. Frazier’s eyes nearly swollen shut from the beating, and mouthy Ali unable to find words to speak, the pursuit to claim victory was costly for each and the margin was slim leaving each gladiator without much life in them. Sports historians consider that fight to be the beginning of the end for Ali. He wasn't the same fighter in the ring after his victory. He is quoted a couple of times as saying that the fight was a near death experience, or that it was death. Even though he won the fight, he suffered greatly from the beating along the way. Eli has had a busy day today, but it has gone smoothly. I don’t have any real details about the CAT scan from Vic so I’m figuring that is good news. I know Eli’s appetite has been better and he hasn’t required as much nausea meds, so those might be signs that the hemorrhaging in his brain has improved. But, I can’t say for sure until I ask for specifics from Vic. Eli has also been suffering from some voice weakness and tremors, so he is seeing a speech therapist. His ANC is at 200, so it is at least heading in the right direction and will hopefully be just right for when we go back to Memphis. The sad news of the day is that Eli has suffered significant hearing loss in both ears after this second round of chemo. The loss to this point is only of high frequencies. With two rounds yet to go, more loss is expected and he will require hearing aids. We knew the potential of this, still the realization of it as it has happened is a tough take. The kids and I were outside today with the waterslide and they were playing games with each other, running around the yard, jumping on the trampoline, drawing on the driveway, riding the go-kart and I sat there in a surreal moment. While Caleb was shaping a bubble hat on Hannah Grace’s head from the shampoo we put on the waterslide, Eli was sitting in the sound booth of a hospital research lab unresponsive to little beeps he had heard perfectly just two months ago. The distance between the worlds in which we have to live seems painfully infinite. But, today, with great effort, I have kept in perspective the weight of hearing loss to a victory over cancer. The picture tonight is of Eli before he went in for this last round of chemo.