Among the many tributes paid to the former heavyweight world champion, who died on 3rd June, one contribution to British sporting history may have gone unnoticed. But not here at RT.
Preserved in our archive is a letter he wrote to Radio Times from New York City back in 1974, in defence of boxing commentator Harry Carpenter. The BBC’s man at ringside had covered Ali’s rematch with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on 28 January 1974 — and came in for some stinging criticism from RT readers in our letters pages:
“I have never seen such biased commentating,” wrote SA Stone of Newark, Nottinghamshire. “Mr Carpenter seldom mentioned Frazier’s skills. He did not mention Ali’s continual holding until the end of the fight, but only sang his praises.” Ian Nicol of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, claimed, “It was only too obvious that he was willing Ali to win.”
Word of these attacks on Carpenter’s integrity clearly reached Ali – who had won the fight – for back came his riposte (above). “He has always been fair in broadcasting my fights,” wrote Ali of Carpenter. “I wish American sportscasters were as objective.”
And any Doctor Who fans might be interested to note that Ali’s letter was published in the very same issue that featured a note from a young Whovian who goes by the name of… Peter Capaldi.
Pretty cool, eh?