Why you should care

Because the wide world of sports once revolved around one thing: boxing.

It’s easy to forget now that boxing was once America’s favorite sport, and it supplied some of our biggest heroes during much of the tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s. The zeitgeist was captured in the 1971 Madison Square Garden battle known simply as “the Fight,” between the “rebel” Muhammad Ali and the “establishment champion” Joe Frazier. Ali was defeated by Frazier, Ali’s one-time friend and benefactor during his exile from boxing.

Two years later, with 29 wins under his belt, a still undefeated Frazier geared up for another championship fight, this time in Kingston, Jamaica. He did not expect the challenge he got from a young Texan named George Foreman. Legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell, a former union lawyer turned Walter Cronkite of the sporting world, captured the stunningly brief upset as only he could:

You’ll hear him shout out the classic phrase before the clip hits the 30-second mark. But Cosell would cry out “Down goes Frazier!” six more times before the referee put an end to the brutal string of knockdowns, stripping away Frazier’s championship title. Still, there’s no denying the power of both men’s athletic performance, or the broadcaster’s ability to distill the passion of legions of breathless fans on boxing’s biggest night.

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