Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the biggest match in boxing history, the first meeting between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Held at a sold-out Madison Square Garden and billed as "The Fight of the Century," it was the first time two undefeated heavyweight champions had ever met in the ring. Ali had been stripped of his title in 1967 for refusing induction into the United States Army on religious grounds and banned from boxing for three years with Frazier gaining the championship in the interim.
During his absence from boxing Ali became an icon of both the civil rights movement and the anti-War movement while Frazier was unfairly billed as representing the status quo. This provided political undertones which made the bout a cultural happening. Frazier dropped Ali with a massive left hook in the final round to secure a unanimous decision, though Ali received praise for his toughness in defeat. The two men would meet twice more with Ali winning both encounters. To commemorate the event ABC television aired a remastered video of the bout over the weekend while a statue memorializing the battle was unveiled in Frazier's hometown of Philadelphia Monday.