Hey kids. It’s me again. IseeRobots. So, I was poking around the old WWW the other day when I came across something that was news to me, the fact that Muhammad Ali and The Rock, Rocky Marciano had had a fight back in 1969! What? You missed that one too? I know, weird right? Those two were the greats from two totally different eras! When did they ever get down? Well, it wasn’t all so much a real fight as it was a computer simulation. It was more than that though. The two great pugilists actually got into the ring with each other and threw some blows, albeit in a sort of sparring style for a film that was going to go along with the simulation. Let’s start at the beginning.
In 1967 a computer programmer who I guess was also a huge boxing fan got together with some sports writers and other computer dudes to produce a tournament between history’s top heavyweight boxers. The idea was that all the data from all of the dude’s fights would get put into a super computer, the NCR 315. The 315 was totally top of the line for the era and through it’s incredible processing abilities an answer to the question “Who was the greatest of all the times?” would finally have a definitive answer.
Sounds great right? Well it was even better than that. How? Well each one of the fights would be recreated on the radio as sort of a blow by blow radio play with announcers, sound effects and everything! Totally Rad! Our man Vic Sage should dig those up for a special episode of Retro Radio Memories! Or not, it’s up to him. No pressure.
Anyway, in a controversial moment the top fighter of the then present day, Muhammad Ali got merked in the first round of the tournament by James J Jeffries! Now, Jeffries was a former World’s Champ and he was for sure no slouch but he was no Ali.
Ali took the loss personally and threatened to sue the producers of the show who appeased him by offering him the chance to save face in a one on one match with the only other man alive who could lay claim to being an Undefeated World’s Champ, Rocky Marciano.
The producers upped the ante for the Super Fight with an added visual element. This time around the two men would enter the ring and act out the blows in the same way that the NCR 315 SUPER-COMPUTER said that it would go down. That is so bananas. Ali and Marciano got in the ring and acted out a computer boxing match. People just did whatever computers told them to back in 1969.
Marciano hadn’t fought in like 15 years but in the spirit of the event lost 30 pounds and wore a toupee in the ring while Ali out of action due to some legal issues was still in ring ready condition.
The deal was that neither dude would know the result and that they would record multiple outcomes to the fight to match whatever outcome The NCR might spit out. All in all 75 rounds of action were taped.
In the end The 315 determined that Marciano was the better man and through computer wizardry decreed that The Brockton Blockbuster would put Ali down for good in the 13th Round.
The fight was promoted as a big event and as such was only shown on Close Circuit Television to a limited set of 1500 theaters around the country. Also, it was decided that all prints of the fight were to be destroyed immediately after the fight. Why? I don’t know. Just to be cool I guess.
Sadly, Marciano passed away in a plane crash just weeks after the fight and never learned the outcome. Really though, The Rock retired as the undefeated champion of the world so I don’t really think he was sweating a computer boxing match all that much…
As it turned out a print of the fight did survive the times.
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Someone must have kept one hidden away or something, and in 2005 a DVD of the fight was released which included a documentary of the event and all of the radio fights from the previous tournament as well. If you want you can pick it up on ebay for like 7 bucks. I’m actually going to go do that. I really want to hear those radio fights!
Want a bit more of this sort of Off Beat Shenanigans in your life? Sure you do! Hop on over to ISeeRobots.COm for tons of fun as well as my weekly podcast, The Toys R Us Report! You won’t be sorry for long!