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Smokin' Joe and the Thrill is Back

Category: , Posted:15 Jul 2013 | 09:02 am

One of my favourite Muhammad Ali rants goes something like "Killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila".
Rewind back to one of the greatest boxing events of all time with Smokin' Joe Frazier squaring off and trading deafening blows with Ali that went 14 agonising rounds.
The often documented rise and fall of fortunes of the Philippines could well be likened to those of a lifelong fighter, going from early promise as a strong contender only to fall face down in an unanticipated defeat.
What's that line about you never hear the shot that kills you? Kick into the Rocky theme and like the franchise film series which not only jumped the shark but somehow ended up back at the meat packing plant.
Cutting to the chase, Rocky was knocked down more times than I can remember, but always came back swinging.
Yet as the protege grows older and wiser, a comeback is staged, only to be cut short again.
Getting up off the mat he vows to try yet again.
In time, with hard work, true grit and a bit of luck, the tables turn and an ageing yet graceful champion is crowned.
Sure the scars are there and you couldn't count the age lines on his face, yet after bitter failure comes the distant musical strains of success.
Hitting the news in similar style is Filipino billionaire Henry Sy, who is set to merge his real estate assets into what will be one of the largest real estate firms in the country, SM Prime Holdings, on the back of a market cap that Bloomberg estimates will be in excess of US$14 billion.
I don't even want to imagine how many pesos that is, but it's one hell of a lot.
Just a few short months ago, the Philippines also hit the world's financial news lines when Standard and Poor's upgraded the country with an investment grade rating.
Even Southeast Asia's largest economy, Indonesia, hasn't hit that high note yet.
In the land of mango, tango and fandango the buzz was clearly on.
Not only did it exceed an American Idol Glee Club, but it elevated market sentiment more than a successful Manny Pacquiao bout could.
This year I've taken a number of trips to the land of 7107 islands and the story line is reading welL It's imperfect, as is real life, but President Nonoy Aquino has been an able bodied inspirational trainer in the corner of our journeyman boxer.
He's coaxed the ageing spirit along, stopped the bleeding which could have ended with a towel thrown into the ring, and ultimately jumped up, thrusting his hands up in the air when a hard fought victory was won.
Somehow I feel wherever Smokin' Joe resides these days, way up in the air, you can't help but feel he's cracked a smile at how the far the "Thrill a in Manila" has come.

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