MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipinos in this boxing-crazy nation are grieving the passing of Muhammad Ali, which brought fond memories of the 1975 epic "Thrilla in Manila" fight between Ali and Joe Frazier.
Sports commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz, who was assigned by then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos to act as government liaison to Ali for the bout, said Saturday, "We lost a hero, a peacemaker and a truly charismatic human being."
Nathanielsz likened Ali to Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao, saying both were icons who were close to and inspired common folk.
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 1975, file photo, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, left, applauds as challenger Joe Frazier, right, makes some remarks about world champion Muhammad Ali, second from left, during their call on Marcos at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/Jess Tan, File)
Roel Velasco, who won the bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, thanked Ali for helping inspire him to become a boxer, saying "it's sad to see one of the world's greatest boxers go."