WATCH: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier rivalry summed up in quotes 40 years on from 'Thrilla in Manila'

Will boxing ever see a rivalry like this again?

On Thursday it will have been 40 years since what’s still considered the best heavyweight boxing match of all time – the Thrilla in Manila – between champion Muhammad Ali and contender Joe Frazier.

The rivalry between the two is one of the most bitter in sporting history, and harsh words were flung between the pair before, during and after their three fights. Ali came out on top twice, and Frazier beat The Butterfly once, in Ali’s first big match back after his three-year ban for refusing to fight in Vietnam. That night, Frazier became the first to beat Ali.

The hurtful words used by Ali included labelling Frazier an “Uncle Tom”. Before their first fight Ali was still seen as a radical, draft-dodging Muslim, and Frazier was his antithesis – a Bible-reading Christian who Ali said white America would be supporting. Ali said: “There are two types of slaves, Joe Frazier’s worse than you to me. That’s what I mean when I say Uncle Tom, I mean he’s a brother, one day he might be like me, but for now he works for the enemy.”

Here’s a look back at some of what was said specifically around that great fight 40 years ago, the final one between the pair.

It’s easy to see why Joe Frazier was often hurt by Ali’s words

(Dave Pickoff/AP)

Although he was never one to mince his own


You never doubted that the pair meant what they said

(Mitsunori Chigita/AP)

There was a mutual respect between them, maybe not at first – but eventually

(Mitsunori Chigita/AP)

Frazier was stopped by his corner from going back into the ring during the final round


And it took some time before the bitterness died down


Ali said his words were only to promote the fight, and he was one of the first to speak after Frazier’s 2011 death


Frazier didn’t die hating Ali, although he did make a few comments about Ali’s Parkinson’s disease


Including: “God has shut him down. He can’t talk no more because he was saying the wrong things.”

But Ali never glossed over the toll that fight took on 33-year-old Ali and 31-year-old Frazier


And if you have any doubt about the relationship between the two after the dust settled…

Most Read in Sport