05 Jun 2014

Quiz in Reading Comprehension

Humor 28 Comments

I realize we’re all busy and this is silly, but suppose you are trying to figure out which boxer (or both?) broke Ali’s jaw: Ken Norton or Joe Frazier? And then you stumble upon this article which ostensibly will clear it up for you. I encourage you to take 3 minutes and quickly read the whole thing from top to bottom.

Now tell me: If you just had that article to rely on, what would you conclude? I submit that you would conclude, “Joe Frazier and Ken Norton both broke Ali’s jaw in the same fight. Joe Frazier must be the stage name for ‘Ken Norton’ just like Ali is really Cassius Clay.”

28 Responses to “Quiz in Reading Comprehension”

  1. Andrew' says:

    Wow. I’ve also found this to be what a lot of news stories are like these days. It took me a long time to find out how many people the Santa Barbara killer killed.

    I’m dreading when my wife asks me my thoughts on the prisoner swap and I have to try to figure out what the hell happened.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      How well it does the job is still an open question, but this is exactly the problem that Ezra Klein’s new site vox.com is intended to solve. Their goal is to explain the news and give context rather than just write an update to the information the reader is already assumed to have about.

      • Andrew' says:

        Okay. I like how he puts a sentence link “which already has the legal authority”

        referring to the EPA that I was particularly interested in. The link doesn’t explain the linked sentence.

        I’m not really referring in my comment on the shooting to stuff I was assumed to know, I think it is that the news assumes the thing that is really important doesn’t actually matter because they are pushing something, in the case of Vox it is apparently Obama’s agenda.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      I think the article is saying it was the split decision (which later is called unanimous!) that broke Ali’s jaw.

  2. Matt M -Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    I really liked this one (short paragraph, only a few sentences)


  3. Andrew' says:

    The Ali story seems to be missing (but of course I can’t really tell) “In the next fight,…” and “In the previous fight,…” and I think those two prepositional phrases would take the story from utterly baffling to just fine.

    • Mark Geoffriau says:

      No, it’s not just that. The correct order of events:

      1971 — Ali fights Frazier in “The Fight of the Century” and loses
      1973 — Ali fights Norton, has jaw broken, loses

      This cannot be reconciled with the author’s opening paragraph:

      “On March 8, 1971, Joe Frazier broke more than Muhammad Ali’s historic winning streak in boxing – he broke his jaw. The sellout throng of 20,455 at Madison Square Garden witnessed the cracking of Ali’s jawbone and unanimous 15-round decision later.”

      • Andrew' says:

        That’s why I went back and added (but of course I can’t really tell).

        One can make sense of the story with the proposed additions. But they may not be factually accurate.

        My dance card is full correcting the Supreme Court and Obama. I don’t have time to fact check Classic Fights.

        • Andrew' says:

          But here goes. I’m guessing the jaw was broken in the Frazier fight, didn’t get treated until after the Norton fight. It was in the Norton fight that the already broken jaw was separated to the point of requiring surgery after the fight.

          • Andrew' says:

            I’m guessing the gist of the website is that the X-ray after the Frazier fight indicates the jaw was broken but was never really corrected until after the subsequent fight.

            I hate internet forensics, but I feel like it is my vocation nowadays.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Mark, so did Frazier *not* break Ali’s jaw during the 1971 bout?

        That’s what I am trying to figure out. Did Ali’s jaw get cracked/broken in both fights?

        • Mark Geoffriau says:

          There is no record of Frazier breaking Ali’s jaw in 1971 or at any time. Likewise, there is no record of anyone ever breaking Ali’s jaw other than Norton in 1973.

          One guess as to the source of confusion may be that in the 1971 Frazier fight, Ali did apparently take a hook to the jaw that resulted in severe swelling. But this is stretching for an explanation, really — there’s not really even any indication that there has ever been widespread rumors that Ali’s jaw was actually broken in the first fight.

          All I can figure is that the author got the two events mixed up.

          • Andrew' says:

            Here is where the rubber meets the road.

            The author definitely (maybe!) thinks the jaw was fractured in the Frazier fight.

          • Matt M -Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Quick – go use this article as a source to edit Wikipedia to say that Frazier broke Ali’s jaw. Within a few years, this can be a widely accepted fact!

            • Grane Peer says:

              Facts, plbbh. You can use facts to prove anything that is even remotely true

  4. Andrew' says:
    • Mark Geoffriau says:

      Yup. And then there’s more disagreement in the comments:

      “I’m pretty sure Frazier didn’t break Ali’s jaw, though. It was horribly swollen, but I can’t find any reliable reference to Ali getting a broken jaw against Frazier, online or in any reference books (remember them!).”

      • Andrew' says:

        I agree that if the author knows or thinks he is revising history he should be a little more delcarative.

        • Andrew' says:

          Not that I claim to be a definitive writer, just an expert in cluttered thinking, as it takes one to know one.

          But I think the gist of the article is that someone found the X-ray after the Frazier fight.

          But I’m speculating.

    • Andrew' says:

      Incidentally, here is a funny bit. Catch it?”

      “The compliment was heartfelt but not enough to assuage the more simple Frazier’s hurt at all Ali’s promotional insults down the years, which now included calling him ‘The Gorilla’ in the Thrilla in Manila.”

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/boxing/article-2058866/Joe-Frazier-obituary-The-little-guy-shocked-The-Greatest-Muhammad-Ali.html#ixzz33nSQFAu9
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

      • Andrew' says:

        (I’m assuming they didn’t mean it, but who knows)

  5. Mark Geoffriau says:

    The rabbit hole just got a little deeper. Check this out:


    This is a NYT story from 1971 about the Frazier fight. It forms the main structure of the text from Bob’s link.

    However, in Bob’s link it has been edited as well as added to. Most critically here:

    The original story: “Suddenly, he departed for Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital for X-rays of his severely swollen jaw. He was released from the hospital after 40 minutes and left unbandaged.”

    Bob’s link: “He and his camp then suddenly departed for Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital. X-rays of his severely swollen jaw would eventually show Ali’s jawbones were separated by a quarter of an inch. However, at the time, Ali was actually released from the hospital after 40 minutes and left without any bandages.”

    • Andrew' says:

      Maybe Ali wanted the jaw injury kept under wraps…har har…so as not to expose a weakness for an upcoming fight.

      Otherwise he might have had to go through with surgery that would have cut into…har har…his haymaking…ha!…period after the ban.

  6. Kay says:

    This is a stretch, but depending on the angle at which the xray is taken (even with a pano such as this) an angular break can appear as hairline. Pooling of blood within the broken vessels in the bone led to the swellimg. Yes, an athlete could fight through the pain … for a while.

    Looking at the video, there are numerous forces that could separate the crack later (especially from blows to the contralateral side) and result in the half centimeter separation. His right was severlely compromised to begin with, having been edentulous and having resultant severe loss of bone height in that region. The break is in the ascending ramus and that is no 40 minute wiring job, so it must have gone undetectable on the initial radiograph (wherever they/it may be).

  7. khodge says:

    Mohammad Ail was not a stage name, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was not a stage name for Lew Alcinder. They changed their names when they converted to Islam and never went back to their birth names.

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