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It was billed as simply “The Fight.” It sold out Madison Square Garden’s nearly 21,000-seat capacity a full month in advance and featured premium tickets at then record-setting prices of $150.ii It left some A-list celebrities, like former vice president of the United States Hubert Humphrey and best-selling recording artist of the 20th century Bing Crosby relegated to the “cheap seats” or out in the cold, respectively.iii It featured two undefeated boxing icons, each guaranteed $2.5 million—setting another record at the time as the largest purse for any entertainer or athlete.iv And, on March 8, 1971, the much anticipated matchup between former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and current titleholder Joe Frazier drew a worldwide audience of 300 million viewers, glued to radio and television broadcast networks that offered updates between each of the 15 roundsv—among them security guards at an FBI satellite office in Media, Pennsylvania, distracted by the perfect smokescreen for a nondescript team of eight to execute the perfect crime.
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