Ali apologizes to Smokin' Joe

Muhammad Ali has apologized for some of the things he said about Joe Frazier before their legendary fight 30 years ago.

Frazier, who was bitter for years about Ali's comments, has said recently that he wanted to put that behind him.

"In a way, Joe's right," Ali said in an interview published in Thursday's New York Times.

"I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn't have said. Called him names I shouldn't have called him.

"I apologize for that. I'm sorry.

"It was all meant to promote the fight."

Frazier outpointed Ali in what was billed as The Fight on Mar. 8, 1971, in Madison Square Garden.

They fought twice more, with Ali winning both times.

Before the first fight, Ali called Frazier an Uncle Tom and said he was "too ugly to be the champ."

Before the third fight, in Manila, he compared Frazier to a gorilla.

"I like Joe Frazier," Ali told the Times. "Me and him was a good show. It was a good travelling show."

Frazier told the Times he accepted Ali's apology.

Attempts to reach Ali, who was honoured Wednesday night by United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, where unsuccessful.

A publicist for Ali said Thursday he was en route to Phoenix, Ariz.