Boxing Legend Joe Frazier Passes Away At 67
Boxing legend Smokin’ Joe Frazier, best known for his battles with Muhammad Ali, died on Monday (November 6) at the age 67, said reports.
Apparently Frazier had been diagnosed with liver cancer a month prior, and died in Philadelphia after a brief battle with the disease.
Beyond his death, he will be forever linked to Ali … as well as the first man to ever defeat him during their fight at Madison Square Garden in March 1971.
Despite their place in history together, Frazier and Ali weren’t the best of friends. After Ali taunted him after their fights, Frazier remained bitter for years. It wasn’t until recent times that he finally forgave Ali for all that he had said … and left things in the past.
They fought three times, twice in New York City and once in a historic match in the Philippines. They went 41 rounds together, each being as exciting as the others.
In their last fight in Manila in 1975, they traded punches in a fight that has been seared into the minds of boxing fans forever. Two warriors in the ring were Ali and Frazier. Frazier gave almost as good as he got for 14 rounds, then had to be held back by trainer Eddie Futch as he tried to go out for the final round, unable to see.
It wasn’t the beatings they gave each other that made them hate one another though, it was Ali’s taunts, as previously mentioned. He called him a gorilla, and mocked him as an Uncle Tom. But, he did respect him. After all, Frazier did hand him his first official ass whipping.
That night at the Garden, 40 years ago, was fresh in Frazier’s mind as he talked about his life, career and relationship with Ali a few months before he died, reports ESPN.
“I can’t go nowhere where it’s not mentioned,” he told the Associated Press. “That was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life.”
Frazier was a heavyweight champion, though considered small in the division, weighing in at just 205 pound when he first won the title with a stoppage of Jimmy Ellis in their 1970 fight. Despite his lack of size, he made up with heart. He was relentless, moving forward constantly and there were few fighters who could withstand the pressure he put on them.
His reign as heavyweight champ lasted for just four fights — including his win over Ali. It was a young George Foreman who dropped Frazier three times in the first round and three more in the second during their 1973 fight in Jamaica, where George was named the new heavyweight champion. Two fights later, he met Ali in a rematch of their first fight, but lost to him in a 12-round decision. Later that year, Ali beat Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire.
Of course, then there was the final fight in the Ali/Frazier trilogy, the “Thrilla In Manilla.”
It is still considered one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Despite intense heat inside the arena, both fought … the entire fight, neither willing to concede to the other for even one second.
It was Frazier’s trainer who called the fight in the final round, because his eyes were swelled shut.
Frazier retired from boxing with a 32-4-1 record, after losing to Foreman for a second time. Though he came out of retirement later for one last fight, which he won, his best days in the ring were in the past … probably in that ring in Manilla where he last faced Ali.
In the 1980s, he managed the boxing career of his eldest son Marvis, who was best known for devastating knockout losses to champions Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson. Frazier’s daughter Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde entered women’s boxing and fought Ali’s daughter Laila, losing on a decision in 2001.