Tuesday, November 8, 2011

R.I.P. Joe Frazier


I have just awakened to the tragic news that Boxing Great and Philadelphian, "Smokin" Joe Frazier has passed away.  It was just this weekend that we learned that he was suffering from Liver Cancer and in hospice care....I was floored by that news....and now I hear that he has died.

I had the pleasure of actually meeting him about ten years ago...In a bar...He bought me and my friends drinks and laughed and talked with us...He was a real nice guy....Back in the 70's...I have to admit, I was an Ali fan during their classic three wars...but even then..I always had great respect for that man's left hook and that warrior heart of his....

He was once a heavyweight champion, and a great one at that.Muhammad Ali would say as much after Frazier knocked him down in the 15th round en route to becoming the first man to beat Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in March 1971.

But he bore the burden of always being Ali's foil, and he paid the price. Bitter for years about the taunts his former nemesis once threw his way, Frazier only in recent times came to terms with what happened in the past and said he had forgiven Ali for everything he said.

Joe Frazier, who died Monday night after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67, will forever be linked to Muhammad Ali. But no one in boxing would ever dream of anointing Ali as The Greatest unless he, too, was linked to Smokin' Joe.

''I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,'' Ali said in a statement. ''My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.''

They fought three times, twice in the heart of New York City and once in the morning in a steamy arena in the Philippines. They went 41 rounds together, with neither giving an inch and both giving it their all. They nearly killed each other..but in those wars grew a grudging respect, I believe.

In their last fight in Manila in 1975, when I was 17 and still in high school they traded punches with a fervor that seemed unimaginable among heavyweights then and now. Joe 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.

''Closest thing to dying that I know of,'' Ali said afterward.

Muhammad Ali was as merciless with Frazier out of the ring as he was inside it. He called him a gorilla, and mocked him as an Uncle Tom. But he respected him as a fighter, especially after Frazier won a decision to defend his heavyweight title against the then-unbeaten Ali in a fight that was so big Frank Sinatra was shooting pictures at ringside and both fighters earned an astonishing $2.5 million. Unheard of until then for a prize fight.

The night at the Garden 40 years ago remained fresh in Joe Frazier's mind as he talked about his life, career and relationship with Ali a few months before he died.

''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.''

Joe... We'll miss you...You were a true warrior! You can rest on your shield now~!


James Perkins said...

Rest in Peace Smokin Joe!

Samuel Bastion said...

R.I.P. Joe!

Sean said...

Didn't realize I missed this before. Rest in peace Smokin Joe!


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