A Good Man – Joe Frazier Is Dead at 67

Boxing great Joe Frazier passed away this morning from liver cancer.
He was 67.


(AP)

The boxing legend was one of the biggest sports icons of the 1960s and 70s.
The AP reported:

Frazier’s legacy is etched in stone as part of the greatest individual rivalry in sports history. The stocky, less-than-graceful Frazier was the perfect foil for the elegant and athletic Muhammad Ali.

Their trilogy, contested between 1971-75, tops everything else in boxing’s long history. Frazier was the first person to defeat Ali.

Outside the ring, Frazier was helpless in the p.r. battle against the loquacious and charismatic Ali. Ali made it personal before their first meeting in 1971 calling the quiet Frazier an “Uncle Tom.”

Both unbeaten, Frazier met Ali in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971 and got his revenge on Ali’s trash talk by winning “The Fight of the Century” via unanimous decision. He cemented the victory by flooring Ali with a leaping left hook, his trademark punch, in the 15th round…

Frazier, the son of Rubin and Dolly Frazier. was born in the poor town of Beaufort, S.C. He was the youngest of 12 children. He relocated to Philadelphia as a teenager.

While working in a slaughterhouse, Frazier began to take boxing seriously. By the time he was 20, Frazier was one of the elite heavyweight prospects in the world. He stormed to the Olympic heavyweight gold medal in 1964 in Tokyo. Six years later, he was the king of the heavyweight division, winning the WBA belt with a fifth-round TKO stoppage of Jimmy Ellis.

His family released this statement today:

“We The Family of the 1964 Olympic Boxing Heavyweight Gold Medalist, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame Member Smokin’ Joe Frazier, regrets to inform you of his passing. He transitioned from this life as “One of God’s Men,” on the eve of November 7, 2011at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We thank you for your prayers for our Father and vast outpouring of love and support.

Respectfully, we request time to grieve privately as a family. Our father’s home going celebration will be announced as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.”

I received the news this weekend from Jeff H. that Joe Frazier was dying.

A good man, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, is dying.

Smokin’ Joe was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal as a heavyweight and the first man to beat Muhammad Ali as a professional. That alone merits recognition. But he was more than just a great athlete.

Jack Cashill and Mark Kram have written extensively about how Frazier was mistreated by Mohammad Ali and the progressives in the liberal media. I believe the Fight of The Century, the first meeting between Frazier and Ail at Madison Square Garden in 1971, is a perfect analogue for the tumult of the Vietnam Era. Ali did, too; and did what he could to get the anti-war sentiment behind him. Joe refused to be a pawn in a larger game. His motivation was professional (beat the man who disputed is claim to the title) and personal (shut Ali’s lying mouth).

If you have a chance, I recommend watching both HBO documentaries on the Ali-Frazier rivalry – Frazier-Ali: One Nation, Divisible; and Thrilla in Manila. Joe’s basic decency and Ali’s degeneracy are shown in clear contrast. It’s shocking to discover what a monster Ali could be. And yet the man is portrayed as a civil rights hero!

In closing, let me share my two favorite Joe Frazier quotes.

In the dressing room before the Fight of the Century, Joe prayed alone in his dressing room. When his son, Marvis, asked his father about his prayer, Joe said “God, let me kill this man. He is not righteous.”

Ali mocked Frazier throughout the 1971 bout. At one point, Ali blasphemously boasted “Don’t you know I’m GOD?”. Unfazed, Joe replied with sibilant left hooks and the retort “‘God,’ you’re in the wrong place tonight. I’m kicking ass and taking names.”

Frazier was an unstoppable force during that fight, withstanding unbelievable punishment from an an all-time great, 29 year old Ali, and I, for one, am grateful for his resolve. Joe’s 1971 victory over Ali was just as politically significant as Joe Louis’s 1938 win over Schmeling or Jack Johnson’s win over Jim Jeffries in 1910. I believe the world would have been a very different place if Ali had won that fight. Thank You, Joe Frazier…

Rest in peace, Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

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