- Category : Boxer
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 4
Joseph William "Joe" Frazier (January 12, 1944 (source: Richard Nolle) – November 7, 2011), also known as Smokin' Joe, was a former Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976, with a brief comeback in 1981.
Frazier emerged as the top contender in the late 1960s, defeating the likes of Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo and Jimmy Ellis en route to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 1970, and followed up by defeating Muhammad Ali on points in the highly-anticipated "Fight of the Century" in 1971. Two years later Frazier lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Ali, and beating Quarry and Ellis again.
Frazier's last world title challenge came in 1975, but he was beaten by Ali in their brutal rubbermatch. He retired in 1976 following a second loss to Foreman. He made a comeback in 1981, fighting just once, before retiring for good. The International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time. He is an inductee of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Frazier's style was often compared to that of Henry Armstrong and occasionally Rocky Marciano. He was dependent on bobbing, weaving, grunting, snorting as he grimaced with all out aggression wearing down his opponents with relentless pressure. His best known punch was a powerful left hook, which accounted for most of his knockouts. Compared to Ali's style, he was close enough to the ideal bruiser that some in the press and media characterized the bouts as the answer to the classic question: "What happens when a boxer meets with a brawler?"
After retiring Frazier made cameo appearances in several Hollywood movies, and two episodes of The Simpsons. His son Marvis became a boxer — trained by Frazier himself — although was unable to emulate his father's success. Frazier continued to train fighters in his gym in Philadelphia. His later years saw the continuation of his bitter rivalry with Ali, in which the two periodically exchanged insults, interspersed with brief reconciliations.
Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011 and admitted to hospice care. He died November 7, 2011.
Joe Frazier was born to Rubin and Dolly Frazier in Laurel Bay, Beaufort, South Carolina. Joe said he was always close to his father, who carried Joe when he was a toddler "over the 10 acres of farmland us Frazier's owned, to the still where he made his bootleg corn liquor, and into town on Saturdays to buy the necessities that a family of 10 needed. Billy Boy, as he was affectionately called, wasn't along just for the ride."
Rubin had his left hand and part of his forearm amputated a year before Joe was born. While Rubin and Dolly were in the car a friend named Arthur Smith, who was drunk at the time and was fond of meeting women, passed by and made a move for Dolly. He was refused. When Frazier's parents drove away, Smith fired several bullets, hitting Dolly once in the foot and Rubin several times in the arm, which was hanging outside the car. Arthur Smith went to jail for the shooting, but didn't stay long. As Joe's mother put it, "If you were a good workman, the white man took you out of jail and kept you busy on the farm." His parents owned a farm "which had 10 acres, and two mules, Buck and Jenny, to work them." Frazier had said the land was what country folk called "white dirt, which is another way of saying it isn't worth a damn." The Frazier family couldn't grow peas or corn on it, they were only able to grow cotton and watermelon.
In the early '50s, Joe's father got a black and white television. His father, his mother, her brothers and other people from the neighborhood would come to watch boxing matches on it. Frazier's mother sold drinks for a quarter as they watched fighters like Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Willie Pep, and Rocky Graziano. One night Joe walked onto the porch of his house when his Uncle Israel noticed Joe's stocky build. "That boy there...that boy is gonna be another Joe Louis" he remarked. The words made an impression on Joe. At school, his classmates would give him a sandwich or a quarter to walk with them at final bell so that bullies would not mess with them. Joe remarked, "Any "scamboogah" (a disrespectful, low-down and foul person) who got in my face would soon regret it: Billy Boy could kick anybody's ass." The next day after Joe was labelled the next Joe Louis, he got an old burlap sack and filled it with rags, corncobs, a brick in the middle and Spanish moss that grew on trees all over Beaufort County. He then tied a rope to it and hung the makeshift heavybag from an oak tree in the backyard where the mules were kept. "For the next 6, 7 years, damn near every day I'd hit that heavybag for an hour at a time. I'd wrap my hands with a necktie of my Daddy's, or a stocking of my Momma's or sister's, and get to it" Joe remarked.
It was not long after Joe started working out that his left arm was seriously damaged because of the Fraziers' ornery 300 pound hog. The hog was very nasty from time to time, but sometimes Joe could not resist teasing it. One day Joe poked the hog with a stick and ran away, but someone had left the gate to the pigpen open and the hog ran through the gate, chasing Joe. In his hurry, Joe fell and hit his left arm on a brick. The arm was torn badly, but as the Frazier family was unable to pay for a doctor, the arm had to heal on its own. The arm eventually did heal, but Joe was never able to keep it fully straight again. It was crooked and lacking a full range of motion. But as it existed, it was as though it was cocked for the left hook — permanently cocked.
By the time Joe was 15 years old, he was working on a farm for a family named Bellamy. They were both white men, Mac who was the younger of the two and more easy going, and Jim who was a little rougher and somewhat backward. One day a little black boy of about 12 years old, damaged one of the Bellamy's tractors without meaning to. Jim Bellamy became so enraged he took off his belt and whipped the boy with his belt right there in the field. Joe saw the event and went back to the packing house on the farm and told his black friends what he had seen. It wasn't long before Jim Bellamy saw Joe and asked him why he told what he had witnessed. Joe then told Bellamy he didn't know what he was talking about, but Bellamy didn't believe Joe and threatened Joe to get off the farm before he took off his belt again. Joe told him he better keep his pants up because he wasn't going to use his belt on him. Jim then analyzed Joe for a bit and eventually said "Go on, get the hell outta here." Joe knew from that moment it was time for him to leave Beaufort, he could only see hard times and low-rent for himself. Even his Momma could see it. She told Joe "Son, if you can't get along with the white folks, then leave home because I don't want anything to happen to you."
The train fare from Beaufort to the cities up North was costly, and the closest bus-stop was in Charleston, 96 miles (154 km) away. Luckily by 1958, the bus (The Dog, as called by locals in Beaufort) had finally made Beaufort a stop on its South Carolina route. Joe had a brother, Tommy, in New York. He was told he could stay with Tommy and his family. Joe had to save up a bit before he could make the bus trip to New York and still have some money in his pocket, and he went to work for the local Coca-Cola plant. Joe remarked the white guy would drive the truck and he would do the real work, stacking and unloading the crates. Joe stayed with Coca-Cola until the government began building houses for the marines stationed over at Parris Island, when he was hired on a work crew. Nine months had eventually passed from when he got the boot from the Bellamy farm. One day, with no fanfare, no tearful goodbyes, Joe packed quickly and got the first bus heading northward. "I climbed on the Dog's back and rode through the night" Joe remarked. "It was 1959, I was 15 years old and I was on my own."
In Joe's amateur days, he won the Middle Atlantic Golden Gloves heavyweight championships in 1962, 1963 and 1964. His only loss in three years as an amateur was to Buster Mathis. Mathis would prove to be Joe's biggest obstacles to making the 1964 U.S. Olympic Boxing team. They met in the final of the U.S. Olympic Trial at the New York World's Fair in the summer of 1964. Their fight was scheduled for three rounds, and they fought with 10 oz gloves and with headgear, even though the boxers who made it to Tokyo would wear no headgear and would wear 8 oz gloves. Joe was eager to get back at Mathis for his only amateur loss, and KO'd two opponents to get to the finals. But once again, when the dust settled, the judges had called it for Mathis, undeservedly Joe thought. "All that fat boy had done was run like a thief- hit me with a peck and backpedal like crazy." Joe would remark.
Mathis had worn his trunks very high, ("darn near up to his titties") so that when Joe hit Mathis with legitimate body shots the referee took a dim view of them. In the second round, the referee had gone so far as to penalize Joe two points for hitting below the belt. "In a three-round bout a man can't afford a points deduction like that," Joe would say. Joe then returned to Philadelphia feeling as low as he'd ever been, and was even thinking of giving up boxing. Duke Dugent and his trainer Yank Durham were able to talk Joe out of his doldrums and even suggested Joe make the trip to Tokyo as an alternate, in case something happened to Mathis. Joe agreed and while there, he was a workhorse, sparring with any of the Olympic boxers who wanted some action. "Middleweight, light heavyweight, it didn't matter to me, I got in there and boxed all comers" Joe would say. In contrast, Mathis was slacking off. In the morning, when the Olympic team would do their roadwork, Mathis would run a mile, then start walking saying "Go ahead, big Joe. I'll catch up."
Towards the end of the training camp, arrangements were made to put on an exhibition for the military brass at Fort Hamilton. That night, Mathis hit Joe with a shot on the head and felt pain in his hand. The next day he said he'd busted a knuckle, which meant he was out and Joe was going to take his place. Joe later expressed doubt over whether Mathis really busted his knuckle. Mathis was out, and it hardly seemed to faze him. He saw Joe the next morning and was as chipper as could be.
At the boxing event, Joe knocked out George Oywello of Uganda in the first round, then knocked out Athol McQueen of Australia 40 seconds into the third round. He was then into the semi-final, as the only American boxer left, facing the 6 foot 4, 230 lb Russian Vadim Yemelyanov.
"My left hook was a heat seeking missile, careening off his face and body time and again. Twice in the second round I knocked him to the canvas. But as I pounded away, I felt a jolt of pain shoot through my left arm. Oh damn, the thumb." Joe would say. Joe knew immediately the thumb of his left hand was damaged, though he wasn't sure as to the extent. "In the midst of the fight, with your adrenaline pumping, it's hard to gauge such things. My mind was on more important matters. Like how I was going to deal with Yemelyanov for the rest of the fight." Fortunately, there was no rest of the fight. The Russian's handlers decided their man had no chance, and threw in the towel. At 1:49 in the second round, the referee raised Joe's injured hand in victory.
Now that Joe was into the final, he didn't mention his broken thumb to anyone. He went back to his room and soaked his thumb in hot water and Epsom salts. "Pain or not, Joe Frazier of Beaufort, South Carolina, was going for gold." Joe proclaimed. Joe would fight a 30 year old German mechanic named Hans Huber, who failed to make it on the German Olympic wrestling team. By now Joe was used to fighting bigger guys, but he was not used to doing it with a damaged left hand. When the opening bell sounded on fight night, Joe came out and started winging punches, he threw his right hand more than usual that night. Every so often he'd used his left hook, but nothing landed with the kind of impact he managed in previous bouts. Under Olympic rules, 5 judges judge a bout, and that night three voted for Joe.
After Frazier won the USA's only 1964 Olympic boxing gold medal, his trainer Yancey "Yank" Durham helped put together Cloverlay, a group of local businessmen (including a young Larry Merchant) who invested in Frazier's professional career and allowed him to train full-time. Durham was Frazier's chief trainer and manager until Durham's death in August 1973.
Frazier turned professional in 1965, defeating Woody Goss by a technical knockout in the first round. He won three more fights that year, all by knockout, none going past the third round.
Joe's second contest was of interest in that he was decked in round 1 by Mike Bruce. Frazier took an "8" count by referee Bob Polis but rallied for a TKO over Bruce in round 3.
In 1966, as Frazier's career was taking off, Durham contacted Los Angeles trainer Eddie Futch. The two men had never met, but Durham had heard of Futch through the latter's reputation as one of the most respected trainers in boxing. Frazier was sent to Los Angeles to train, before Futch agreed to join Durham as an assistant trainer. With Futch's assistance, Durham arranged three fights in Los Angeles against Al Jones, veteran contender Eddie Machen, and George "Scrapiron" Johnson. Frazier knocked out Jones and Machen, but surprisingly went 10 rounds with journeyman Johnson to win a unanimous decision. Johnson had apparently bet all his purse that he'd survive to the final bell, noted Ring magazine, and somehow he achieved it. But Johnson was known in the trade as 'impossibly durable'.
After the Johnson match, Futch became a full-fledged member of the Frazier camp as an assistant trainer and strategist, who advised Durham on matchmaking. It was Futch who suggested that Frazier boycott the 1967 WBA heavyweight elimination tournament to find a successor to Muhammad Ali, after the heavyweight champion was stripped of his title for refusing to be inducted into the military, although Frazier was the top-ranked contender at the time.
Futch proved invaluable to Frazier as an assistant trainer, helping modify his style. Under his tutelage, Frazier adopted the bob-and-weave defensive style, making him more difficult for taller opponents to punch, while giving Frazier more power with his own punches. While Futch remained based in Los Angeles, where he worked as a supervisor with the U.S. Postal Service, he was flown to Philadelphia to work with Frazier during the final preparations for all of his fights.
When Durham died in 1973, Futch was asked to succeed him as Frazier's head trainer and manager. In fact, Futch was training heavyweight contender Ken Norton at the time. He was in Norton's corner in March 1973, when Norton broke Ali's jaw and won a split decision. After Norton lost the rematch to Ali in September 1973, Norton's managers, Robert Biron and Aaron Rivkind, demanded that Futch choose between training Frazier and Norton. Futch chose Frazier, but not without regret at being forced to make the choice.
Mid to late 1960s
Now in his second year, in September 1966 and somewhat green, Frazier won a close decision over rugged contender Oscar Bonavena, despite Bonavena flooring him twice in the second round. A third knockdown in that round would have ended the fight under the three knockdown rule. Frazier rallied and won a decision after 12 rounds. The Machen win followed this contest.
In 1967 Frazier stormed ahead winning all six of his fights, including a sixth-round knockout of Doug Jones and a brutal fourth round (TKO) of Canadian George Chuvalo. No boxer had ever stopped Chuvalo before, but Frazier, despite the stoppage, was unable to floor Chuvalo, who would never be dropped in his career.
By February 1967 Joe had scored 14 wins, all by KO, and his star was beginning to rise. This culminated with his first appearance on the cover of Ring Magazine. In this month he met Ali, who hadn't yet been stripped of his title. Ali said Joe would never stand a chance of "whipping" him, not even in his wildest dreams. Later that year, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world heavyweight title due to his refusal to be inducted into the military during the Vietnam War.
To fill the vacancy, the New York State Athletic Commission held a bout between Frazier and Buster Mathis, with the winner to be recognized as "World Champion" by the state of New York. Although the fight was not recognized as a World Championship bout by some, Frazier won by a knockout in the 11th round and staked a claim to the heavyweight championship. He then defended his claim by beating hard hitting prospect Manuel Ramos of Mexico in two rounds.
He closed 1968 by again beating Oscar Bonavena via a 15-round decision in a hard-fought rematch. Bonavena fought somewhat defensive being often bulled to the ropes which let Frazier build a wide points margin. Ring magazine showed Bonavena afterwards with a gruesomely bruised face. It had been a punishing match.
1969 saw Frazier defend his NYSAC title in Texas, beating Dave Zyglewicz, who'd only lost once in 29 fights, by a first-round knockout. Then he beat Jerry Quarry in a 7th round stoppage. The competitive, exciting match with Quarry was named 1969 Ring Magazine fight of the year. Frazier showed he could do a lot more than just slug. He'd used his newly honed defensive skills to slip, bob, and weave a barrage of Quarry punches. This, despite Quarry's reputation as an excellent counter punching heavyweight.
Wins World Championship — Ellis
On February 16, 1970, Frazier faced WBA champion Jimmy Ellis at Madison Square Garden. Ellis had outpointed Jerry Quarry in the final bout of the WBA elimination tournament for Ali's vacated belt. Frazier had himself declined to participate with the WBA tournament to protest their decision to strip Ali. Ellis also held a win over Oscar Bonavena. Beforehand, Ali had announced his retirement and relinquished the heavyweight title, allowing Ellis and Frazier to fight for the undisputed title. Frazier won by a TKO when Ellis' trainer Angelo Dundee would not let him come out for the 5th round following two 4th round knockdowns (the first knockdowns of Ellis' career). His decisive win over Ellis was a frightening display of power and tenacity.
In his first title defense, Frazier traveled to Detroit to fight world light-heavyweight champion Bob Foster, who would go on to set a record for the number of title defenses in the light-heavyweight division. Frazier (26–0) retained his title by twice flooring the hard punching Foster in the second round. The second knock down came on a devastating left hook, and Foster could not beat the count. Then came what was hyped as the "Fight Of The Century", his first fight with Muhammad Ali, who had launched a comeback in 1970 after a three year suspension from boxing. This would be the first meeting of two undefeated heavyweight champions (and last until Mike Tyson faced Michael Spinks in 1988), since Ali (31–0) had not lost his title in the ring, but rather been stripped because of his refusal to be inducted in the Armed Forces, some considered him to be the true champion. This fight was to crown the one, true heavyweight champion.
Defeats Ali in title defense
On March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden, Frazier and Ali met in the first of their three bouts which was widely called the "Fight of the Century" in pre-bout publicity and the press feeding frenzy. With a worldwide television audience, and an in-house audience that included luminaries such as Frank Sinatra (as a photographer for Life magazine to get a ringside seat), comedian Woody Allen, singer Diana Ross, and actors Dustin Hoffman and Burt Lancaster (who served as "color commentator" with fight announcer Don Dunphy), the two undefeated heavyweights met in the kind of media-frenzied atmosphere not seen since Joe Louis' youth.
Several factors came together for Frazier in this fight. He was 27 years old and at his lifetime peak boxing wise, physically and mentally, while Ali, 29, was coming back from a three-year absence but had kept in training, taking on Frazier soon after a bruising battle with Oscar Bonavena, whom Ali had defeated by a TKO in 15. But in fact the win inspired Ali that he was ready for Frazier. Joe did his 'homework' training with famed coach Eddie Futch, who had developed a strategy based on Ali's tendency to throw the right-hand uppercut from a straight standing position after dropping the hand in preparation to throw it with force. Futch instructed Frazier to watch Ali's right hand and, at the moment Ali dropped it, to throw a left hook at the spot where they knew Ali's face would be a second later. Frazier's major staggering of Ali in the 11th round and his knock-down of Ali in the 15th were both executed precisely in this way.
In a brutally competitive contest, Frazier lost a number of early rounds but took Ali's combinations without backing down. As Ali started to slow in the middle rounds, Frazier came on strong, landing hard shots to the body as well as the powerful left hooks to the head.
Consequently, Frazier won a clear, 15-round, unanimous decision. Ali was taken to the hospital immediately after the fight to have his badly swollen jaw x-rayed, and Frazier spent time in the hospital during the ensuing month, the exertions of the fight having been exacerbated by his existing health problems, such as hypertension and a kidney infection. Some time later he fought a 3-round exhibition against Cleveland Williams.
In 1972, Frazier successfully defended the title twice, beating Terry Daniels and Ron Stander, both by knockout, in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively. It's worth noting Daniels had drawn with Jerry Quarry and Stander had KO'd Earnie Shavers.
Loses title to George Foreman
Ultimately, Frazier lost his undefeated record of 29–0 and his world championship, at the hands of the unbeaten George Foreman on January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica. Despite Frazier being the overall favorite, Foreman towered 4" over the shorter, more compact champion, and soon dominated the brief bout as Frazier came in too open. Two minutes into the first round, Frazier was knocked down. After being knocked down a sixth time referee Arthur Mercante stopped the contest. It was the first two knockdowns that were decisive.
Frazier won his next fight, a 12-round tough decision and floored Joe Bugner in London to begin his quest to regain the title. Many felt it Bugner's best career effort.
See also: Ali-Frazier II and Thrilla in Manila
Frazier's second fight against Ali took place in 1974, in New York, with Ali winning a clear 12-round unanimous decision. It was not a good fight to watch, with much holding and limited action.
Frazier finished 1974 with a much awaited rematch against top Jerry Quarry. A wicked left hook to the ribs giving a five round stoppage although Quarry had tried to go on he clearly couldn't. An impressive win.
In 1975 Frazier rematched Jimmy Ellis, the man from whom he had originally taken the WBA title, in Melbourne, Australia, knocking him out again. This time in nine rounds. The win made him once again the number one challenger for the world crown, now held by Ali, after an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the famous "the Rumble in the Jungle".
Third Ali match
Ali and Frazier met for the third and final time in Quezon City (a district within the metropolitan area of Manila), the Philippines, on October 1, 1975: the "Thrilla in Manila". Ali took every opportunity to mock Frazier, again calling him The Gorilla, and generally trying to irritate him. Some felt this behavior beyond the call of sport.
The fight was far more action-filled than the previous encounter (there was no belt at stake in the second fight), and was a punishing display that ended when Eddie Futch stopped the fight before the 15th and final round. Even though Ali won, he always maintained it was his toughest ever contest. The extreme heat alone made it an amazing effort from both.
In 1976, Frazier (32–3) personally wished to retry against George Foreman. With a shaved head for a new image Frazier fought well enough, somewhat more restrained than usual, avoiding walking onto the big shots which he had done in their first match. However the now great George Foreman awaited his moment and then lobbed in one tremendous left hook that lifted Frazier off his feet. After a second knock down it was stopped in the fifth. Joe retired.
Frazier made a cameo appearance in the movie Rocky later in 1976 and dedicated himself to training local boxers in Philadelphia, where he grew up, including some of his own children. He helped train Duane Bobick a while.
1980s comeback and coaching career
In 1981, Frazier attempted a comeback. He drew over 10 rounds with hulking Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings in Chicago, Illinois. It was a bruising battle with mixed reviews. He then retired for good.
Since then, Frazier has involved himself in various endeavors. Among his sons who turned to boxing as a career, he helped train Marvis Frazier, a challenger for Larry Holmes's world heavyweight title, and trains his daughter, Jackie Frazier-Lyde, whose most notable fight to date was a close points loss against Laila Ali, the daughter of his rival.
Frazier's overall record is 32 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw, with 27 wins by knockout. He won 73 percent of his fights by knockout, compared to 60 percent for Ali and 84 percent for Foreman. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.
In 1986, Frazier appeared as the "corner man" for Mr. T against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 2 at Madison Square Garden. In 1989, Frazier joined Ali, Foreman, Norton and Holmes for the tribute special Champions Forever.
Frazier appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons ("Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?") in 1992, in which he was supposed to have been beaten up by Barney Gumble in Moe's Tavern. Frazier's son objected, and Frazier was instead shown beating up Gumble and putting him in a trash can. Frazier appeared in another episode of The Simpsons ("Homer's Paternity Coot") in 2006. Frazier appeared as himself in the Academy Award winning 1976 movie, Rocky. Since the debut of the Fight Night series of games, Frazier appeared in Fight Night 2004, Fight Night Round 2, Fight Night Round 3, Fight Night Round 4, and Fight Night Champion, games made by EA Sports.
Frazier released his autobiograpy in March 1996, entitled Smokin' Joe: The Autobiography of a Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin' Joe Frazier. Fraizer promoted the book shortly before its release with a memorable appearance on The Howard Stern Show on Janaury 26, 1996.
Financial issues and legal battles
According to an article from New York Times, "over the years, Frazier has lost a fortune through a combination of his own generosity and naïveté, his carousing, failed business opportunities and a deep hatred for his former chief boxing rival, Muhammad Ali. The other headliners from his fighting days — Ali, George Foreman and Larry Holmes — are millionaires." Asked about his situation, Frazier became playfully defensive, but would not reveal his financial status. "Are you asking me how much money I have?" he said. "I got plenty of money. I got a stack of $100 bills rolled up over there in the back of the room." Frazier blamed himself, partly, for not effectively promoting his own image.
Frazier-Lyde is a lawyer and has worked on her father’s behalf in pursuit of money they claim he was owed in a Pennsylvania land deal. In 1973, Frazier purchased 140 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for $843,000. Five years later, a developer agreed to buy the farmland for $1.8 million. Frazier received annual payments from a trust that bought the land with money he had earned in the ring. When the trust went bankrupt, the payments ceased.
Frazier sued his business partners, claiming that his signature was forged on documents and that he had no knowledge of the sale. In the ensuing years, the land was subdivided and turned into a residential community. The property is now worth an estimated $100 million.
Relationship with Muhammad Ali
While Ali's characteristic taunts of his opponent began typically enough, after regaining his title, his taunts eventually turned personal. Joe was painted by Ali as the white man's hope and as an "Uncle Tom", interjecting a racial element into an already contentious and controversial series of great bouts.
Joe Frazier petitioned U.S. President Richard Nixon to have Ali's right to box reinstated, setting up the whole series of matches. (Frazier had boycotted the 1967 WBA heavyweight elimination tournament to find a successor to Muhammad Ali, after the champion had been stripped of the title.)
After years of remaining bitter, Frazier told Sports Illustrated in May 2009 that he no longer held hard feelings for Ali.
Frazier lived in Philadelphia where he owned and managed a boxing gym. Frazier put the gym up for sale in mid 2009. He was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. He and his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, alternated over the years between public apologies and public insults. In 1996, when Ali lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta, Frazier told a reporter that he would like to throw Ali into the fire. Frazier made millions of dollars in the 1970s, but the article cited mismanagement of real-estate holdings as a partial explanation for his economic woes. Frazier stated repeatedly that he no longer had any bitter feelings towards Ali.
Frazier continued to train young fighters, although he needed multiple operations for back injuries sustained in a car accident. He and Ali reportedly attempted a reconciliation in his final years, but in October 2006 Frazier still claimed to have won all three bouts between the two. He declared to a Times reporter, when questioned about his bitterness toward Ali, "I am what I am."
Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011. Within a few weeks, the cancer had metastasized. By November 2011, he was under hospice care, where he died on November 7. Upon hearing of Frazier's death, Muhummad Ali said, "The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration."
In popular culture
Some of the most memorable moments in the 1976 boxing-themed feature film, Rocky — such as Rocky's carcass-punching scenes and Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as part of his training regimen — are taken from Frazier's real-life exploits, for which he received no credit.
In March 2007, a Joe Frazier action figure was released as part of a range of toys based on the Rocky film franchise, developed by the American toy manufacturer, Jakks Pacific.
Professional boxing record
32 Wins (27 knockouts, 5 decisions), 4 Losses (3 knockouts, 1 decision), 1 Draw