Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Joe Frasier (January 12, 1944-November 7, 2011)
Joseph William "Joe" Frazier, 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.