By Matt Goldstein
Former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, “Smokin” Joe Frazier was one of the greatest fighters and biggest punchers of all time. His short stocky frame, much like Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano, gave him punching power almost unmatched. Joe Frazier was also one of the most exciting fighters ever! Never in a dull fight, Frazier’s trilogy with Muhammad Ali was extremely brutal and damaged both fighters for life. Dynamic in and out of the ring, Joe Frazier will be missed. Many think Joe Frazier was snubbed by the fans and the business outside of the ring, but one thing cannot be questioned, and those are the ring accomplishments of Heavyweight Champion Smokin Joe Frazier.
1960: Joe leaves South Carolina for Philadelphia after multiple conflicts with racist white men.
1960: Joe Frazier begins boxing in the gritty and legendary Philadelphia gyms which are notoriously brutal.
1962, 1963, 1964: Joe Frazier wins the three golden gloves championships.
1964: Joe Frazier is snubbed for the Olympic team but becomes a last minute replacement when Buster Mathis suffers a hand injury.
1964: Joe Frazier wins the Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo at the summer games.
1964: Even after winning the Olympic Gold medal and multiple amateur titles, prominent boxing promoters and managers snub Joe Frazier thinking he is too short and stocky for a professional heavyweight.
1965: Joe Frazier suffers a left eye injury in training and his entire professional career is fought with only partial vision.
1967: Muhammad Ali refuses to “fight” in the Vietnam War and is banned from boxing in the United States. Joe Frazier lends Ali money when Muhammad is unable to pay his bills as Joe sympathizes with Ali’s religious protest. Ali would never have had to actually fight, and Muhammad knew this. Dodging the draft was strictly a religious, political, and civil rights statement.
1967: Joe Frazier knocks out Buster Mathis to win the vacant heavyweight championship of the world.
1970: Joe Frazier actually petitions President Richard Nixon for Ali’s license to be restored.
1971: Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali at Madison Square in a classic! Frazier UD15 Ali. This is the first fight ever between 2 undefeated champions and at the time, the biggest sporting event ever. Ali is knocked down and wobbled multiple times as the famous Philly left hook from Frazier was vicious.
1973: Joe’s lack of size finally catches up to him as he is knocked out in 2 rounds by George Foreman.
1974: Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden in their 2nd fight. Ali UD12 Frazier.
1975: Joe Frazier is defeated again by Muhammad Ali in the Thrilla in Manilla. The 3rd fight between the two champions is one of the most brutal fights of all time and both fighters may have barely escaped death. Frazier’s corner stops the fight after the 14th round but rumors swirl that Ali might not have answered the bell. Ali wanted to quit from sheer exhaustion at the end of the fight. Frazier is furious that the fight is stopped and never forgives his corner. Having witnessed 8 ring deaths, trainer Eddie Futch never regrets his decision in stopping the fight. That night, Ali goes to the hospital and Frazier goes out and parties.
1975: With all of Ali’s antics and name calling in promoting the three fights, Frazier takes it personally and holds a grudge for life. Although they had several reconciliations, Frazier’s feelings were deeply hurt when Ali called him a “gorilla” and implies Frazier is an uncle tom and “house nigger.” Frazier was not deserving of either insinuation.
1976: Frazier is again knocked out by George Foreman. Foreman TKO5 Frazier.
1981: When Frazier finally retires for good, his professional record is 32-4-1 with 27 knockouts. The knockout ratio indicates devastating knockout power and a left hook that put Muhammad Ali on his ass. Not only is Joe Frazier the greatest Philadelphia fighter of all time, Smokin Joe is one of the greatest fighters of all time period. The man put the Philly left hook on the map and destroyed the competition with severe brutality.
Notable Career Wins: Muhammad Ali, Buster Mathis, Jerry Quarry (twice), Jimmy Ellis, George Chuvalo, Oscar Benovena (twice).
1981: A troubled 15 year old Brooklyn boy living and fighting in the Catskills, furiously studies tapes of Joe Frazier and Rocky Marciano because of the very similar body types. Six years later, that young boy, Mike Tyson, goes onto to be the youngest heavyweight champion ever and is considered the biggest puncher and most dynamic fighter of all time.
Through the 1980’s and 90’s, Frazier’s gym opened and closed multiple times while Joe has some money troubles.
October 18, 2008: Joe Frazier was attending the Hopkins-Pavlik fight in Atlantic City and when one of his biggest fans asked for a picture, Joe graciously stood up out of his wheel chair, put his arm around me and took the picture. It was a great honor and one of the happiest moments of my life.
November 7, 2011: Joe Frazier passes away from a brief battle with liver cancer. The world loses a legend.