Joe Frazier died on Monday. Complications from liver cancer. He had a full life as a Former Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion, the owner and manager of a boxing gym in Philadelphia, a member of both the International Boxing and World Boxing Halls of Fame and the uncredited inspiration for the meat-punching and stair-running in Rocky, but he’s most famous for being able to write “gave Muhammed Ali his first professional defeat” at the top of his resume.
From CNN.com —
Frazier’s family issued a brief statement.
“We The Family of … Smokin’ Joe Frazier, regret to inform you of his passing,” the statement said. “He transitioned from this life as ‘One of God’s Men,’ on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Ali also issued a brief statement, because Ali and Frazier are more connected in most minds than “Joe Frazier” and “Joe Frazier’s arms and legs”.
“The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.”
Frazier and his left hook retired in 1976 with a 32-4-1 record having George Foreman, Joe Bugner, Jimmy Ellis and Oscar Bonavena. He hit Ali with one of the most famous punches in history in round 15 of 1971’s “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden and lost a 12-round decision in a January 1974 rematch. The “Thrilla in Manila” came and went, and the image we carry of Frazier is from there, his eyes swollen shut, Ali closer to death than he’d ever been. There’s also the Foreman knockout, with Howard Cosell’s iconic “down goes Frazier” and the idea that if you can fall down and become iconic before you’ve hit the ground, you’ve led some kind of life.
… and if you need more proof of a life well-lived, check out Frazier and Ali on ‘This Is Your Life’, by way of Buzzfeed.
Rest in peace, Smokin’ Joe.