A Tribute To Smokin’ Joe Frazier

joe frazierThe boxing world was shaken this week after the one and only Smokin’ Joe Frazier died of liver cancer at the age of 67 (January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011).  Joe Frazier was an Olympic and undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion in what was arguably boxing’s most prized era.  Frazier will forever be known for his perseverance, pride and heart in the ring. The nickname “Smokin’ Joe” was given to him because of the relentless bobbing-and-weaving style he used to wear down his opponents, which sometimes appeared as though Joe may start smoking at any moment.  This style would allow Joe to work his way inside to attack the body before eventally unleashing his signature left hook.

Frazier will always be remembered for his three epic battles against Muhammad Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay).  The first fight took place at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971.   Ali had been stripped of the title because he refused to be inducted into the Armed Forces. This clash between the two legends was labeled as the “fight of the century,” as Frazier (26-0) and Ali (31-0) were both undefeated at the time.  Frazier won the fight via unanimous decision in the 15th round, in a fight that left both men in the hospital for several days.  Frazier was later handed his first loss by a young George Foreman in 1973.  Frazier’s second fight with Ali took place in 1974, with Ali winning via unanimous decision in the 12th round.  The final meeting between the two boxing legends took place on October 1, 1975 in the Philippines, in a fight known as the “Thrilla in Manilla”.  The fight was more of a war than a boxing match, as it was stopped just before the 15th round.  Ali won the fight, but neither man was ever the same.

Smokin’ Joe is a true American hero.  Through hard work and dedication Joe Frazier became both a champion and an icon in the sporting world.  He was never the most charismatic or elegant fighter in the ring, but no champion was as fearless and few showed as much heart as Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

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