The sports world suffered a great lost this week when on Monday, November 7, 2011, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier passed away after a long battle with liver cancer. Frazier, one of the United States’ elite boxers of the 60s and 70s, won the Gold medal during the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and was also a World Heavyweight Champion in the 70s.
Though he did hold the title of Champion, the majority of Fraziers’ fame comes from his matches with Muhammad Ali. In their first of three career fights, sometimes referred to as the Fight of the Century, a 27-year old Frazier was taking on an older Ali who had also been out of boxing for 3 years. Though Ali held his own at the beginning, endurance soon became an issue and Frazier was able to pull off a unanimous decision.
The next two meetings between the legendary boxers, Ali-Frazier II and Thrilla in Manilla, did not end up being as entertaining of fights as the first, but helped Ali improve his reputation by beating one of the best….twice. Frazier also had a couple duals with George Foreman, but unfortunately was not able to beat him either match and ultimately retired after one of the beatings.
Throughout much of his later life, Frazier had the reputation of disliking his rival Muhammad Ali, though they did settle some of their differences and were on respectful speaking terms when he passed. Ali made a statement that Frazier was a great athlete and human, respected him and his career and wished his family and loved ones his best.
Though it is always unfortunate when someone passes away, the actions that take place afterwards always seem to show everyone what type of person they really were. Some people may look at boxers as big refrigerators of muscle that like to get punched in the head, but all the newscasters, referees, trainers and even opponents of Joe Frazier all say that he was one of the nicest people they would ever have the privilege of working with. Rivalries are a very important aspect of all sports, without them things would not be as exciting, but it is good to see that respect of the athlete as a person outweighs anything negative fans may feel about the athlete because of who he played for or what fan-favorite he may have beaten.
Remember the life of a boxing legend with great collectibles and autographs available at Pro Sports Memorabilia.