Skip to comments.Joe Frazier, the Herman Cain of the ring
Posted on 11/16/2011 7:22:00 PM PST by Sioux-san
When boxing great Joe Frazier died last week, the media managed to say nice things about Smokin' Joe without ever detailing how they and their chosen one of the moment, Muhammad Ali, conspired to ruin Frazier's life.
I got a sense of this in March 1971, when my friends from grad school and I drove from Purdue to watch a large screen presentation of the first Ali-Frazier fight.
Given the imperatives of student poverty, we headed not south to Indianapolis, which was 40 miles closer, but north to Gary, which was five dollars cheaper.
The moment we walked into the theater, however, I understood what the others did not: Five bucks or no, Gary was a mistake, especially for me as I, almost uniquely, was rooting for Frazier.
I always liked Joe's grit. In June of 1957, the 13-year-old Frazier decided that he'd had enough of school. So he quit and went to work full time on a series of backbreaking jobs in and around Beaufort, S.C.
Compared to Beaufort, Muhammad Ali's Louisville was an Eleanor Roosevelt garden party. "Let's just say," remembered Frazier of Beaufort, "that its attitudes had me wanting to leave there from the time I was a boy."
One day, without fanfare, Frazier packed his bags, headed down to the Greyhound station and bought a one-way ticket for New York on "the dog."
"It was 1959," Frazier recalled. "I was 15 years old and on my own."
Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Frazier got a job at the slaughterhouse. Although the job paid well enough, he "hated being ordinary."
At 17, he spied a glimpse of a larger destiny at a boxing gym, this one run by the police. By the age of 20, he had won the Olympic heavyweight championship in 1964....
(Excerpt) Read more at wnd.com ...
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Cain has nothing on Frazier.
Nice article by Jack. I’m going to Kindle “Sucker Punch” tonight.
As a native Philadelphian, that stupid Rocky statue in front of the art museum galls me to no end. If anyone deserves a statue in that city, it’s Frazier.
RIP, Smokin’ Joe.
Too late now.
One reason I always liked Joe Frazier was he never ran down his opponent. He recognized that anyone able to get in the ring and compete deserved respect. Another reason I liked Frazier is the same reason I like Pacqiao, Angulo, and Rios, among others, is you always knew where you would find them - right in front of their opponent throwing punches.
Ali was our present day Mayweather. Talented, fast, very good defense, limited power and a big crude mouth.
I was in high school during this era and was totally unaware of the undercurrents apparently happening in the black community regarding Frasier and Clay/Ali. Looking back, it seems quite ridiculous. To me, Clay/Ali was a loud mouth with great footwork, fast hands, a phantom punch, and a loud mouth. Smokin Joe was very strong, very tough, and a brutal puncher. My favorite, then and now, was Smokin Joe Frasier, the heavyweight champion of the world, in the ring and out of the ring. They don’t make them like Joe any more and he will be greatly missed.
Cashill’s “Sucker Punch” is a great history of contemporary American boxing, only with great political insights. I loved it. Reminded me of the nights back in the 50’s when my Mom was away visiting her sister and my Dad had me and my two brothers on the living room floor watching the Friday night fights, scoring each round until we fell asleep. It was so cool.
This article prompted me to find the fight on YouTube. I’d never seen it before, way before my time. It’s a thing of beauty. Frazier’s a marvel to watch. He’s just relentless, burrowing in under Ali’s long reach, seemingly impervious to the pounding he’s taking, always attacking. Knowing the backstory makes it all the more enjoyable. This Fifth Round has me literally cheering Frazier on.
I’ve been around the fights a little bit, I’ve never seen anything close to this caliber. You’re lucky to have lived this this era of boxing. Awesome stuff.
Amen. Couldn't agree more.
I was young (teenager) when Frazier beat Ali.
I became more involved in boxing when my son started boxing. I have respect for any boxer willing to get in the ring. It is such a tough sport. I didn't like Ali, with his big mouth, when I was young and think even less of him now. Ali went out of his way to demean opponents, totally classless.
Same here. I had a connection with one of the big Philly promoters back in the day, so we were able to sit ringside for many a fight at the Blue Horizon and at the Sands down in Atlantic City back in the 80s and 90s. Got to know Meldrick Taylor a little bit too (the Chavez fight still kills me). You watch these guys up close and see what they subject themselves to, you can't help but respect the heck out of them. It got to the point were I'd have butterflies just watching them climb into ring.
I'm sure you know that feeling on a whole other level.
It's a funny story.
My son was in 6th grade and had the worst football coach I've ever seen. So I told him after one practice we normally say you have to finish what you started, but this time it's okay to quit. He said to me if I quit playing football can I box. We went straight from practice to a local gym (David Diaz fought out of it) and he started boxing.
We got home and I told my wife we had good news and bad news. The good news was he was done with football for now (she hated it, typical soccer mom). She was jumping up and down and then realized there was bad news and asked. I said "he's boxing now".
He did pretty well, soph. year he was the state silver gloves champ and lost in the nationals. I think he wanted to stick with it, but his varsity baseball coach told him since it was a sport he was doing outside HS he would have to be at baseball workouts or forget playing baseball. He asked me what he should do and I told him which sport do you like and which sport do you love. He choose baseball.
I really wish more young men got involved in sports that are as emotionally demanding as boxing. I think it teaches perspective and discipline. Our experience traveling to various inner city gyms was great. We were always treated well.
He was like Kelly Pavlik. A tall skinny 1-2 puncher, but he was also a southpaw.
Hope I didn't bore you with the details. It was fun to remember.
Got to know Meldrick Taylor a little bit too (the Chavez fight still kills me). You watch these guys up close and see what they subject themselves to, you can't help but respect the heck out of them.
Man that had to be so great. I'm looking to go to Atlantic City, or Las Vegas, when my son is done with baseball to see a championship fight.
You will be missed.
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