Ex-heavyweight champ Joe Frazier has died
Late Monday night, the family of Smokin’ Joe Frazier issued the following statement on the death of the former heavyweight champion to Action News:
“We The Family of the 1964 Olympic Boxing Heavyweight Gold Medalist, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame Member Smokin’ Joe Frazier, regrets to inform you of his passing. He transitioned from this life as “One of God’s Men,” on the eve of November 7, 2011at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We thank you for your prayers for our Father and vast outpouring of love and support.
Respectfully, we request time to grieve privately as a family. Our father’s home going celebration will be announced as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding. “
He beat Muhammad Ali in the Fight of the Century, battled him nearly to the death in the Thrilla in Manila. Then Joe Frazier spent the rest of his life trying to fight his way out of Ali’s shadow.
That was one fight Frazier could never win.
He was once a heavyweight champion, and a great one at that. Ali would say as much after Frazier knocked him down in the 15th round en route to becoming the first man to beat Ali at Madison Square Garden in March 1971.
But he bore the burden of being Ali’s foil, and he paid the price. Bitter for years about the taunts his former nemesis once threw his way, Frazier only in recent times came to terms with what happened in the past and said he had forgiven Ali for everything he said.
Frazier, who died Monday night after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67, will forever be linked to Ali. But no one in boxing would ever dream of anointing Ali as The Greatest unless he, too, was linked to Smokin’ Joe.
“You can’t mention Ali without mentioning Joe Frazier,” said former AP boxing writer Ed Schuyler Jr. “He beat Ali, don’t forget that.”