Boxing Great Joe Frazier Dies at 67 of Cancer

Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight boxing champ who died of liver cancer on Nov. 7 at 67, won’t go down in history as the greatest fighter of all time. Muhammad Ali, the man with whom Frazier sparred so epically, both inside and outside the ropes, owns that distinction. Frazier’s role in his rival’s outsize life will always define his own legacy: it’s impossible to mention “Smokin’ Joe” without summoning Ali a few seconds later.

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Philadelphia, PA...

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

But if Ali defined Frazier, well, Frazier made Ali too. If not for Frazier’s greatness — his left hook crumbled opponents, and he defended his heavyweight title four times from 1970 to ’73 — Ali could never have been called the Greatest. And though the annals of boxing won’t remember him as the better fighter, at times Frazier could be the bigger man.

Joe Frazier grew up in Beaufort, S.C., where he was raised in a four-room shack on a farm, the second youngest of 13 children. He threw his first punches against a feed bag stuffed with rags, hung from an oak tree. Frazier told his siblings he’d be the next Joe Louis. “I’d hit that heavy bag for an hour at a time,” he once said. “I’d wrap my hands with a necktie of my Daddy’s, or a stocking of my Momma’s or sister’s, and get to it.” At school, kids would give him a quarter or a sandwich to walk with them as a repellent against bullies. The day before Frazier’s death, Ali said in a statement: “My family and I are keeping Joe and his family in our daily prayers. Joe has a lot of friends pulling for him, and I’m one of them.” Frazier lost this last fight. But in so many others, he thrilled the world. For more information check out the full article yahoo.com posted here.

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