Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion warmly known as “Smokin’ Joe,” died yesterday at the age of 67. The hard-hitting boxer had been battling with liver cancer, which his family says he was just recently diagnosed with in September. After his diagnosis, Frazier was placed in hospice care. His family issued the following statement about his death:
“We The Family of … Smokin’ Joe Frazier, regret to inform you of his passing. He transitioned from this life as ‘One of God’s Men,’ on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Frazier was a two-time heavyweight champion known for his deadly left hook and the pressure he put on his opponents with his grunts and bobbing and weaving. But what Frazier is most known for other than his legacy in the boxing ring in general is his three big bouts with Muhammad Ali. In their first big fight, known as “The Fight of the Century,” Frazier beat Ali after 15 brutal rounds, handing him his first professional loss and a severely bruised jaw in the process. It would also start something of a battle royale, as the two would meet again in 1974 where Ali would best the big guy making it 1-1. They would meet once again and one last time for the iconic “Thrilla in Manilla” match in ’75. Ali won in the tough contest, but called it his hardest fight ever. According to CNN, Ali says battling with “Smokin Joe” was “…the closest I’ve come to death.” After hearing news of the death of perhaps his biggest rival (in a friendly sport way), Ali issued a statement:
“The world has lost a great champion.” “I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”
Fans from all over have posted on social media expressing their grief over the superstar’s death. Fans including folks like Floyd Mayweather, who hit Twitter to say that he would like to pay for Frazier’s funeral. The former heavyweight boxing champ who influenced so many will definitely and retired in ’76 with a whopping record of 32-4-1, will definitely be missed. R.I.P. Joe Frazier!
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