Legendary Heavyweight Boxer Joe Frazier (January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011)

Yesterday night was a very sad day for sports, specifically boxing. We lost Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who was a spectacular fighter back when truly explosive rivalries existed within the sport. His confrontations with Muhammad Ali in the 70’s were bigger then than any LeBron vs. Kobe or MMA riff raff of today.

Frazier was a people’s champion, an Olympic gold medalist with a rugged quiet charm and the fiercest left hook you can imagine. The insults he took from Ali were horrendous, something you never saw in 2001’s Ali, starring Will Smith, with James Toney portraying Joe Frazier.

Ali’s racist jabs almost hit harder than anything in the ring, especially during their 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” fight in the Philippines, which Ali won after 14 strenuous rounds. Frazier, in all his brilliance, did defeat his rival (they both lost only four fights in their entire career) earlier, in 1971. Smokin’ Joe could wear Ali out like no one else.

Frazier, an international and world Boxing Hall Of Fame inductee, lost his short battle with liver cancer at the age of 67 at a hospice center in his native Philadelphia on November 7th.

Standing a mere five feet and eleven inches, at just over 200 pounds, Frazier had more heart than nearly every athlete I can think of. His record (32-4-1) proves it, and his legacy in general as one of the best boxers of all time can not go unnoticed.

Especially not to me, as I became very attached to him many years after his career ended. You know when you’re just watching a documentary, and you see a man’s story jump out at you like that, it’s really something special. I only wish I had been around when the simple brutality of boxing was bigger than football or Chuck Liddell.

These skinny tattooed mixed martial arts meat puppets, wrapping their legs around each other’s heads simply cannot compare to a good old-fashioned powerhouse punch to the body or head. (Be sure to tune into the Pacquiao/Marquez fight, to relive some of that Rocky spirit)

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