The City of Brotherly Love lost one of its heroes with Joe Frazier on Monday after being diagnosed with liver cancer last month, according to a statement made by his family, who named the 67-year-old “One of God’s Men.”
Hailed by Mayor Michael Nutter as “the quintessential Philadelphia boxer,” Smokin’ Joe is known for his famous left hook, which helped him become heavyweight champion against Muhammad Ali in 1971’s “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden. That led to a January 1974 rematch and 1975’s “Thrilla in the Manilla” outside the Philippine capital; Ali won both of them. However, in his statement, the Greatest said “the world has lost a great champion” with whom he has “respect and admiration” for.
In 1976, Frazier finished his career with a 32-4-1 record, but stepped back in the ring for one last fight in 1981 against Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings; it ended with a draw. Since then, Frazier has remained in his hometown as owner of a boxing gym; his sons Joe, Jr. and Marvis, and daughter Jackie Frazier-Lyde had careers in boxing as well.
Though receiving no credit, Smokin’ Joe was one of the inspirations for 1976’s Rocky with Sylvester Stallone as the underdog fighter preparing to go the distance against heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers); Frazier made a cameo appearance.
“Sure. I worked at the slaughterhouse” he said to CNN’s Don Lemon in 2009. “I’m the guy that ran in the streets of Philadelphia.”
Fans can send their thoughts and prayers on Facebook at joefrazierscorner.com