January 12, 1944 - November 7, 2011
"I HIT HIM WITH BODY SHOTS THAT WOULD'VE BROUGHT DOWN CITIES"
SMOKIN' JOE FRAZIER
Who Was Joe Frazier?
Joe Frazier was the world heavyweight-boxing champion from 1970 - 1973. Frazier is perhaps best remembered for his fearless 15-round match against Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden, known as the Fight of the Century, where he knocked out Ali. In 2011, Frazier passed away from his final fight of liver cancer. Early Years The youngest of 12 children, boxer Billy Joe Frazier was born on January 12, 1944, in Beaufort, South Carolina. His parents, Rubin and Dolly Frazier, were sharecroppers, so the family never had much money. By the age of 15, Frazier, who'd quit school two years before, was on his own. He moved to New York City to live with an older brother and find work. Employment, however, was hard to come by, and to put cash in his pocket he started stealing cars and selling them to a junkyard in Brooklyn. But Frazier harbored dreams of doing something with his life. Many of those dreams were built around boxing. As a younger kid, back in South Carolina, he had dreamed of becoming the next Joe Louis, airing out punches at burlap bags he'd filled with leaves and moss. Up north Frazier's love for boxing didn't subside. After moving to Philadelphia, Frazier found work at a slaughterhouse, where he routinely punched sides of beef stored in a refrigerated room. That scene later inspired Sylvester Stallone for his 1976 film, Rocky. It wasn't until 1961, though, that Frazier entered the ring and actually began to box. He was rough and undisciplined, but his unpolished talent caught the eye of trainer Yank Durham. Professional Career Under the direction of Durham, who shortened Frazier's punches and added power to his devastating left hook, the young boxer quickly found success. For three straight years, he was the Middle Atlantic Golden Gloves Champion, and he captured the gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He turned pro in 1965 and in just under a year had compiled an 11-0 record. In March 1968 he was crowned heavyweight champion, a result that stemmed in part from Muhammad Ali getting stripped of his heavyweight title the year before, after refusing to be drafted.In 1970 Ali successfully sued to get his boxing license back, setting the stage for the sport's highly anticipated matchup between Frazier and Ali.
Joe turned pro in 1965 and in just under a year had compiled an 11-0 record. In March 1968 he was crowned heavyweight champion, a result that stemmed in part from Muhammad Ali getting stripped of his heavyweight title the year before, after refusing to be drafted.