"Joe Frazier, the relentless slugger who became the heavyweight champion of the world and earned boxing immortality with three epic battles against Muhammad Ali, died on Monday at age 67, his personal manager said.
"Smokin' Joe" Frazier, who was the first boxer to beat Ali, died in Philadelphia a month after being diagnosed with liver cancer. Leslie Wolff, Frazier's personal manager, confirmed his death.
Frazier won the Olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal for the United States in 1964 in Tokyo and held the world heavyweight boxing crown from 1970 to 1973..."
Growing up in Philadelphia in the 1970s, my house was in Joe Frazier's corner when these boxing matches were held.
I asked my Dad, who was a big boxing fan, why he wasn't rooting for Ali, who was so cool and fast and funny and always on TV... my Dad's answer was..."He's a big mouth and a show off."
The ultimate sign of respect from my Dad was when he thought a television event was so important he would bring the portable TV downstairs into the pizza parlor at night... The network premier of In Harm's Way couldn't be missed... a Phillies pennant game couldn't be missed... The Flyers playing the Russians couldn't be missed... a Joe Frazier fight couldn't be missed.
Joe Frazier will be missed, by boxing fans, by Philadelphia and even by Muhammad Ali... who wouldn't be who he was if Joe Frazier wasn't there, too.