Legendary boxer Joe Frazier died Monday, just months after he was diagnosed with liver cancer, his family said in an official statement.
“We The Family of … Smokin’ Joe Frazier, regret to inform you of his passing,” the statement said. “He transitioned from this life as ‘One of God’s Men,’ on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
Smokin’ Joe, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1944 and started boxing early on. He is a 1964 Olympic Gold Medal winner and is best known his famous boxing bouts with Muhammad Ali in the 1970s, including the “Fight of the Century” where he was one of the first people to ever beat Ali and of course the “Thrilla in Manila”.
During the height of his career, he was unmercifully taunted and disrespected by Ali and in March 2011, he spoke with NY Daily News:
“I forgave him for all the accusations he made over the years. I hope he’s doing fine. I’d love to see him.”
Sadly that reunion will never happen. While reading of the sad news in ESPN, I came across this comment from a reader that said:
Part of Joe’s incredible legacy is you can’t talk about Ali’s without the name Frazier being mentioned… Joe is, and always will be an ICON. RIP Champ.