Former heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier dies

 

Joe Frazier, who has died at the age of
67, today received tributes from the two men who helped him define the greatest
era of heavyweight boxing.

It emerged over the weekend that Frazier, the former undisputed world heavyweight champion, was fighting liver cancer and he was reported to be in hospice care.

His family confirmed he had passed away in a statement reported by Philadelphia's WPVI-TV this morning, which read: "We, the family of the 1964 Olympic boxing heavyweight gold-medallist, former heavyweight boxing champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame member Smokin' Joe Frazier, regret to inform you of his passing.

"He transitioned from this life as "One of God's Men", on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We thank you for your prayers for our father and vast outpouring of love and support."

Frazier won Olympic gold in 1964 after going to the Games as a replacement for the injured Buster Mathis, who had beaten him in the trials.

He also won the professional heavyweight title in 1970 by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round at Madison Square Garden and defended it successfully four times.

He is best remembered for his fights with fellow boxing legends Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Frazier beat Ali on points in the so-called 'Fight of the Century' in 1971, but lost in two further meetings including the epic 'Thrilla in Manila' in 1975.

He fought Foreman twice, losing by technical knockout in both 1973 and 1976.

In what is the most storied era in the sport's history, it was Ali, Foreman and Frazier who were its pre-eminent stars.

Today Ali said: "The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.

"My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones."

The pair had an at-times fraught relationship, dating back to taunts Ali directed at his rival in the build-up to their famous trilogy of fights.

But they were reported to have been on better terms in recent years.

Foreman tweeted his reaction to the news, saying: "Good night Joe Frazier. I love you dear friend."

Frazier retired in 1976 after losing a rematch against Foreman, and aborted an attempted comeback five years later after a draw with the unheralded Jumbo Cummings.

Joe Bugner, another star of the heavyweight division in the 1970s, lost to Frazier five months after being beaten by Ali in 1973.

But it was the fight against Frazier, who visited Bugner in Australia for his 60th birthday last year, which the Hungary-born fighter felt was a turning point in his career.

"Joe Frazier was relentless," Bugner told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Here was a man about 5ft 10, he weighed about a stone lighter than myself, but he was so courageous and ferocious, you had to literally hit him with a sledgehammer to put him away.

"In 1973 I was 23 years old. I became a man after that fight because I realised you can't go through a career like boxing without seeing and feeling the power of the greats.

"I happened to have the privilege of fighting Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali and a few others but those two to me were the greatest.

"Joe took everything away I thought I had and made me realise I needed more, if I was going to succeed I needed a lot more.

"I'm so proud I fought him and I'm so proud he came to my birthday last year.

"It hit me like a lightning bolt when I heard he died."

British former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis added on 5 Live: "He definitely was legendary and he made a great contribution to boxing.

"I'm so sad for his family. Nobody likes to hear about great heroes passing on. It's very sad for boxing today."

Vitali Klitschko, WBC champion and brother of fellow heavyweight Wladimir, said Frazier's legacy resonated down the generations.

"He was a huge fighter, huge champion, huge personality," Klitschko, 40, told BBC Radio 5 Live. "We had a chance to see the fights. It was a great lesson for all new generations."

More stars of the sport took to Twitter to share their thoughts, with Floyd Mayweather writing: "RIP Smokin Joe. My thoughts and prayers go out to to the Frazier family. We lost an all time great tonight."

Oscar De La Hoya wrote simply: "I will miss you my friend. R.I.P. Joe frazier", while Shane Mosley added: "Joe Frazier one of the greatest heavy weight champion ever. RIP."

Promoter Frank Warren believes his fights with Ali and Foreman mean Frazier will be remembered as one of the sport's greats.

Warren told 5 Live: "He was part of that era of the best heavyweights there have ever been.

"The trilogy of fights that he had with Muhammad Ali, the tough fight he had with George Foreman and the good wins on the way - he was one of the most exciting heavyweights ever."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot