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

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices