Joe Frazier was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1944. He was the 13th of 14 children born to Rubin and Dolly Frazier. He left school at 13 to become a mule driver, and later, a butcher's apprentice in Philadelphia. It was here that he took up boxing. When he was only 20 years old, Frazier won a gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, knocking out 3 of his 4 opponents.
In 1965, Frazier turned professional, and won his first 19 fights, 17 of them by knockouts. He became New York Heavyweight Champion in 1968 by knocking out Buster Mathis. He went on to win the World Heavyweight title in 1970 when he beat Jerry Ellis, retainng it the same year by knocking out Bob Foster.
Joe Frazier fought Muhammad Ali for the first time at Madison Square Gardens on March 8th 1971. He beat Ali on points after knocking him to the floor in the 15th round. Frazier successfully defended his World Heavyweight title twice in 1972, firstly against Terry Daniels in New Orleans, and later against Ron Stander in Omaha.
1973 saw Frazier lose his World Title when he suffered a 2nd round knockout against George Foreman, who had floored Frazier 5 times before the knockout punch!
It was downhill for Frazier's boxing career after this as Muhammad Ali beat Frazier twice - in 1974 and again in 1975, a fight that Ali called the 'thrilla in Manilla'! George Foreman then inflicted a 5th round knockout on Joe in 1976, which led to him retiring from ther ring to manage his boxer son, Marvis.
Frazier, won 32 professional fights, losing 4 and drawing 1. He is often asked why he is nicknamed "Smokin' Joe" and he replies that his manager Yank Durham constantly said, "Come on, Joe, hit them so that your gloves start smoking!"
One of Joe's other sons, Hector, fought as "Joe Frazier, Jnr", whilst his daughter Jackie was also a professional boxer!! As Jackie Frazier-Lyde, her only loss in 14 fights was against Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali's daughter.
Smokin' Joe, Frazier's autobiography, was published in 1996.
I met Joe Frazier at the NEC in Birmingham in November 2006. He signed two large photographs for me. He was very friendly and when I asked him to 'make a fist' for my photo with him, he said he'd never been asked to do that before!
Marvis Frazier with his sister Jackie before her
fight with Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila
Frazier after his fight with Bonavera
Joe Frazier in action against
Huber in the 1964 Olympics
Joe Frazier fights Muhammad Ali in 1974
Joe Frazier is floored by George Foreman in 1973
This is the photo that Joe Frazier signed for me at the NEC
Joe Frazier (1944 - 2011)
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Joe Frazier died on 7th November 2011.
Joe signing one of my photos