Tributes from across the world of boxing have been paid to former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, who and succumbed to liver cancer at age 67, passing away peacefully at his home in Philadelphia on November 7, 2011, Pennsylvania.
Frazier’s family issued a public statement: “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.”
Muhammad Ali, whose bouts with Frazier entered the halls of boxing legend 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.”
In Scotland, former lightweight world champion Jim Watt said Frazier’s death was a “huge loss” and he was “deeply shocked” to hear the news of Frazier’s death.
Jim Watt: “His legacy will live on. When people are asked to list the top six boxers of all time, his name will be among them. He was a great fighter and a great man, and he will be remembered forever for the trilogy of fights he had against Ali. Those fights showed everything that’s good about boxing; great skill, greater courage and the incredible will to go on.”
Boxing promoter Tommy Gilmour, of the St Andrew’s Boxing Club, said: “Joe Frazier was simply a legend. He was an iconic figure and his fights with Ali from Madison Square gardens to the Thrilla in Manila will go down among the greatest fights of all time. The thing about that whole era was that those fighters did not duck anybody, and to be the greatest you had to beat the greatest. Frazier did that when he defeated Ali. I don’t think we’ll ever see his like again as things have changed so much.”
Frazier, nicknamed ‘Smokin’ Joe was a giant of the ring – few boxers in the world could last long against one of the most formidable world heavyweight champions in history. He won Olympic gold in 1964 – Frazier later revealing he had continued fighting on through to the final after breaking his thumb in the semi-final.
He won the heavyweight title in 1970 against Jimmy Ellis stopping him in the fifth round at Madison Square Garden.
Frazier is best remembered for his fights against boxing legends Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Frazier beat Ali on points in the “Fight of the Century” in 1971, but lost in two further fights, most notably in the epic 1975 “Thrilla in Manila”.
He lost to powerhouse Foreman twice in technical knockouts in 1973 and 1976 – retiring after losing the rematch against Foreman.
Foreman tweeted his goodbye: “Good night Joe Frazier. I love you dear friend.”
Frazier later became a respected and prominent figure on the after-dinner speaking circuit, and ran a boxing gym where he trained young fighters.