Smokin’ Joe: The Embodiment of Pugilistic Gallantry

Joe Frazier: A Legend & A Symbol

Reaction within the wider boxing community to the sad news that legendary former heavyweight champion of world “Smokin” Joe Frazier is under the care of a hospice as he battles liver cancer reiterated just what a uniquely galvanizing; universally admired figure & singularly potent collective memory of pugilistic gallantry the young, swarming Frazier has seamlessly evolved into. The sport will struggle to produce another figure as respected as the Philadelphia native.

Joe Frazier contested three of the most famous bouts in the history of the sport of boxing against Muhammad Ali. Their 1971 Fight of the Centuryat Madison Square Garden was watched by an estimated 300 million people worldwide.

“The Vietnam War stopped for several hours so the military could listen,” said Leslie Wolff, Frazier’s business manager. “Troubles between the Protestants and Catholics in Belfast stopped so the Irish could see it. This man is an important figure in history.”

Joe Frazier had won the world heavyweight title in 1970 by defeating Jimmy Ellis by fifth round stoppage (also) at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Smokin’ Joe defended his title four times (including against the previously undefeated Champion in exile Ali) before Big George Foreman violently & brutally extricated the belt from him by 2nd Round knock out in Jamaica in 1973. Joe Frazier would never again hold the heavyweight championship of the world; though continued to be a pivotal figure in the division for much of the remainder of what is universally held as a golden decade for boxing’s most high profile weight class.

British boxing promoter Frank Warren managed to neatly summarize the collective feelings of the sport as a whole when he said, “He’s one of the greatest fighters of his generation and one of the best heavyweights in history. It’s a sad thing and I know everyone in boxing will be wishing him well.”

Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting.

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Matt Hamilton on Boxing @ ESNewsReporting

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