The announcement was only made on Saturday that ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier had been diagnosed with liver cancer four weeks prior and just three days later the boxer’s life has been claimed by the illness.
Philadelphia-native Frazier, who was just 67, faced an impossible battle against the disease after chances to catch the cancer early were missed by previous doctors and by the time it was diagnosed, Frazier was in the latter stages of the cancer.
Frazier won the Olympic gold medal in 1964 before embarking on an illustrious professional career, claiming heavyweight title in 1968 and unifying the title in 1970 to become undisputed champion of the world.
The Beaufort-born fighter held the title for three years until he met his ultimate foe in George Foreman, who would be the only man that Frazier would face and not defeat in his sixteen-year career.
Ultimately though, Frazier will forever be linked in the same breath as the most famous boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, who fought three famous battles with ‘Smokin’ Joe between 1971 and 1975.
The first and the third meeting are recognised as the most memorable as in ‘The Fight of the Century” in 1971, Frazier became the first man in history to beat Ali and ‘The Greatest’ would eventually say that after their third meeting it was “the closest he has come to death.”
The pair were far from friends for many years but eventually acknowledged each other’s achievements and held a deep respect for each other in Joe’s final years.
Joe Frazier will always be up with the greatest fighters of all time for me and was always a gentleman outside of the ring. He gave his adoring fans his devoted time for many, many years before his untimely passing and travelled the world to meet and great as many as he could.
His down-to-earth nature was endearing to all and the sport of boxing mourns the sad loss of a great hero and a real champion today.
My condolences go to Joe’s family at this time of sorrow and he will always be remembered by WBN as symbol of great times in boxing.