Boxing legend Joe Frazier died on Monday, shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer. The Philadelphia-bred heavy-hitter was 67 years old.
His family released the following statement informing the public of the passing:
"We The Family of ... Smokin' Joe Frazier, regret to inform you of his passing," the statement said. "He transitioned from this life as 'One of God's Men,' on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania."
Muhammad Ali, with whom Frazier had a tumultuous history, also immediately released a statement regarding his friend and longtime rival.
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“The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,” Ali said in a short statement. “My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”
Over the course of a four-year span between 1971 and 1975, Frazier and Ali engaged in three of the most prolific and epic fights in boxing history. Frazier ultimately emerged victorious after the first bout at Madison Square Garden, a vicious battle dubbed “Fight of the Century.” Ali would subsequently win the next two matches, including the third and final one widely recognized as the “Thrilla in Manila.”
In honor of Frazier’s passing, here is the complete video of that first fight between Frazier and Ali, one that set things in motion for the most exhilarating, fascinating and memorable rivalry in sports history.
[Kudos to Deadspin for unearthing this video on Youtube]