I’m certain that you heard the news, but with all the sick / perverted Jerry Sandusky information dominating the headlines, perhaps it didn’t register. Boxing legend Smokin’ Joe Frazier died on Monday night, November 7th, from liver cancer.
He was 67.
Frazier fought during a magical era in time when the heavyweight boxing scene was at the height of its allure and grandeur. We can all thank Smokin’ Joe for his contribution of blood, sweat and tears. Boxing has lost a true warrior who won’t soon be forgotten.
The media isn’t even talking about Sandusky anymore; we’ve already moved on from that self absorbed piece of you-know-what and the legal process hasn’t even started. Sandusky’s fate will now be in the caressing hands of prison inmates. Now we are focused on Joe Paterno’s ousting, his legacy and what happens when life in Mayberry meets the modern world.
One of the ironic things about Frazier is that the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time, something that almost no one disputes, however, there was never a time that he was able to bask in the glory and fanfare with the focus just on him. Muhammad Ali was the darling of that period, an athlete so famous that he comparatively dwarfed the popularity of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, the modern icons we now use as standards; a happenstance that’s made more remarkable because it was pre-cable TV and the internet.
In hindsight it’s easy to see that Frazier and the three matches he had with Ali helped build the legend of “Cassius Clay.” Frazier won the first fight, Ali the second, but it was the third, the Thrilla in Manila that captured the entire world. I can remember as an 8-year old, boys in recess were fighting prior to the event. You were either on Ali’s side or Frazier’s.
Here’s what Ali had to say about The Fight. “Of all the men I fought, Sonny Liston was the scariest, George Foreman was the most powerful, Floyd Patterson was the most skilled as a boxer, but the roughest and toughest was Joe Frazier. He brought out the best in me, and the best fight we fought was in Manila.” Ali said, “It was like death. Closest thing to dying that I know of.”
What’s ironic about Frazier leaving us now is that he still doesn’t get the headlines. The only thing I read about, see or hear is what’s going on in Happy Valley, the legacy of JoePa, how it all ended there and who his successor might be. That’s okay though, because while you can take away Frazier’s headline, you can’t take away his punch, his chin or the memories that he created for a generation. RIP Smokin’ Joe, here’s to knowing that people will be placing roses on your grave and pissing on Sandusky’s.
Joseph William “Joe” Frazier (January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011)
This article is dedicated to the loving memory of my dear friend Robert Steven Tarleton, who was always there for me when I needed him, as he was for so many others. This past week, the world lost one of the most selfless, caring, and generous people to ever grace the earth. If you didn’t know Bob, you haven’t yet met genuine charity. Peace be with you Robert. – PAX
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.