Smokin’ Joe is dead. A son of South Carolina, Joe Frazier made the bright lights and the big city in Philadelphia his home for the past four plus decades as a fighter and ex-fighter.
Frazier was a great fighter, feared by all.
Forever linked with Mohammed Ali, Frazier played the unwitting boob to Ali’s quick tongue and even quicker hands. Ali mocked him, berated him, and humiliated him, and eventually, diminished him as a man.
Frazier’s only sin was beating Ali in 1970 during Ali’s comeback. The country was divided and Frazier represented the “dumb” establishment, while the cocky, ambitious Ali took up the case of the young, progressive part of society.
To be caught up in that mess was unfair to Frazier. He was a decent man who was unprepared for what lay in front of him. Eventually, Frazier found solace in the bottle, and eventually, liver cancer beat him.
Frazier never found the glory of Ali, never walked the steps of Atlanta to light the Olympic flame, never met with leaders of other countries. And yet, he will always be measured against Ali.
What a shame.