Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History was born an African American, South Carolinian man our of the town of Beaufort named Joe Frazier. Frazier went on to become the heavyweight boxing champion, known as “Smokin’ Joe”, and the first boxer to beat Muhammad Ali in what is coined the Fight of the Century in NYC.
Birth and Childhood
Joe Frazier was born into a poor, sharecropper family, to parents named Rubin and Dolly Frazier, on January 12, 1944. Growing up, he’d always had a desire to jump into the boxing ring and win. Boxing was his passion, falling in love with the sport, after his family bought a television where they would watch. Despite the fact that he’d never had any formal training. He would use makeshift boxing bags to practice.
By the time he was 13 years old, he’d already dropped out of school and by the age of 15, decided to flee his home when he could head to New York City. The goal was to find work and escape the racist dangers of the south where he was also not able to earn good money anyway. Life had gotten too risky, so he finally left when he got the opportunity.
Instead of NYC, he ended up working in Philadelphia in a slaughterhouse, practicing boxing on the meat, until he was noticed by a trainer when he was only 17. He trained under Trainer Durham, and he eventually went pro.
Pro Boxing Career
Coming off of Summer Olympics win, investment money to support Frazier began to pour in, allowing him to train full time. In 1965, he went pro and defeated the list of boxers below:
- Woody Goss
- Michael Bruce
- Raymond Staples
- Abe Davis
- Mel Turnbow
- Dick Wipperman
- Charlie Polite
- Don Smith
- Chuck Leslie
- Memphis Al Jones
- Billy Daniels
- Oscar Bonavena
- Eddie Machen
- Doug Jones
- Jeff Davis
- George Johnson
- George Chuvalo
- Tony Doyle
- Marion Conners
- Buster Mathis
- Manuel Ramos
- Oscar Benavena
- Dave Zyglevicz
- Jerry Quarry
- Jimmy Ellis
- Bob Foster
- Muhammad Ali (NY – 1971) *Frazier won*
- Terry Daniels
- Ron Stander
- George Foreman (Jamaica – 1973) *Frazier’s first loss ever*
- Joe Bugner
- Muhammad Ali (NY- 1974) *Frazier’s 2nd loss*
- Jerry Quarry
- Jimmy Ellis
- Muhammad Ali (Philippines – 1975 *Thrilla in Manilla*) *Frazier’s 3rd loss*
- George Foreman (NY)
- Jumbo Cummings
At 27 years old on March 8 1971, Frasier stepped into the ring with Muhammad Ali, who had his championship title taken from him because he refused to go into the Army during Vietnam war. Ali was there to get his champion title back after being jailed for three years, and Frazier was there to keep it.
The boxing battle was long and brutal. It ended in Ali losing against Frazier. This was coined the Fight of the Century because it was between two of the best, and the world watched.
Over his career, he’d fought Ali three times. Two of those times took away from his winning streak. Soon, after fighting George Foreman, he retired boxing to become a trainer, even training some of his children who made boxing their careers. He owned and operated a gym which was named to be one of the National Register of Historic Places. He also founded the Smokin’ Joe Frazier Foundation for underprivileged youth.
Joe Frazier became an author when he wrote Smokin’ Joe: The Autobiography of a Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1996 and then he went on to write Box Like the Pros.
Joe Frazier lived with diabetes and high blood pressure, but what took his life was liver cancer when he was 67 years old on November 7, 2011. He was buried on November 16th in Ivy Hill Cemetery, and his burial site is complete with an erected memorial of him, gloved up and ready for a fight.
Joe Frazier Biography, Biography.com Editors The Biography.com website
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