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Smokin Joe Passes Away
Boxing loses a legend
Posted Nov 08, 2011 by Chris White
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Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier has died after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67. Smokin’ Joe was diagnosed with his illness only a few weeks ago, and was receiving care in Philadelphia.
Frazier was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali, back in 1971, but lost the next two of his three epic bouts with the great man. He held the world heavyweight title between 1970 and 1973, and won an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in 1964, having only entered the competition as a last-minute replacement as the original competitor, Buster Mathis – who beat him in the trials – was forced to withdraw through injury.
When Ali was stripped of the world heavyweight title in 1967 for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, Frazier took up the opportunity to win the title and duly beat Jimmy Ellis in New York in 1970 to claim the belt. Three years later, he lost his title to George Foreman.
Despite being a long-term world champion, Frazier was most widely known for his three epic clashes with Ali, including the “Thrilla in Manila” and the “Rumble in the Jungle.” The pair had a love-hate relationship throughout their respective careers, started by taunts from the outspoken Ali in the build-up to their fights. However, the pair were reported to have buried the hatchet in recent years, and Ali has said that “the world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.”
George Foreman took to social networking site Twitter to pay his respects, saying “Goodnight Joe Frazier. I love you dear friend.”
The current WBC world welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr also went online with his thoughts, saying “RIP Smokin’ Joe. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Frazier family. We lost an all-time great.” Similarly, Oscar de la Hoya posted “I will miss you my friend. RIP Joe Frazier.”
Manny Pacquiao was equally respectful for Frazier, saying “Boxing lost a great champion, and the sport lost a great ambassador.”