PHILADELPHIA (WKTV) – Former boxing heavyweight champion Joe Frazier passed away Monday night in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Frazier was an amateur boxing champion, Olympic Gold Medal winner and undisputed Heavyweight Champion. He possessed one of the greatest left hooks in the sport. He is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota. Despite all that, Joe Frazier will forever be noted in boxing history for a trilogy of fights against Muhammad Ali.
The heavyweight belt was on the line in two of the three bouts, both considered among the greatest heavyweight championship fights of all time. Frazier won the first of the three, the “Fight of the Century” on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Frazier became the first man to beat Ali in the ring.
Joe Frazier came to Utica in October, 1976. Joe was working with a young heavyweight, Duane Bobick, who fought Chuck Wepner at Utica College, a fight that was televised on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”. Frazier’s visit came at a unique time.
Two days before the Bobick – Wepner fight, Joe’s most famous opponent, Ali, completed his own trilogy with Ken Norton. The day after Ali – Norton III, at Yankee Stadium, Ali announced that he was retiring from boxing. That didn’t stick. Frazier was staying at the Holiday Inn on Genesee Street, where the parking lot next to the Stanley is located.
When asked about the Ali announcement, Joe was not interested in what Ali did. That night, Joe Frazier went out on the town in Utica. He stopped by Dishavio’s on Genesee Street, where the 257 Steakhouse had been located. Joe got on the stage at the club and sang a few songs.
Ali – Frazier III, the “Trilla in Manilla”, is regarded by many boxing experts as the greatest heavyweight championship fight of all time. It was an incredible slugfest in which Ali defended his title. For 14 brutal rounds, Ali and Frazier exchanged vicious punches. Joe’s handlers would not allow him to leave his corner to answer the bell for the 15th and final round. Frazier, true to his spirit, protested.
Joe was involved with the boxing careers of two of his children, Marvis, who fought Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, and daughter Jacqui, who lost to Laila Ali in a bout at the Turning Stone Casino.
Joe Frazier had liver cancer. He was 67 years old.