The City of Brotherly Love pays tribute to Joe Frazier

In March of 2009, Smokin' Joe Frazier was asked by the people of Getty Photos if he was willing to pose for a formal portrait session at the former champ’s boxing gym in North Philadelphia. On March 18, 2009, well known photographer Al Bello was on hand to take those memorable photos.

One of the Philadelphia’s fiercest competitors, Joe Frazier, who spent a lifetime playing second fiddle to his arch nemesis, Muhammad Ali, died November 7, 2011. He was 67.


The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September. All week, the city of Philadelphia has been paying tribute to their hero.

Report from Tim Furlong of NBC Philadelphia Channel 10

Smokin’ Joe Frazier was the first boxer to defeat Ali. The first to put the brash “Louisville Lip” on the canvas with his powerful left hook. It happened on March 8, 1971 during their first fight, the so-called “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden. The fight was considered one of the most epic ring battles of all time. Both fighters were paid an unheard of sum of $2.5 million, far more than any boxer had ever received.

Ali and Frazier would meet twice more after the “Fight of the Century,” and Ali won both, including the finale of their trilogy, the “Thrilla in Manila” Oct. 1, 1975, one of the most brutal bouts in boxing history.

Play VideoFrazier, who made his pro debut in 1965, went almost eight years (29 straight fights) before losing his first fight to George Foreman in 1973.

Promoter Bob Arum remembered the likable Frazier, “He was a real man, a man of his word, a man who never gave less than 100% in the ring.”

Frazier spent most of his years in retirement working with kids in his Philadelphia gym, including two of his own who became boxers, son Marvis and daughter Jacqui. Jacqui went on to become a municipal court judge.

Upon hearing of Frazier’s death on Monday night, Ali said in a statement, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathies go out to his family and loved ones.”

On Friday, November 11, 2011, Frazier’s casket was at the Wells Fargo Center at 3601 South Broad Street in South Philadelphia, so that his family, many local friends and fans could stop and pay their respects.

Ali and Frazier weren’t always at odds. It was Frazier who petitioned President Richard Nixon to have Ali’s boxing license reinstated after Ali refused induction into the Army during the Vietnam war. Frazier also boycotted a heavyweight tournament to crown a new champion after Ali was stripped of his title in 1967.

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