Ali praying for Frazier

2011-11-07 22:43

Philadelphia - Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, battling advanced liver cancer, is in the prayers of his most famous rival, Muhammad Ali.

"The news about Joe is hard to believe and even harder to accept," Ali said in a statement on Monday. "Joe is a fighter and a champion, and I am praying he is fighting now.

"My family and I are keeping Joe and his family in our daily prayers. Joe has a lot of friends pulling for him, and I'm one of them."

Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer about a month ago. His manager, Leslie Wolff, said on Monday "nothing major" had changed since Sunday.

Frazier has not allowed anyone to see him except his immediate family and associates. "He's in no shape to have any visitors, nor does he want any," Wolff said.

Ali and Frazier fought in a famed trilogy of bouts in the 1970s.

Frazier, now 67, was the first man to defeat the legendary Ali. He took the undisputed heavyweight title with a unanimous 15-round decision over Ali at Madison Square Garden in 1971 in what was dubbed the "Fight of the Century".

Ali, who has been suffering from Parkinson's for more than two decades, won a unanimous 12-round decision in a 1974 rematch. He completed the trilogy with a victory in 1975 at the "Thrilla in Manila" by stopping Frazier after 14 rounds in an epic slug-fest.

A year later "Smokin' Joe" lost for the fourth and final time in his career when George Foreman knocked him down twice before the fight was stopped in fifth round.

Frazier began his career with 29 consecutive wins, taking the heavyweight title in 1970 by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round at Madison Square Garden.

He defended the title four times before running into the bigger and stronger Foreman in 1973, suffering his first defeat and losing the heavyweight crown when he was knocked down six times in two rounds in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Associated Press reports that Frazier sleeps for most the day but is coherent when awake. Wolff, who has been Frazier's manager for seven years, said Frazier had been flooded with get-well messages from former boxers and fans.

"There is evidence that there are certain people that fight much harder than other people, and in doing so, they last longer," Wolff said on Monday. "They have the heart of a champion. Joe ain't no quitter. Even in this struggle, he's showing people you don't give up."

Frazier has been in out and out of the hospital since early October and has been receiving hospice treatment for the past week.

"No matter what happens, we must make sure his legacy stays alive," Wolff said.

The documentary Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears will be shown on Tuesday night at the DocNYC festival in New York.

Wolff said doctors had not told Frazier how long he has to live.

Wolff, who dismissed false reports that Frazier had died, denied a story that he wanted to send Frazier to Russia for treatment. He had contacted doctors there only for ideas for other potential treatments to fight the disease. "We just want to see what's out there to see what can be done here," he said.

Frazier has not allowed anyone to see him except his immediate family and associates. "He's in no shape to have any visitors, nor does he want any," Wolff said.


  • Fred - 2011-11-08 04:17

    Jeez! There is a whole lot of useless praying going on. None of the 4000 gods invented by humans over the ages has ever cured anything, let alone liver cancer. And why would the god Ali is praying to help Frazier but continue to ignore the children in Africa dying of starvation?

      adrian.berghoff - 2011-11-08 08:01

      Shut up Fred.

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