Frazier falls to cancer at 67

2011-11-08 06:39

Philadelphia - Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion who handed Muhammad Ali his first defeat yet had to live forever in his rival's shadow, died Monday after a brief final fight with liver cancer. He was 67.

Health feature: Liver cancer explained

The family issued a release confirming the boxer's death.

Frazier, who took on Ali in three momentous fights in the 1970s — including the epic "Thrilla in Manilla" — had been under home hospice care after being diagnosed with the cancer just weeks ago, a family friend said.

Until then, Frazier had been doing regular autograph appearances, including one in Las Vegas in September.

Smokin' Joe was small by heavyweight standards, yet a ferocious fighter who smothered his opponents with punches, including a devastating left hook he used to end many of his fights early.

It was the left hook that dropped Ali in the 15th round at Madison Square Garden in 1971 to seal a win in the so-called "Fight of the Century."

Though he beat Ali in that fight, Frazier lost the final two and for many years was bitter about the role Ali forced him to play as his foil.

More recently, he said he had forgiven Ali for repeatedly taunting him.

While the "Fight of the Century" is celebrated in boxing lore, Ali and Frazier put on an even better show in their third fight, held in a sweltering arena in Manila as part of Ali's world tour of fights in 1975.

Nearly blinded by Ali's punches, Frazier still wanted to go out for the 15th round of the fight but was held back by trainer Eddie Futch in a bout Ali would later say was the closest thing to death he could imagine.

Frazier won the heavyweight title in 1970 by stopping Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round of their fight at Madison Square Garden.

Frazier defended it successfully four times before George Foreman knocked him down six times in the first two rounds to take the title from him in 1973. Frazier would never be heavyweight champion again.

He was diagnosed last month with cancer, his personal and business manager said.

Leslie Wolff, who has been Frazier's manager for seven years, said the boxer had been in out and out of the hospital since early October and receiving hospice treatment the last week.


  • Thabo - 2011-11-08 07:06


  • Joe - 2011-11-08 07:27

    Respect. Never was a fan of boxing until I started watching fights with frazier and co on espn classic

  • George - 2011-11-08 07:31

    That is why i never go to the gym, death and old age do not discriminate. There are thousands of people who reach the age of 85 without ever going to the gym. look at the Mugabe next door. How unfair.

      ryan.macdougall - 2011-11-08 10:06

      Yeah i agree with Jaco. By gyming you look better, thus feel better , higher self confidence, date hotter girls. Basically no noe wants to date a fatty.

  • MarkSchrade1980 - 2011-11-08 07:54

    R.I.P. Smoking Joe Frasier!!!!!

  • Alan - 2011-11-08 07:57

    What a sad loss

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

    Heartbreaking... RIP Smokin' Joe, you were a man in an era of men

  • Kgopotso - 2011-11-08 08:50

    RIP Joe Frazier..You are legendary

  • Matthew - 2011-11-08 08:54

    I thought Kelsey Grammar was dead.

      Dalai - 2011-11-08 09:02

      No. It's still arrive (sic). Now concentrate on your work!

  • Bob - 2011-11-08 09:03

    Very sad, one of the legends of the sport, RIP Joe you were one of the best.

  • Christo - 2011-11-08 09:05

    He was just pure class! He was a fighther that even Ali hailed as a hero!

  • Deon - 2011-11-08 10:21

    This (Cancer) is one disease that no one can stop wether you are rich or poor. RIP.

  • Trevor - 2011-11-08 10:35

    they definatelty dont make boxers like that anymore RIP Smokin Joe

  • steve.luckie - 2011-11-08 10:43

    Among the colorful lines I heard live from Joe Frazier was this banter he was exchanging with Muhammad Ali after Joe beat Ali in 1971. Apparently there had been trash talk going on in the ring as they fought. Says Joe: I think the guy (Ali) is a bit sick in the head. Each time he threw a combination of punch he was like "Don't-you-know-I-am-god". I (Joe) said to myself, well god, you are going to get a whipping tonight" Gentleman ,honest fighter , brave and strong .These are the qualities of Smoking Joe .You will be remembered just like the famous Joe louis the bomber. My respect to your bereaved family .Rest in peace .

  • lance.trent.kilkenny - 2011-11-08 11:00

    Will always remember........... Smokin Joe Frazier!!!

  • Sihle - 2011-11-08 12:03

    legengs have to rest too.RIP smoking trully were one of the best to eva step in the square ring

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