In an earlier post (“The Prowler – The Beast’s ‘Truth Machine’”) I had referred to a boxing documentary in which sports journalist and boxing commentator Larry Merchant referred to Joe Frazier as a “Truth Machine” because when in the ring with Joe, if you weren’t in shape, he was going to find out – Joe, by virtue of his tenacity, was going to get to the truth.
Sadly, Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion who was the first to defeat Muhammad Ali, died Monday after a brief bout with liver cancer. Smokin’ Joe was 67 years old.
Perhaps best known for his three wars in the ring with Ali, Frazier was small for a heavyweight, weighing just 205 pounds, he was known for his brutal tenacity.
Frazier’s nickname, ‘Smokin’ Joe,’ came from trainer Yank Durham when he used to tell Frazier before a fight, “Go out there and make smoke come from those gloves … Just don’t let up.”
Joe fought every minute of every round going forward behind a vicious left hook, and there were few fighters who could withstand his constant pressure.
“Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man,” Bob Arum told the AP in a telephone interview Monday night. “He’s a guy that stood up for himself. He didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn’t give 100 percent.”
The scenes from the film Rocky where fictional fighter Rocky Balboa punches carcasses of frozen meat and runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art were reportedly taken from Frazier’s real-life training.
The boxing legend will be missed.