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Thread: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

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    Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Hard times, great memories for Joe Frazier

    Joe Frazier spoke with Newsday's Wallace Matthews Thursday, two days before the 37th anniversary of Frazier's epic decision over Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden.
    by Wallace Matthews

    Joe Frazier's moment in time is frozen on the wall behind his head. The famous left hook has found its target, and the target is in that strange half-standing, half-sitting posture that fighters assume when their next stop is the floor.

    The target, of course, is Muhammad Ali. That moment in time, one millisecond pulled out of 45 of the most furious minutes ever fought by two heavyweights, is the reason Frazier is here today, in a luxury apartment 20 stories above downtown Philadelphia, being asked once more to recount an event that took place nearly four decades ago.

    He is only too glad to oblige. "From the time I dusted off The Butterfly," he says, using his faintly derisive nickname for Ali, "life's been good."


    Frazier is 64 years old, a lifelong diabetic and blind in one eye since his youth, a result of cataracts from too many shots to the eyes in the ring. And that was before life really got tough.

    These days, he can't get around without the aid of a walker, can't negotiate the short distance from his apartment door to the elevator without a wheelchair. Still, he says, "The Lord's been good to me."

    He has the pictures of himself dusting The Butterfly, three large black-and-white blowups of that murderous Frazier left hook crashing against Ali's jaw from three different angles. He has a golden medallion around his neck, a many-spiked crown beneath his nickname, "Smoke." He has a few bucks, although probably not as many as he should.

    Most of all, he has the memory of one night, 37 years ago Saturday, on which Joe Frazier, one of 16 children of a migrant worker from Beaufort, S.C., was the most famous and important athlete in the world.

    "That night, I don't think nobody could have beat that man," he says, referring to himself. And he is right. Frazier's gut-busting effort against Ali stands as one of the greatest single performances ever achieved by any athlete in any sport.

    "Sometimes, when things ain't going right for me for a day or two, I watch the fight," he said. "I look at it, and I thank the Lord for what He have done for me, for where He have brought me from. And here I am."

    Unlike so many athletes and entertainers who come to resent their association with a single game, a single song, a single film role, Frazier has come to accept and appreciate that the greatest day of his life occurred on March 8, 1971. "That was my moment," he said. "Where would I be without that?"

    The answer is, probably barely remembered, along with dozens of other champion boxers whose careers were good but not transcendent.

    What Frazier accomplished that night against Ali at Madison Square Garden elevated him to a pantheon inhabited by a select few. Along with other sports icons of his era, the likes of Joe Namath, Tom Seaver and Willis Reed, Smokin' Joe provided us a truly unforgettable New York sports moment.

    "That was a good day," he allowed.

    Joe Frazier hasn't had what most people would consider a good day in six years, since a 2002 car accident outside the gym he owns in North Philadelphia left him with a split spine. On Feb. 20, he underwent 61/2 hours of surgery to remove calcified bone from the area. Just eight days ago, he had yet another operation -- his sixth -- to remove a hematoma that had formed in the wound.

    Frazier got out of the hospital Monday, and after a period of recuperation at home, he faces countless weeks, if not months, of rehabilitation that he hopes will allow him not only to walk but to train once again.

    The man who once began every round by rubbing his gloves together like a hungry man preparing to dig into Thanksgiving dinner is facing this latest test, a tougher challenge even than dusting The Butterfly, with the same kind of determination.

    "I'm not sure if that was the last operation," he said. "But I'll be back in the gym again, hitting the bags, riding the bike. I just can't take too many more beatings."

    Even before the accident, Frazier had taken worse beatings in life than he ever took in the ring. In the past four decades, he has seen his health decline, mostly because of the diabetes and high blood pressure, and much of the fortune he earned in the ring trickle away, in part because of a Bucks County, Pa., land deal that went bad.

    His relationship with his eldest daughter, Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, has deteriorated to the point that she did not know her father had been in a hospital until she was informed by a reporter.

    Instead of living in luxury like Ali and his other contemporaries -- George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton -- the divorced Frazier was living along in an apartment above his gym on a rugged stretch of North Broad Street. According to his representatives, Frazier earns a "six-figure" income through personal appearances and memorabilia signings, but much of his money goes to the support of his family. He has 11 children and 26 grandchildren.

    "You make 'em, take care of 'em," he says. And he does, although according to one source, that care has cost him up to $150,000 a year.

    And Saturday, while many of his peers, including Holmes, Norton, Gerry Cooney, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns, are gathering in Cancun, courtesy of Don King, to witness what passes for a heavyweight title fight these days -- ever heard of Samuel Peter or Oleg Maskaev? -- Frazier will be in his apartment, surrounded by his photographs and comforted by his memories.

    "Remember The Greatest?" he asks, pointing to the photograph above his head. "There he is, on the way down."

    That was Joe Frazier's moment, and 37 years later, it remains bright enough to see him through.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    All feed of the Champ in his Golden years
    But who feeds the Champ when the Golden years are long gone.

    Thanks Bucket
    For the above, made me feel just a little sad though.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    I did not realise Joe had been in a car crash and was having all these operations? The last I saw of him was about 18 months ago when he boxed an exhibition.

    Is he really a life long diabetic?

    The thought of Smokin' Joe in a wheelchair is a mental image I am stuggling with.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Mike DeLisa once told me an amazing story about how he traveled all the way to the New England boon-docks to interview a very old Jack Sharkey alone in a retirement home ... really facinating story but that is DeLisa ... Mike, maybe we should try a trip to Philly for the Board? Let me know .

    HE

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Joe had his moment and he was on that night one great fighter. How can anyone not feel good things for this proud fighter. Always liked him and continue to. I hope and pray he does hit the bag again and train. Why the hell not.....

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    A number of great athletes have diabetes. I have trouble believing Frazier has something other than Type II diabetes (or adult onset diabetes). I think he would have had a hard time getting a license in New York or Pennsylvania if he had diabetes when fighting, especially if he was insulin dependent.

    Anyway, here is a list of famous athletes/coaches with diabetes:

    Wasim Akram - Pakistani cricket fast bowler

    Arthur Ashe - Tennis - Wimbledon winner

    Walter Barnes - Football and actor. Before acting career he played professional football for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, 1948-1951.

    Sarah Bina - Championship clogger

    Ayden Byle - Runner - First insulin-dependent man to run 6521.5 km across North America.

    Nick Boynton - Hockey Player - Boston Bruins

    Bobby Clarke - NHL - Philadelphia Flyers

    Ty Cobb - MLB - Detroit Tigers

    Scott Coleman - Swimmer - first man with diabetes to swim the English Channel, (August 17th 1996)

    Chris Dudley - NBA - New York Knicks center

    James “Buster” Douglas - Heavy Weight Boxer

    Kenny Duckett - NFL - New Orleans Saints

    Rick Dudley - Hockey

    Scott Dunton - World Class Surfer

    Mike Echols - NFL - Tennessee Titans

    Pam Fernandes - Para Olympian

    Curt Frasier - NHL - Chicago Black Hawks

    Walt Frazier - * NBA - New York Knicks

    “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier - Boxing

    Kris Freeman - Olympic and National Champion Cross-Country Skier

    Joe Gibbs - NFL - Washington Redskins coach

    Bill Gullickson - MLB - Cincinnati Reds Pitcher

    Gary Hall Jr. - US Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming

    Jonathan Hayes - NFL - Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs

    Dave Hollins - 1993 Phillies World Series Third Baseman

    James "Catfish" Hunter - MLB - Pitcher, Baseball Hall-of-Famer

    Chuck Heidenrich - Skiing

    Chris Jarvis - World Champion Canadian Rower

    Jason Johnson - MLB - Pitcher, Cleveland Indians

    Kelli Keuhne - LPGA golfer

    Billie Jean King - Tennis

    Jay Leeuwenburg - NFL - Indianapolis Colts Lineman

    Michael Earl Malone -* Son of former NBA star Moses Malone.

    Michelle McGann - LPGA golfer

    Adam Morrison - Basketball Player, Gonzaga University

    David Pember - MLB - Milwaukee Brewers

    Sir Steven Redgrave - Rower - Winner of five consecutive Olympic gold medals

    Dan Reichert - MLB - Kansas City Royals

    Ham Richardson – Tennis star

    Jackie Robinson - Baseball Player

    Sugar Ray Robinson - Boxing

    Ron Santo - MLB - Chicago Cubs legend

    Mike Sinclair - NFL - Philadelphia Eagles

    Kendall Simmons - NFL - Pittsburgh Steelers

    Hank Stram - NFL - Kansas City Chiefs Coach

    Bradley Suttle - Texas Longhorns - Second Baseman

    Bill Talbert - Hall of Fame tennis player

    Sherri Turner - LPGA golfer

    Scott Verplank - PGA golfer

    Jo Ann Washam - LPGA golfer

    David "Boomer" Wells - San Diego Padres Pitcher

    Wade Wilson - NFL - Minnesota Vikings Quarterback

    raylawpc - world-famous cornerman and CBZ message board contributor

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    imo frazier has good reason to be somewhat bitter...

    philly erecting a statue for a made up movie character as oppossed to a proud warrior who held the belt in a great era & always lawfully served his city is a travesty.

    its a slap also to the boxing community itself.

    I like stallone, but I wish he & others w/ clout would push the idea thru the local philly govt.

    Since retiring, Joe didnt leave the city. He maintained a gym & in his best means has tried to pass on his knowledge to the base of the sport in his city. There will always only be 1 smokin' joe... for philly to not find the civic conscience to honor him is a disgrace to the spirit Ben Franklin once planted in the city.

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    I know the Rocky Statue

    Was erected for the Movie Rocky III, but I always did find it strange that the city did decide to leave it up. Is it still up? I thought they took it down recently.

    So many great fighters in the city's rich boxing history and STALLONE has a statue.

    Geez, no wonder, years earlier, Sonny Liston said he'd rather be a Lamp Post in Denver than the Mayor of Philly.

    Hawk

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    Re: I know the Rocky Statue

    Quote Originally Posted by hawk5ins
    Was erected for the Movie Rocky III, but I always did find it strange that the city did decide to leave it up. Is it still up? I thought they took it down recently.
    Did Stallone not pay for the statue himself?

    Makes good sense why the city has it errected. They didn't pay for it.

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    I would assume He did

    Or at least the cost was absorbed as part of Rocky III's budget. Whihc again, may fall under Stallone.

    I fully understand that the charecter has an association with the city. And unfortunately, it spreads a lot broader than any singular Boxer's appeal.

    But just the same. Rocky STILL is a fictious charecter.....And Stallone himself has no ties to Philly, that I know of.

    Hawk

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    For what it's worth, I was 15 when Joe cleared up the heavyweight mess of my generation (a comparatively simple mess compared to now) by beating Jimmy Ellis. Jimmy was doing just fine until Joe turned it all around with one wrecking ball of a left hook. He was my fistic god of the time and I caught hell from my classmates when I backed him against Ali in the Fight of the Century.

    Joe was immensely courageous, half blind all along if we believe the stories, not a fabulous puncher and not as durable as the likes of Dempsey and Marciano. Yet Frazier did it all in spite of that.

    Foreman told me a few years ago, "I was very nervous going into the Kingston fight. I never imagined I'd take Joe Frazier the way I did."

    If Joe were a UK citizen, I'd give the man a frigging knighthood in a flash.

    May your god go with you, Mr F.
    Last edited by mike casey; 03-11-2008 at 12:20 PM.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    It was a prop for a movie. I can understand Frazier's annoyance with the statue. Here's a guy who was not only a world class athlete, but a terrific ambassador for the City of Philadelphia. As far as I know, he gets very little recognition from his own hometown.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Sonny Liston knew how that felt, Ray!

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Mikie
    I am proud to say I caught hell for backing Frazier in that fight also. From the time I saw him against Machen I knew he was made to beat Ali and he did.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Ah, good old street cred - you can't beat it!

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Good for you, Rocky - that makes us two of us at least!!
    Last edited by mike casey; 03-11-2008 at 02:18 PM.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    I live in the Philadelphia area, and the Rocky statue is still around. First they moved it from the Art Musuem steps, and placed it outside the old Spectrum where the sixers and Flyers played. Then they moved it back to the Art Musuem, this time they placed it near the bottom of those famous steps, to the left of the steps, into a grassy area. Some big wig folks wanted to keep it, some others felt the need to trash it, anyway, it is still there for folks to see.

    They had a very awkward reception last year as part of bringing the thing back to the steps, the reception was attended by Stallone as part of advertising the recent installment of that latest Rocky film.

    The whole Rocky fiasco is really weird, it has no symbol other than the first Rocky movie was filmed in Philadelphia. People in Philly felt that movie placed Philadelphia on the map so somehow, some folks in Philly with influence felt Stallone was owed something, and that was why that statue was erected in the first place.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    silk...

    what have you read in the philly papers or have heard from others in the city as to why the city has been so reluctant to honor joe frazier in some form?...

    secondly, is there much push from the grass roots rather in letters to the editor or talk radio etc., in wh/ people of the city have spoken out in re to wanting some symbol of gratitude in place for smokin' joe?

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Hand to mouth to tell you the truth, the city of Philadelphia don't give a shit about Joe Frazier. This particular city has had it's hands full in the last few years with politicians and money laundering, drug dealers conspiring with Mayors and all sorts of things.

    We have what the papers have dubbed "pay to play" culture going on. The former Mayor John Street has had his hands full his last 4 years with his cabinet members doing dirty deeds and selling out the office to contributors, bank managers, believe me it has been a mess around here.

    Many of the mayor's worker's have been ordered to prison on a variety of charges, so when you speak of Joe Frazier, he is the last person that is on the mind's of movers and shakers of Philadelphia.

    Bernard Hopkins after one of his fights while speaking with Larry Merchant had said "the city of Philadelphia should throw me a parade." Having said that, The Mayor organize some bullshit event where Hopkins would have a ticker tape parade of him being in a wagon and being carted down brad street, and all the way into the Mayor's office, upon entering, they gave him some plaque to basically shut his mouth up.

    The whole thing was a sham, especially with Bernard getting out of the wagon at some point in the so called parade, and running down broad streets with every single hanger's on, punks, thieves, and every other bad element you can think of, the Philly police ordered Hopkins back in the wagon to ride or else!!

    Philadelphia could care less about Frazier
    Last edited by silk degrees; 03-12-2008 at 05:21 PM.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Silk, my dear old son, you have admirably summed it all up.

    As a famous Scottisd journalist once said, "Alice, pass the sick bag!"

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Quote Originally Posted by silk degrees
    upon entering, they gave him some plague to basically shut his mouth up.

    Holy Christmas! Thats harsh, they gave the guy the plague just to shut him up???

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Quote Originally Posted by silk degrees
    I live in the Philadelphia area, and the Rocky statue is still around. First they moved it from the Art Musuem steps, and placed it outside the old Spectrum where the sixers and Flyers played. Then they moved it back to the Art Musuem, this time they placed it near the bottom of those famous steps, to the left of the steps, into a grassy area. Some big wig folks wanted to keep it, some others felt the need to trash it, anyway, it is still there for folks to see.

    They had a very awkward reception last year as part of bringing the thing back to the steps, the reception was attended by Stallone as part of advertising the recent installment of that latest Rocky film.

    The whole Rocky fiasco is really weird, it has no symbol other than the first Rocky movie was filmed in Philadelphia. People in Philly felt that movie placed Philadelphia on the map so somehow, some folks in Philly with influence felt Stallone was owed something, and that was why that statue was erected in the first place.
    The Philadelphia art museum is one of the best in the world in some respects.

    It has a huge collection of French impressionist Monet

    and the best collection in the world of American painter Thomas Eakins.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Quote Originally Posted by silk degrees

    Bernard Hopkins after one of his fights while speaking with Larry Merchant had said "the city of Philadelphia should throw me a parade." Having said that, The Mayor organize some bullshit event where Hopkins would have a ticker tape parade of him being in a wagon and being carted down brad street, and all the way into the Mayor's office, upon entering, they gave him some plague to basically shut his mouth up.
    That is terrible.

    How is he doing now?

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    We got the joke the first time

    When Body Blow caught that.

    Hawk

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    What joke? You mean he really didn't get the plague??

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    They Philly Mayor

    doesn't have that power.

    Now if it were Frank Rizzo.......

    Hawk

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    I thought maybe that explained those two losses to Taylor . . .

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    I am truly sorry if you were offended Ted. Please accept my sincere apology to you and any others who were offended by my comment, and my poor attempt at humor.

    Ted, I have deleted the message, and would appreciate it if you would delete your quote of my message.
    Last edited by raylawpc; 03-12-2008 at 03:16 PM.

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    Quote Originally Posted by tedsares
    Unnecessary shot at Sonny IMO.
    I always liked the comment about Liston by Johnny Coulon, former bantamweight champion who had lots of contact with Liston over the years at his Chicago gym.

    In one sentence, Coulon's telling comment says more than pages could.

    Coulon said of Liston,

    "I never heard him say a bad word about anyone else."

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    Re: Hard Times, Great Memories For Joe Frazier

    You guys are killing me here!!!! Hawk I see what you mean by first editing before posting. I feel like Mike Tyson here, I am taking more shots than I can handle!!

    Thanks for all the love though, next time I will get the damn thing right, plaque, plaque, plaque

    Peace

    Silk

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