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HALL OF FAME FLIES FLAGS AT HALF-STAFF FOR SMOKIN' JOE FRAZIER
CANASTOTA, NY - NOVEMBER 8, 2011 - The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced its flags will fly at half-staff in memory of heavyweight champion of the world “Smokin’” Joe Frazier. He passed away yesterday. He was 67.
Born in Beaufort, South Carolina on January 12, 1944, Frazier moved north to Philadelphia as a teenager and began boxing in an effort to lose weight. An outstanding amateur, Frazier lost only once, to Buster Mathis in the 1964 Olympic Trials. But Mathis suffered a hand injury and Frazier replaced him and came home from the Tokyo Summer Games with a gold medal. He turned pro in 1965. Wins over noted contenders Oscar Bonavena (W 10), Eddie Machen (TKO 10), Doug Jones (KO 5) and George Chuvalo (TKO 4) propelled him to the top of the rankings. After Muhammad Ali was stripped of the title for refusing induction into the armed services, Frazier was matched against Mathis by the New York State Athletic Commission for its version of the title. Frazier won by 11th round KO and defended the title four times – Manuel Ramos (TKO2), Bonavena (W 15), Dave Zyglewicz (KO 1) and Jerry Quarry (TKO 7) – before stopping WBA champion Jimmy Ellis (TKO5) to unify titles. After his next defense, a 2nd round KO over Bob Foster, Frazier met Muhammad Ali, who had returned to the ring following a three-year exile, in what would become known as “The Fight of the Century” on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. Each fighter was paid the then unheard of purse of $2.5 million. The build up to the fight was unparalleled in boxing history; transcending the sport - and the sporting world. The two waged one of the greatest heavyweight battles ever. In the 15th round, Frazier landed perhaps the most famous left hook in history, catching Ali on the jaw and dropping the former champ for a four-count. At the end of 15 grueling rounds, Frazier got the nod from all three judges and left the ring as the undisputed champ. Frazier reigned as champion until 1973 when he lost the title to Hall of Famer George Foreman (TKO by 2). He met Ali twice more. The rematch again took place at the Garden, with Ali winning the 12 round unanimous decision. Their epic third battle, dubbed “The Thrilla In Manila” took place on October 1, 1975 in the Philippines. After fourteen relentless back and forth rounds, Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, stopped the contest. Frazier retired following a 1976 rematch with Foreman (KO by 5). He attempted a comeback five years later, but drew with Floyd Cummings before hanging up the gloves for good with a record of 32-4-1 (27 KOs). “Behind one of the most devastating left hooks in history, Joe Frazier became an icon in the sport of boxing. From the Olympic gold medal to his legendary reign as world champion, he thrilled fans across the world,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Ed Brophy. ““Without a doubt, boxing fans will recall his heroic efforts in the ring and continue to talk about his legendary battles for many, many years to come.” “The Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning the loss of a legend. Rest in peace ‘Smokin’ Joe.” In 1990, Frazier was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The fight poster from the "Fight of the Century" on the ring apron of the famous Madison Square Garden boxing ring that is on permanent display at the Hall of Fame. Frazier won via 15-round decision.
Below please find photos of Smokin' Joe Frazier taken during his many visits to to the Hall of Fame.
To view larger, please click on each thumbnail