A Salute to “Smokin Joe”

I’d like to take a pause this blog from my normal focus and pay tribute to the legend and former heavyweight boxing champion, Mr. Joe Frazier (1944-2011).  A humble man of Carolina origins, who made Philadelphia, PA his home, he lost his battle to liver cancer yesterday at age 67.  As a child growing up in North Philly, and a boxing fan, I took pleasure walking past the boxing gym he built in my neighborhood and catching glimpses often of Mr. Frazier outside.  He opened his gym to help guide and train local boxers after his boxing career ended; and although that career was stellar, 32 wins (including 27 KOs) and only 4 losses, his light was often dimmed by more charismatic figures, most notably his boxing nemesis Muhammed Ali.  He wasn’t as dynamic or entertaining as a speaker (at least the general public never cast him as such) and subsequently his accomplishments weren’t as celebrated.  Even locally, more Philadelphians currently sing the praises of the fictional “Rocky” character than of  Mr. Frazier.

I won’t dwell on the negativity between the two boxers, because this is a tribute and they have since made amends.  That being said, Muhammed Ali was quoted yesterday as saying “the world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.”  I dedicate the song and link below as a token of my respect and admiration for Mr. Joe Frazier.  Rest in Peace Sir.  Until next thought family, Thomasena.

Black Butterfly (Deniece Williams, Let’s Hear It For The Boy, 1984 Columbia/CBS):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vup_pKX1hOI

9 responses to “A Salute to “Smokin Joe”

  1. Thomasena, how are you? Thank you for this beautiful tribute. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Joe Frazier Gym. He was a legend for Philadelphia and beyond. Sad to hear of his passing, but like you I celebrate his contributions.

    R.I.P. Mr. Frazier

    • Thanks Meka. What’s sad is when we were younger living on 15th street, that gym was hopping. It’s a very sad sight to drive past now. I pray someone restores and it gets landmark status.

  2. I didn’t know much about Joe Frazier but little I heard and read about him in passing. But once moving here and seeing the gym, it made me want to dig a little deeper. It sadden me to see the state the building was in. I wondered why know one took interest in this historic place that was once own by a former heavyweight boxing champion. But reading this post and all of the memories makes you realize his legacy (good or bad) lives on!! Great blog once again and I enjoyed it!!

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