Boxing legend Joe Frazier has passed away. He was suffering from liver cancer that had been diagnosed as recent as last September. Far into his old age he kept running a boxing gym in Philly, stating in an interview with CNN in 2009 “The kids is tomorrow. And if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do for them now, how are you going (to) expect them to carry on?” But everyone with even a slight affinity for the sport will undoubtedly remember his fights with Muhammad Ali, as the two champions went toe-to-toe several times, and there really was no opponent who could ever inspire so much fight in Ali as Joe Frazier did. The first of their three bouts went to Frazier but it was their rematch in The Phillipines that came to be known as “The Thrilla In Manila” that would impact the world like a true clash of the titans, and I mean that in the literal Greek mythology Titans sense of the word.
Ali eventually won the fight, but while he had bad-mouthed Frazier (much to his opponent’s chagrin) incessantly before it he had nothing but praise afterwards. His first reaction after the match was a typical Ali boast of having proven to be the greatest in the world, but the visibly shook and heavily breathing Ali had to admit that Smokin’ Joe Frazier definitely was the second greatest. The sheer epicness of the battle almost dwarfs the matter of who actually won it, simply staying on your feet in a fight like this is a moral victory in itself, but Joe Frazier did more than that. Eddie Futch, Frazier’s trainer, stopped the fight after the fourteenth round and Ali later admitted his corner was considering the same at that time, as he was closer to dying than he had ever been. Futch his decision seems the only rational one anyone could’ve made at the time since Frazier’s eyes were so swollen they couldn’t have been of any use anymore in another round. Both fighter’s supreme techniques, willpower and stamina made them reach for the depths of their skill, resulting in what is still the single greatest boxing match the world has ever seen.
Muhammad Ali has released an official statement that we can only wholeheartedly agree with: “The world has lost a great champion, I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”