Smokin Joe Dies. Joe was a phenomenal fighter. Bravery beyond belief. Ali _ Frazier _ Foreman. God bless you.

BOXING: JOE FRAZIER, the relentless slugger who became the heavyweight
champion of the world and earned boxing immortality with three epic
battles against Muhammad Ali, died on Monday at age 67.

“Smokin’ Joe” Frazier, who was the first boxer to beat Ali, died in
Philadelphia a month after being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Frazier won the Olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal for the United
States in 1964 in Tokyo and held the world heavyweight boxing crown
from 1970 to 1973.

He is eternally linked with Ali thanks to their trilogy of fights in
the 1970s, among the most famous in the history of the sport. Frazier
won the first and Ali took the next two.

“The world has lost a great champion,” Ali said in a statement on
Monday. “I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My
sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”

Promoter Don King who put on the famous “Thrilla in Manila” fight
between Frazier and Ali, said: “Smokin’ Joe Frazier was the embodiment
of what a great heavyweight champion and person should be. He was a
great gladiator.

“The courage Smokin’ Joe showed in The Thrilla in Manila – answering
every Ali onslaught with an equally withering response – will remain
in the hearts and minds of boxing fans around the globe forever.”

It was one of the most dramatic fights in history. The brutal
encounter left both men hospitalised. Frazier later lost his title in
1973 to hard-hitting George Foreman.

According to former heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson, “Frazier
and Ali were quintessentialy the apex of pedigree fighting in which
each man would not give an inch until they were dead. Their era was
competitive fighting at the highest level. As a young fighter it has
always been an honour to be compared to Frazier.”

British fighter Joe Bugner, who lost to Frazier five months after
being beaten by Ali in 1973, told BBC Radio 5:

“You literally had to hit him with a sledgehammer to put him away. Joe
took everything away I thought I had and made me realise I needed
more. If I was going to succeed I needed a lot more. It hit me like a
lightning bolt when I heard he died.”

Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis said: “I am extremely
saddened at the news of the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. He made
history in the greatest era ever of heavyweight boxing and his
contributions to the sport are profound and immeasurable.”