Tuesday, November 8, 2011
THE PASSING OF SMOKIN JOE by ST
Beyond the disgust decent people should feel over the Penn State horror, I was able to muster up some sadness over the passing of Joe Frazier. I was an Ali guy, but loved Frazier. The brawler from Philly with the devastating left hook could end a fight in the blink of an eye. Ali had the bicycle. Frazier had the tank. Ali was all over the ring. Joe just moved forward and was willing to take, 2 or 3 or 4 to get his licks in. Though the 3 bouts with Ali were legendary, I'll never forget one of Joe's worst moments. January 22nd, 1973. It was a Friday night. Frazier had defended the title he'd taken in the first Ali fight twice. There was talk of a rematch. As an afterthought Joe was taking on a well known but lightly regarded fighter named George Foreman. Big George had won the gold medal for America in Mexico City in 1978. Famously he waved little American flags in his corner after the victory. Talk about another time. That fight with Foreman was on free TV on Metromedia Channel 5 in the New York City area. My parents were out for the night with friends. My little sister was at my aunt & uncles in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. I was home alone watching the fight. Three words from announcer Howard Cosell ring enternally. "Down Goes Frazier". The loss to Foreman set up the 2nd Ali fight for the right to face George for the title. Ali nearly kayoed Frazier in the 2nd round, but ended up taking a unanimous decision. Then we got the "Rumble in the Jungle" where Muhammad stunned Foreman via the "rope a dope". That brings us to "The Thrilla in Manilla". Frazier/Ali III. Those two guys nearly killed each other. Two incredible warriors whose lives were inseparable. Sadly Ali would be diagnosed with Parkinson's. Frazier died at 67 in hospice care of liver cancer. They ignited sports fans over that incredible period from the first fight on March 8th, 1971 until the finale on the 1st of October in 1975. RIP Smokin Joe.