I’ve written at length about Joe Frazier in the past and will do so again in the future. For now, a few words on his passing.
Frazier fought with an intensity, determination, and pride seldom seen in the sometimes glorious, sometimes ignominious, history of boxing.
Some fighters try hard until they get hit. Then they stop trying. Joe always kept trying.
As a young man, Eddie Futch sparred with Joe Louis. Later, he trained Frazier. “Anywhere they hit you, you felt it,” Futch said. “When they hit you, it hurt for days.”
Naazim Richardson (like Frazier, a fixture on the Philadelphia boxing scene) later observed, ”The body is different from the mind. Your body would rather lose a fight to Muhammad Ali than win a fight against Joe Frazier.”
On March 8, 1971, Frazier entered the ring at Madison Square Garden for the first of three historic fights against Ali.
“You don’t win fights by talking,” Joe said. “You win fights by fighting.”
Ali’s record was 31-and-0 when he entered the ring, and 31-and-1 when he left it. That night, Frazier became immortal.
“If God ever calls me to a holy war,” Ali said years later, “I want Joe Frazier fighting beside me.”
Joe Frazier ennobled the sport of boxing. He was pure fighter.