“He’s in serious shape, we’re looking for a miracle,” a source close to the former heavyweight champ told the New York Post. “They’re only giving him a short time to live. We need to have as many people as possible praying for Joe right now.”
The 67-year-old Philadelphia native brought a rough, street-educated toughness to the ring, complimenting his aggression with a left hook, widely regarded as one of the strongest in the history of the sport.
Frazier is best known for his series of wars with Muhammad Ali that not only defined the heavyweight division, but transcended the sport and became part of the world’s cultural dialogue. An estimated 300 million people, via closed circuit, saw Frazier decision Ali in defense of his heavyweight title in their 1971 first bout at Madison Square Gardan, labeled “The Fight of the Century.” Ali would take the following two bouts in the series, engaging in all-out wars at Madison Square Garden and Manilla, The Philippines in 1974 and 1975, respectively.
“Smokin’ Joe,” the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, is a 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist. As a pro, he won the New York State world heavyweight title by beating Buster Mathis in 1968. Five fights later in 1970, he won the more respected WBC and WBA titles by stopping Jimmy Ellis in five rounds. Frazier would make four defenses of those belts before dropping them to George Foreman in 1973.
The Hall of Fame battler would retire in 1981 with a career record of 32-4-1 with 27 KOs.
In recent years, Frazier has operated his inner-city gym in Philadelphia, working with at-risk youth.
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