by Gautham Nagesh
Former heavyweight champ Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed away Monday night at the age of 67 following a bout with liver cancer. The boxing world has lost an icon and half of its greatest rivalry.
I was fortunate enough to meet Frazier during Fight Night at the Washington Hilton almost exactly one year ago. As I mentioned on the radio, it was the one moment of my journalism career when I was completely star-struck. Enough that I set aside professionalism and posed for the photo above, which has since become one of my personal treasures.
Frazier and his tough, blue-collar approach to boxing was the perfect foil to mercurial Muhammad Ali. While Ali was all speed and grace, Frazier was pure power and determination. Few remember that he won the most-anticipated fight of his era, or that Ali called their final bout in Manilla the closest he’s been to death. Frazier’s name will endure as a symbol of when the sport reached its zenith; it is unlikely another heavyweight will ever deliver the left hook with such power and ferocity.
I stopped by NPR headquarters this morning to discuss Frazier’s passing on “Tell Me More” with host Michel Martin and Sugar Ray Leonard; the audio should be posted here around 3pm.
In the meantime, enjoy some of the better remembrances available on the Web after the jump: