Joseph William Frazier (January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011), nicknamed "Smokin' Joe", was an American professional boxer who competed from 1965 to 1981. He reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1970 to 1973, and as an amateur won a gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Frazier was known for his sheer strength, durability, formidable punching power, and relentless pressure fighting style.
Frazier emerged as the top contender in the late 1960s, defeating opponents that included Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo, and Jimmy Ellis en route to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 1970, and followed up by defeating Muhammad Ali by unanimous decision in the highly anticipated Fight of the Century in 1971. Two years later, Frazier lost his title when he was defeated by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Ali and beating Quarry and Ellis again.
Frazier's last world title challenge came in 1975, but he was beaten by Ali in their brutal rubbermatch, the Thrilla in Manila. He retired in 1976 following a second loss to Foreman. He made a comeback in 1981, fighting just once before retiring. The International Boxing Research Organization rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time. In 1999, The Ring magazine ranked him the eighth greatest heavyweight. He is an inductee of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Frazier's style was often compared to that of Henry Armstrong and occasionally Rocky Marciano, dependent on bobbing, weaving and relentless pressure to wear down his opponents. His best known punch was a powerful left hook, which accounted for most of his knockouts. In his career he lost to only two fighters, both former Olympic and world heavyweight champions: twice to Muhammad Ali, and twice to George Foreman.
After retiring, Frazier made cameo appearances in several Hollywood movies, and two episodes of The Simpsons. His son Marvis became a boxer—trained by Frazier himself—but was unable to match his father's success. His daughter Jackie Frazier-Lyde also boxed professionally. Frazier continued to train fighters in his gym in Philadelphia. His later years saw periodic insults and bitter feelings towards Ali, interspersed with brief reconciliations.
Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011 and admitted to hospice care. He died of complications from the disease on November 7, 2011.
He is also known as Joseph William Frazier.
Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011. By November 2011, he was under hospice care, where he died on November 7. Upon hearing of Frazier's death, Muhammad Ali said, "The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration." Frazier's private funeral took place on November 14 at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia and in addition to friends and family was attended by Muhammad Ali, Don King, Larry Holmes, Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman, among others. He was later buried at the Ivy Hill Cemetery, a short drive from the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.