In the boxing world there are key attributes that make a fighter who they are. For Smokin’ Joe Frazier, it was his powerful left hook that was responsible for most of his knockouts. He bobbed and weaved through his opponents, wearing them down with relentless pressure. However, he was very one-dimensional and often had trouble mixing things up.
His strengths made up for his weaknesses as he worked his way to “The Fight of the Century” against Muhammad Ali in 1971. The Heavyweight Championship match that anticipated by all, did not fail to satisfy and Smokin’ Joe came out a Champion. The first three rounds of the brutal fifteen round match were dominated by Ali. As Frazier realized what was on the line, he gave it all he had and dominated the fourth round. Back and forth, both fighters were feeling it by round eleven and it was now a matter of fitness. Frazier, giving it all he had put away Ali in the last rounds and by unanimous decision, retained his title also giving his nemesis his first professional loss.
Leading up to this “Fight of the Century”, Frazier defeated Quarry, Bonavena, Mathis, Machen, Jones, and Ellis, making him a contender for the championship. Two years after he defeated Ali, he lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. Pitching a comeback, he defeated Bugner, lost a rematch with Ali, and beat Quarry and Ellis again. His last world title match was in 1975 when he faced Ali once more. This time though, he was defeated in a legendary match known as the “Thrilla Manila”.
Frazier defended his title four times and lost just once on his last defense to George Foreman. He was 4-1 defending his title and 32-4-1 in his career. He attained his nickname from his first trainer, Durham. It originated from the pep talk he would receive in the locker room before the match.
Ringing in at an average 5ft 11inch boxer, Frazier was right along with all the other Champions. Being a little on the short side compared to the other heavyweights, he still could contend with many if not all. He was only defeated by two opponents, and both were heavyweight champions themselves. He fought Ali, where he lost twice and defeated him once, and Foreman, who beat him for the title but gave one hell of a fight.
Joe grew up as the 12th child in a very large family in South Carolina. They would watch boxing matches on TV with the family and one day Joe’s stalky figure caught his Uncle’s eye. Even kids at school would pay him to walk with them to keep the bullies away. From that day on, he would practice on a makeshift bag for hours. After an incident, Joe soon left Beaufort and headed north to New York to stay with his brother. He then quickly took up boxing and was a pure natural.
At the end of his career, he relaxed and trained his son in the gym he owned and managed. He was also in several movies and TV shows while attempting undergoing surgeries due to a car accident. During this time he also gathered some publicity as he and Ali traded blows through media which caught the attention of many. Throughout his career he was also a very popular fighter, gaining the recognition of many fans after defeating Ali in the “Fight of the Century”.
Joe Frazier connects directly with the aspects of Cinderella Man. For Joe and many boxers in the same time period of the book, it was hard to become recognized. Maybe financial situations or even location difficulties, fighters had to go through the whole nine yards to get on the radar. Like Joe and Braddock, they both took advantage of their opportunities and showed the world what they had despite the adversity even at a young age.