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Philadelphia's Smokin' Joe Frazier Dead at 67
 
  by: iradiotom - Philadelphia, PA
started: 11/08/11 3:36 am | updated: 11/08/11 3:36 am
 
Philadelphia boxing great, Joe Frazier died on Monday after being diagnosed with liver cancer about a month ago. He was 67. Smokin' Joe Frazier won Olympic Gold on his way to becoming one of boxing's all time heavyweight stars. Early in his career, Joe Frazier would train in a Philadelphia slaughterhouse, punching meat like a heavy bag, a workout made famous later in Rocky movies.

Frazier was smaller than most heavyweight but compensated with exceptional strength and stamina. "A kind of motorized Marciano" is how Time magazine described his style in a 1971 cover story before Frazier's $5 million fight with Muhammad Ali, the first of their three epic battles and the most lucrative boxing match ever at the time.

Smokin' Joe Frazier's style was to move forward continuously, keeping his opponents on their heels.

"There were fights when he didn't step backward. He took very few backward steps in his career," recalled Larry Merchant, the HBO boxing analyst, who was a Philadelphia newspaperman during Frazier's early years. "What made him good was not so much his punching power as his willingness to keep coming and walking through the fire, his toughness and grit - and willingness to train so he could take the kind of punishment a fighter take in order to get to his opponent."

Mr. Frazier's signature weapon was a destructive left hook, which he used to win his first title in 1968 and floor Ali in their first meeting in 1971. He developed his powerful left as a young child, growing up without electricity or plumbing in rural Beaufort, S.C. His father had lost his left arm in a shooting over a mistress, and young Joe became his father's left arm.

"When I was a boy, I used to pull a big cross saw with my dad. He'd use his right hand, so I'd have to use my left," Mr. Frazier once said. After watching boxing on TV with his father, he filled a burlap sack with a brick, rags, corncobs, and moss, then hung it from a tree. Frazier hit his home made heavy bag every day for an hour for seven years.
 
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