Sad news from the world of boxing: Former heavyweight champion boxer Joe Frazier has lost his battle with liver cancer. He died Monday night, his family told the Associated Press. He was 67 years old.
According to AP:
Born in Beaufort, S.C., on Jan 12, 1944, Frazier took up boxing early after watching weekly fights on the black and white television on his family's small farm. He was a top amateur for several years, and became the only American fighter to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo despite fighting in the final bout with an injured left thumb.
"Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man," promoter Bob Arum told the AP in a telephone interview on Tuesday night. "He's a guy that stood up for himself. He didn't compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn't give 100 percent."
After turning pro in 1965, Frazier quickly became known for his punching power, stopping his first 11 opponents. Within three years he was fighting world-class opposition and, in 1970, beat Ellis to win the heavyweight title that he would hold for more than two years.
It was his fights with [Muhammad] Ali, though, that would define Frazier. Though Ali was gracious in defeat in the first fight [in 1971], he was as vicious with his words as he was with his punches in promoting all three fights — and he never missed a chance to get a jab in at Frazier.
Frazier, who in his later years would have financial trouble and end up running a gym in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, took the jabs personally. He felt Ali made fun of him by calling him names and said things that were not true just to get under his skin. Those feelings were only magnified as Ali went from being an icon in the ring to one of the most beloved people in the world …
He mellowed, though, in recent years, preferring to remember the good from his fights with Ali rather than the bad. Just before the 40th anniversary of his win over Ali earlier this year — a day Frazier celebrated with parties in New York — he said he no longer felt any bitterness toward Ali.
We'll bring you more details, as they are available, as well as an appreciation of the late boxing champ.
Meanwhile, read more at the Washington Post.
In other news: An Outrage: NC Black Women Were Sterilized.
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.