Joe Frazier is a good man, and I couldn’t have done what I did without him…if God ever calls me to a holy war, I want Joe Frazier fighting beside me.
“Smokin’ Joe” Joe Frazier stands as one of the greatest boxers in history. Perhaps best remembered for his 14-round match against Muhammad Ali, the infamous “Thrilla in Manila,” Frazier was an exceptional athlete in his own right, reigning as heavyweight boxing champion from 1970-1973.
The legendary boxer was born into a sharecropping family on January 12, 1944 in South Carolina. The youngest of 12 children, Joe Frazier had dropped out of school by age 13 and two years later was on his own. At 15 the teenager moved to New York with an older brother to find employment; finding none, he resorted to stealing cars in Brooklyn to make ends meet. Young Frazier eventually made his way to Philadelphia, where his childhood dream of becoming a boxer began to take shape. In this new city, Frazier found work at a slaughterhouse and practiced his punches on refrigerated sides of beef—an act that would later inspire Sylvester Stallone for his film “Rocky.”
Joe Frazier entered the ring in 1961. Displaying exceptional raw talent, the young athlete was almost immediately successful, earning the title of Middle Atlantic Golden Gloves Champion for three straight years and winning the gold medal at the 1964 Olympics. Frazier turned pro in 1965 and was crowned heavyweight champion not long after.
Nothing catapulted Frazier’s career into the spotlight quite like his heated rivalry with Muhammad Ali. Their first encounter, dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” took place at Madison Square Garden in 1971. The shorter, stockier Frazier was victorious. In 1974 the two met again, this time Ali beating Frazier; however, they were destined to meet once more. Their final battle is one of the most historic fights in all of boxing history, the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali was triumphant, but only because after 14 grueling rounds, Frazier’s trainer prevented him from continuing to fight due to severe swelling and eyesight issues.
The legendary boxer retired in 1976, returning for one fight in 1981 before exiting the ring for good.
The incredible ring illustrated here is a piece of history connected to the legendary heavyweight “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier. Crafted of yellow gold and inset with a rare $10.00 Indian head coin, the ring was one of Frazier’s trademarks. In fact, it can be seen in numerous photographs taken of the boxer over the years. As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, the handsome ring is truly massive—it weighs in at 1.6 ounces and is a size 10.5! This ring is a sensational memento unique to one of the most recognizable sports icons of all time.
A truly exceptional athlete and Olympic champion, as well as half of one of the sports world’s greatest rivalries, Joe Frazier will be remembered for decades, if not centuries, to come.