Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God Speed Champ

When you drive by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you see tourists literally lined up to have their picture taken in front of the "Rocky" statue. In this great boxing city it is sad that visitors revere a fictional boxing legend rather than the real thing....it should be a statue of Smokin' Joe they pose before.
Last night the Philadelphia boxing community got the word that Joe Frazier has passed away. We are all saddened by this news.
Joe was born poor in rural South Carolina...one of 13 kids. His father was a sharecropper and sometime bootlegger who lost part of his left arm to a gunshot wound. Young Joe worked hard from a young age and became transfixed by the boxing matches he saw on T.V. He began to train. They say his devastating left hook was developed by using a cross cut saw with his Dad..who had to use his right hand due to his injury. He fashioned a heavy bag from stuff in the barn and it hung from a tree limb and Joe hammered it every day for an hour.
He dedicated himself to the "Sweet Science" and eventually won an Olympic Gold medal and then the World Heavyweight title...back when that title really meant something...not the alphabet soup of belts and titles we have today.
You know the rest...the legendary Madison Square Garden fight against Ali and the loss to Foreman.
When his gloves were hung up....Smokin' Joe stayed in Philly...his adopted hometown. He ran a gym, mentored fighters and trained quite a few. He was a gentleman to those he met and he was adored by the fight fans of this City. We will miss you Champ.