Tuesday, June 25, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Smokin' Joe: The Life Of Joe Frazier'

The Washington Times published my review of Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier.

Thousands of tourists flock to Philadelphia for the historic sites and other attractions, and many of them venture to the Philadelphia Art Museum’s steps, where actor Sylvester Stone ran up them famously as the fictional boxer in the 1976 film “Rocky.”

The tourists have their photo taken along side the statute of Rocky, a prop from one of the “Rocky” sequels, which stands near the bottom of the museum steps. But there is another statute of a true fighter, the late Joe Frazier, in South Philadelphia near the sports arenas.

I met Joe Frazier briefly in the late 1970s at his Cloverlay boxing gym in North Philadelphia. There were more far more fans than fighters in the gym that day, but Joe Frazier was affable and approachable. As an amateur boxer and fight fan, I was impressed with Joe Frazier. His career was admirable, and his three fights with Muhammad Ali were the stuff of boxing legend.

Unfortunately, Muhammad Ali’s showboat antics and flamboyant boxing style overshadowed Joe Frazier. Sadly, Muhammad Ali belittled Joe Frazier in public for years, calling him a gorilla, an Uncle Tom and other insults. The public barrage angered and saddened Joe Frazer deeply.

It would not be until after his death in November 2011 that a 12-foot, 1,800-pound bronze statue of him was erected at the sports arenas. The statute shows Joe Frazier delivering the left hook that floored Muhammad Ali in the 1971 bout that many call the “Fight of the Century.”

And now Joe Frazier appears to be getting his further due with a full biography. “Smokin Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier” by Mark Kram Jr. covers the great boxer’s life from his poor beginnings in South Carolina to his ascension to the championship of the world.

Mr. Kram describes Joe Frazier as unimposing for a heavyweight, at just under six feet tall, but his aggressive style of coming out “smokin’,” and his willingness to step in and be pounded by an opponent in order to get close and throw his powerful left hook, made him a champion. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


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