Boxing legend Joe Frazier died Monday at the age of 67 after being diagnosed with liver cancer about a month ago. He spent his last days living in a Center City apartment under hospice care.  

Frazier was the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, won an Olympic gold medal, and beat an undefeated Muhammad Ali before becoming one of the most glorified and respected all-time heavyweight champions.

According to the article, Frazier's signature weapon was a left hook that could be destructive for any opponent. He used it to win his first title in 1968 and land Muhammad Ali on the ground in their first match against each other in 1971. Frazier developed his left hook as a young child who grew up without electricity or plumbing in Beaufort, S.C. His father lost his left arm in a shooting over a mistress, and a young Frazier soon became his father's left arm.

"When I was a boy, I used to pull a big cross saw with my dad," Frazier once said. "He'd use his right hand, so I'd have to use my left." After watching a boxing match on TV with his father, he decided to fill a burlap sack with a brick, corncobs, rags, and moss, and hang it from a tree. 

In his 1966 autobiography, "Smokin' Joe: The Autobiography of a Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin,'" Joe Frazier he wrote, "For the next six, seven years damn near every day I'd hit that heavy bag for an hour at a time."

Time magazine described his style as "A kind of motorized Marciano" in the 1971 cover story. This was before Mr. Frazier's $5 million fight with Muhammad Ali, one of three battles between the two.

Frazier's accomplishments are limitless. At age 15, Frazier began training in a Police Athletic League gym, won three national Golden Gloves titles, then a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He won the world heavyweight title  from 1968 to 1970. He Lost his world title in 1973 to George Foreman and never won it back, ending his career with 32 wins, 27 by knockout, four losses, and one draw.

Frazier was a true sport inside and outside the rink. In 1967 Ali refused to enter the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was banned from boxing and stripped of his title. Frazier lobbied for Ali's return, even loaning him money.

Philadelphia and the boxing world has lost a true sport, but his memory and victories will forever live on.
 


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