Here today. Gone tomorrow.
…….and it becomes increasingly evident with each passing year of one life as we realize our own mortality by gauging how fragile life can be when we witness the fall of our mighty childhood heroes.
Joe Frazier, former heavyweight champion of the world and the man who play the lead supporting role in a battle that defined an era, passed away after his final bout with liver cancer yesterday, he was 67 years old.
For me personally, this one hurt.
Because my personal heroes and icons are all on deck and in that age group where you somehow expect to hear the worst yet feel grateful that they’ve made it through another year.
Not only because of the fact that you love them so much but as long as they are alive it makes you feel as though your time with the grim reaper won’t come anytime soon.
We all know it doesn’t happen that way but this is the effect that our childhood supermen have on us. They make us all feel like the young adoring fans that we were when they were in their prime form. When they leave us we feel as though we are stripped bare and defenseless because no one else can take us back there to that special place like they could!
Joe Frazier epitomized and embodied true the blue collar work ethic that made this country great. He came to battle each and every time and expected nothing less than one hundred per cent of himself while expecting nothing more in compensation than what the contract stated.
A proud family man to the utmost, you never heard of the celebrated infidelities that others were known for and you always heard a respectful word from his mouth even when it seemed that the entire world at one point ran with the joke started by Muhammad Ali that he was a gorilla.
Words sure do hurt and here we had one of the great heavyweights of all time not only in the sport of boxing but in this thing called life disrespected when we were gifted with him only to realize how special he was now that he is gone.
It’s the way the boss feels when his hardest working employee is on vacation and he sees how the production of his company has diminished in his absence.
The chasm that Joe Frazier’s passing has created is so much bigger than we any of us could have imagined.
They just don’t make ’em like him anymore.
While we often celebrate the glitz and glitter that Muhammad Ali brought to the table in their epic “Fight Of The Century” of March 8, 1971, how great could that fight have been at that time if not for the ferociousness of that version of Joe Frazier? He was the canvas from which Ali was allowed to paint his unique brand of greatness. He was the reason why we even BEGAN to call Muhammad great in the first place, giving Ali the opportunity of those defining moments in the first place.
How did we know that Muhammad Ali could get up unless he was knocked down?
No matter how high Muhammad Ali’s star rose in the world the launching pad that propelled him to the next level of athletic immortality will always be that quiet humble God fearing hard working family man named Joe Frazier.
So I can understand in hindsight the pain and frustration that Joe Frazier had to endure as he was thrust into a role that he didn’t understand or comprehend at the time. While Muhammad Ali molded the perception of what Joe Frazier was before the world really had the opportunity to see who he truly was, it was too late. Muhammad knew better but in his mind the show must go on and as the resentment from Muhammad’s betrayal built up within his blue-collar soul, his demeanor only played further into the artificial persona that Muhammad Ali crafted for him to make the event even more compelling.
Joe Frazier was a simple man that was not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. What he wasn’t was a socially adept man who was knowledgeable to the quickly shifting tides of the world issues that came readily attached to that classic fight because of who his opponent was.
He was a fighter and he came to fight dammit!
He didn’t embrace the mindset that one had to be a slick talking politician in order to win a prizefighting match. He wasn’t ready to express his personal stance on the Vietnam war, the now dissipated civil rights movement or what he thought about Muhammad’s (Highly unpopular at the time!) believe in Islam.
In 1971 there were no business models on how a super fight should go. So Joe Frazier had to learn the hard way something that came so natural to Muhammad Ali and it wasn’t a pleasant experience in that respect at all.
If Joe Frazier fought at today’s standards he most likely would have campaigned as a Cruiserweight, that oftentimes overlooked weight division whose only claim to fame was its brief habitation of the legendary Evander Holyfield before he moved up to bigger and better things as a heavyweight.
But this is to show you what type of fighting heart this classic warrior possessed because of his willingness to trade blows with any opponent who was placed in front of him no matter how much more that opponent weighed.
Remember his dealings with a prime George Foreman?
Even in defeat Joe Frazier showed the heart o a lion, while many weekend boxing fans who have an untrained eye will comment on how many times Joe was knocked down, the dyed in the wool boxing die-hards with a keen eye for the sport will see the glass as half full and speak on the fact of how many times Joe got up!
Heck! To put it in perspective, a young Michael Moorer couldn’t even get up from that ONE crushing blow that temporarily separated him from his senses from a forty-five year old George Foreman twenty-one years later!
So imagine the brute force that Joe Frazier had to endure multiple times from a young prime George Foreman!
I rest my case.
Another point worth mentioning for those who are just not aware of what a treasure we have lost in Joe Frazier is that he came up at a time as an athlete where it was the most competitive times to actually be a heavyweight fighter.
When you look at the shallow field of and the nonexistent talent level of today’s heavyweight division it makes you realize how golden a time it was to have such a deep pool of great fighters come along in the same era who were willing to fight each other at the drop of a dime frequently without all of the childish bickering, nit picking and so called business minded posturing that we have as the standard in the present day.
In those days of the 1970’s heavyweight fighters FOUGHT, and it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that any of the top ten heavyweight contenders of Joe Frazier’s era could have been champion even if not for long because of the high level and depth of competition.
If you doubt me on this then let me prove you wrong! Look at my list, and this is not in any necessary order of ability but merely to show how any of the top contenders of that day could have held the crown because they DID!
Now while there were so many more good durable fighters that I could have added to that list and arguable could have been interchanged with one or two on the list, the fact of the matter is that Joe Frazier came up in that mix and like the others who competed at that time, fought each other multiple times!
So if Joe Frazier never regained the heavyweight championship of the world it was not a crime any at all!
Do we really see that these days?
How many Joe Frazier’s do we have not only in the sport of boxing but in life?
It’s the Joe Frazier’s of the world that made the big companies what they were and under-girded the financial successes of Detroit’s automotive Big Three long before corporate greed, lazy self serving executives and bad moral allowed the Asian car manufacturers to dominate a market no because they were so good but because we became so bad!
It’s the Joe Frazier’s of the world that kept communities vibrant and strong with the good old fashioned family values that allowed us to not spare the rod with our children in order to raise a nation of leaders that weren’t more interested in the foolishness of the world as they are now with the Reality Television Shows, whorish antics an saggin’ pants.
It’s the Joe Frazier’s of the world that make our Mothers proud to BE Mothers because of the sons that they have raised.
It’s the Joe Frazier’s of the world that make us feel safe when no cop is around because of the innate righteous authority that they walk with knowing that they will not allow any harm or wrongdoing to transpire in their midst.
I’m quite sure today if Joe Frazier was a young father he would have NOT allowed such foolishness in HIS household!
What happened to the seemingly broken production line that created the Joe Frazier’s of the world and what kind of place will this be without them?
Where are the Joe Frazier’s in our neighborhoods today? It’s getting harder and more difficult to find them.
Pray for us all.
In a sport where good moral character and a sense of decency is literally non existent and a trait that will allow one to be swallowed up by the sharks and wolves who are the constant inhabitants of the fight game, Joe Frazier stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to being his own man even when he was the designated butt of many jokes during the promotion of his fights with Muhammad Ali. He made most who were blessed to have enjoyed his presence pale in comparison when you dug deeper to see the traits that would have made anyone in any chosen field of expertise a champion and a winner hands down!
When it comes to having the spirit of a classic Philadelphia fighter you have to look no further than to study the career and life of Joe Frazier, a man who was born into poverty and grew into the legendary figure of the sometimes unattainable high American standards that many of us fail to reach.
So now I challenge all who are part of the influential powers that be in Philadelphia to commemorate this champion of champions with a statue that will live on to show those who are not even born yet what this man stood for and who he was. Hey, if the fictional character of Rocky Balboa can get a statue downtown then why can’t the real live embodiment of all that Rocky Balboa was supposed to stand for get one too?
Whether you know it or not, if you love Rocky Balboa then you HAVE to love Joe Frazier! It’s truly a damn shame that the masses didn’t realize this when the man was alive.
Instead of saying a few good words about the man now that he has passed on to the next level of existence, let us truly benefit by incorporating the essence of Joe Frazier in everything that we do. Let’s work hard, complain less, grab our responsibilities by the horns and face all consequences that come our way without a second thought. To do so would instantly improve our collective lives because we wouldn’t ever have to worry about the hidden intentions of the next man as our world would be a better place to live in.
So don’t feel sorry for Joe now in his passing because he is in a better place, we need to pity ourselves who are still here on this earth because the quality of this world has been depleted because of the loss of our forever champ Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Rest In Peace my friend until those Heavenly Bells ring to bring you into eternal life.
Thank you for those wonderful moments, you are a gift…….