Smokin' Joe Frazier: Former Heavyweight Champ Dies at Age 67 of Liver Cancer

Dave CarlsonCorrespondent INovember 8, 2011

Joe Frazier
Joe FrazierAl Bello/Getty Images

Legendary heavyweight champion Joe Frazier passed away today at age 67 from liver cancer.

Frazier is best known for his reign as world heavyweight champion, and his trio of fights with Muhammad Ali, which saw him become the first person to ever defeat Ali in a boxing ring.

Reports earlier this week stated that Frazier was in hospice care fighting advanced liver cancer, and he was finally pronounced dead on the evening of Monday, November 7, 2011.

A former Olympic gold medalist and one of the most beloved, yet under-appreciated, boxing champions of all time, Smokin' Joe was a hard-hitting, iron-willed fighter with a locomotive-like approach and one of the greatest left hooks in the history of boxing.

Born on January 12, 1944 in Laurel Bay, Beaufort, South Carolina, Frazier was the son of a sharecropper and began his professional career after winning the gold medal in heavyweight boxing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Frazier was long considered a fixture of the Philadelphia boxing scene, making his home there throughout most of his amateur and professional career. He continued to train fighters for many years following the end of his professional career in 1976.

Frazier passed away at home, surrounded by family and friends.

Notable boxing figures remembered Joe Frazier fondly.

Bob Arum on Frazier's fights with Ali: "He proved himself in the first fight to be a great, great man and a great, great warrior. The third fight was the greatest fight in the history of boxing. Ever. The greatest fight ever. I still remember leaving the coliseum in Manila and going outside. The sun was so high in the sky beating down on us. It was almost eerie. It was unworldly what we had just seen. Two men fighting one of the great wars of all time. It's something I will never forget for all the years I have left."

Bernard Hopkins: "There's no way in the world you should come to Philadelphia and not recognize who Joe Frazier is. It's the perfect time to build the biggest statue in appreciation for all the heart and love he gave to Philadelphia. It's just to say how we regret when it's not there to touch and see. We didn't realize we had a super special person amongst us that we all in a way took for granted. I said this when he was living, I say this now. That's the only thing."

Manny Pacquiao: "Boxing lost a great champion, and the sport lost a great ambassador."

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (via Twitter): "RIP Smokin Joe. My thoughts and prayers go out to to the Frazier family. We lost an all time great tonight.

My Condolences go out to the family of the late great Joe Frazier. #TheMoneyTeam will pay for his Funeral services."