By Tom Gray: The former heavyweight champion of the world, “Smokin” Joe Frazier, received a fantastic reception at Glasgow’s Marriott Hotel on Wednesday night.
The first man to defeat Muhammad Ali, forty years ago, shared jokes with scores of boxing fans and sang songs in between photo opportunities. The great man was looking healthy and in fine spirits throughout the show which was staged by Maree Promotions.
The boxing legend, inducted into the IBHOF in 1990, was accorded the full respect of a champion who competed within a gladiatorial heavyweight era; taking on the aforementioned Ali, George Foreman, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Buster Mathis and George Chuvalo.
“Smokin” Joe was initially asked why he became a fighter and replied; “I played football and some baseball but didn’t get paid. I then found out I could make money for knocking guys out and that was an easy job!”
Like many boxers the sport also saved Frazier from a life of crime; “Everyone has a buddy that talks you into things. Stealing cars and selling parts could make you money in New York City but back in those days they didn’t use sling shots, they used guns, so I moved to Philadelphia and started my career.”
When asked about Muhammad Ali, his flashy arch-nemesis, the former champ brought the house down; “I helped Ali get his licence back and he never thanked me for that. He called me ugly but I didn’t have trouble with girls and I had a house full of babies!”
In regards to his final retirement from boxing in 1981 the proud family man stated; “My kids wanted me out after my last fight (a draw against Jumbo Cummings). They needed me at home, so I walked away from it.”
The evening also featured an exhibition by former two time heavyweight champion, Tim Witherspoon, who even at 53 years of age still possessed flashes of brilliance. Two white collar match ups followed, as well as an auction of boxing memorabilia which rounded out a fantastic occasion.
The event was attended by former world title challenger, Gary Jacobs and former British Champions, Paul Appleby and Barry Morrison.
May 13. 2011