The boxing hero’s relentless style and epic left hook commanded respect — and made Ali a legend.
Joe Frazier’s grandson is a classmate of my 10-old-daughter.
And yesterday she came home and wanted to talk about the boy’s sadness. The way he looked, the way he felt, the way he told her to just leave him alone. She was sad because he was sad. I told her to just give him some space, that everything would be okay. Today her classroom will have an empty chair.
As she talked, I started to cry. After all, I know what Frazier has meant to me and many men, black and white, who walk the streets of this country. Now here he was touching me on a very personal level. So I took a moment to be introspective. I told my daughter about who he was. For the first time in my life, I was passing on what my father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed on to me — stories of greatness.
Someone once said, “It is always the punch a fighter does not see that hurts the most.” For Joe Frazier, it was his life story.
Whether it was his three decade-long feud with Muhammad Ali or his fight for respectability when it comes to his place in boxing history, Frazier seemed to always be fighting for something. The same can be said for the liver cancer that took his life yesterday at age 67 – another hero gone before his time.
The reason I say hero is that Frazier simply made Ali great. He was an intricate part of what made Ali the iconic figure that he is today. Without Frazier, there’s no Ali; their lives will forever be fused together. I hope Frazier died knowing this, knowing that he is and was, arguably the second-best pound-for-pound heavyweight to ever put on a pair of gloves.
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SOURCE: The Root