"Smokin" Joe Frazier punched way into USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame
One of boxing’s all-time greatest, the late, great “Smokin’” Joe Frazier, will be inducted posthumously into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame, Friday night, December 13, during a special Class of 2019 ceremony, at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The HOF reception is being held in conjunction with the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing and 2019 National Championships, Dec. 7-15, at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The finals of the Olympic Trials will be held Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino. Hall of Fame broadcaster Al Bernstein from Showtime Sports will serve as the event’s emcee for the third year in a row.
The USA Boxing Alumni Association’s third HOF class also includes two other Olympic gold-medalists, “Big” George Foreman and Mark Breland, in addition to a pair of decorated coaches, Al Mitchell and Ray Rodgers.
Sen. John McCain will be posthumously presented a special Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless work to protect boxers and elevate the sport.
“On behalf of our family,” Joe’s son Marvis Frazier said, “we’d like to thank the USA Boxing Alumni Association for remembering Joe Frazier. Honoring him like this will introduce him to a new generation of boxing fans.
“My father learned discipline he needed to go on and win Olympic gold and do what he needed to be world champion. He took that to the pros and beat Muhammad Ali in the best fight in the world. They were two great champions who worked together to show people what boxing is really all about.”
Born in South Carolina, Frazier was well known as an elite Philadelphia boxing product, compiling a 38-2 amateur record. He was a three-time National Golden Gloves champion whose only two losses were both to Buster Mathis, who was the only opponent to defeat Frazier, including a loss by decision – questionable according to Frazier – in the Olympic Trials.
When U.S. Olympic Team heavyweight qualifier Buster Mathis was unable to compete at the 1964 Olympic Games due to injury, Frazier took full advantage of this opportunity as a replacement.
Frazier went on to become one of only four American boxers to medal in Tokyo. Joe was the lone gold medalist, despite breaking a thumb in the semifinals. In the opening round, Frazier knocked out George Olynello (Uganda), followed by a third-round stoppage of Athol McQueen (Australia) in the quarterfinals. Against Vadim Yemelyanov (Russia) in the semifinal round, Frazier won by way of a second round KO, even though he broke his left thumb.
Unwilling to tell anybody that he had broken his thumb, fearing that he wouldn’t be allowed to fight, Frazier showed the tremendous grit he became famous for by winning a close decision, 3-2, versus Hans Huber (United Team of Germany) in the championship final to capture a gold medal.
“Winning an Olympic gold medal was the highlight of his amateur career,” Marvis noted. “It meant that he was the best in the world, and it also made things easier for his next step into the pros. I think he felt it helped make him a real man, the best in the world, and not many people can say that. Winning Olympic gold with a broken thumb showed our father what he could do and proved that he was the man. He wasn’t afraid to get the job done. No excuses, get the job done, was what my father said all the time. And you better had gotten the job done.”
Frazier (32-4-1, 27 KOs) went on to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, defeating the likes of Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Ellis (twice), Bob Foster, Oscar Bonavena (twice), Jerry Quarry, Mathis, Doug Jones, Eddie Machen and George Chuvalo during his 16-year professional career.
Listed at only 5-11 ½, Frazier was best known for his bobbing, weaving, relentless pressure and liver-damaging left hook. He passed away November 7, 2011 due to complications from liver cancer at the age of 67.
“Joe’s legacy will live on forever throughout USA Boxing,” added Chris Cugliari, USA Boxing Alumni Association Executive Director. “His toughness and heart was second to none, and today’s USA Boxing champions can look to Joe for the definition of a champion in and out of the ring. We look forward to honoring his legacy as a Hall of Famer on December 13th.”
Confirmed special guests include 1988 Olympic gold medalist Andrew Maynard, three-time National AAU Coach of the Year (1972-76-77) Joe Clough, 1984 Olympic gold medalist Frank Tate and his brother Thomas, 1972 Olympian Tim Dement, 2002 National Golden Gloves champion Jaidon Codringtion, 1980 Olympic Qualifier Jackie Beard, 1981 Junior Olympics Glen Modicue, four-time National champion Eric Kelly, 1988 Eastern Olympic Qualifier champion John Scully, Obie Beard, Mark Lanton and the Stephens brothers – Donald, Anthony and Jerry.