By:Â Justin Chan
Muhammad Ali once said, "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." Well, he was definitely on the receiving end of the stinging when he first fought fellow boxing legend Joe Frazier. Frazier was two years younger and had compiled a 26-0 record prior to fighting in the "Fight of the Century."
Meanwhile, Ali had come out of a suspension from boxing, after failing to report to duty during the Vietnam War. Though Ali had also come off a couple impressive wins over Oscar Bonavena, Jerry Quary and Zora Folley, he met his match against Frazier, who was peaking at the time. Ali was favored to win the match, but he struggled to keep pace with Frazier's devastating blows. The fight lasted the full 15 rounds, and Frazier eventually retained his title as the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion.
Although he was often on bad terms with Ali and labeled a "gorilla" and an "Uncle Tom," Frazier was unfazed and became an icon in the African American community during his career. Ali's taunting did little to hurt his image, which only grew as Frazier became idolized in popular culture. Sylvester Stallone, for instance, paid tribute to him in his cult film Rocky.
With the win over Ali, Frazier cemented his status as one of boxing's most feared fighters. Nicknamed "Smokin' Joe," he would eventually go on to win five more fights and earn a 32-4-1 record. Two of his losses came in rematches with Ali while the other two were to George Foreman, another legend in his own right. Frazier also earned a gold medal at the 1964 Olympics, beating Germany's Hans Huber.
Frazier was unfortunately diagnosed with liver cancer last year and passed away at the age of 67. Despite the tension he had built with Ali during his boxing career, Ali reportedly gave Frazier a round of applause at his funeral as a sign of admiration and recognition of his accomplished career. At the end of the day, it was only fitting that the two legends showed a mutual respect for another.
Photo:Â 'Cause i need itÂ
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