- May 16, 2013
Always loved this painting, it has a high artistic quality. I have it printed and framed in my lounge room.
"brown bomber" - robert riggs
Do you have any information or articles talking about Joe's arthritis?Jumbo built his body up with weights in jail. It was not purely a genetic gift. No, he did not out muscle Frazier in their draw or physically manhandle Joe. Foreman was an absolute freak in terms of physical strength. Cummings would have stopped Bruno in that opening round had he stunned Frank earlier, and in fact, maybe Bruno would not have beaten the count if that was a knockdown punch. Floyd never came remotely close to doing anything like that to an arthritic Smoke pushing 38, coming out of five and a half years retirement, and nudging 230 pounds.
Frazier-Cummings may have been dismal when measured against Joe's prime, but as a self-contained event, it was a much better heavyweight scrap than Snipes-Cummings had been, and the print media was unduly harsh about it. Going in, most assumed Jumbo would physically manhandle him as Foreman did, maul him into retreat and easy defeat. That Frazier was even in the kind of shape he was to go through ten rounds like that with the degree of arthritis he had is insane.
Cummings is now locked up for life under the "three strikes" law in Illinois, after a murder conviction originally sent him to jail, kidnapping and armed robbery later ending his boxing career, then felony theft to put him behind bars for keeps. At least he didn't try biting Frazier like he did Snipes.
No, not currently. Most of what I read was in print articles long before the Internet came around, but Joe's chronic health problems were common knowledge. He did NOT talk about those problems too much himself though.Do you have any information or articles talking about Joe's arthritis?
No, not currently. Most of what I read was in print articles long before the Internet came around, but Joe's chronic health problems were common knowledge. He did NOT talk about those problems too much himself though.
He pretty much toughed out the fact of having arthritis, a condition which continues to elude effectively reliable treatments.
Allow me to preface what I'm going to say about Smoke by discussing another HW Champion with arthritis...
Jimmy Braddock spoke in fine detail about how the combination of Louis as a challenger, and his own mounting arthritic hindrances dethroned him as HW Champion over the final four rounds of his eighth round knockout. (Jimmy said he fought as well as he ever did, with all the experience he could muster, and that he was all right over the first four rounds. In fact, if you stop viewing Louis-Braddock after the opening four rounds, the Cinderella Man's experiential and skill improvement over the filmed boxing lesson Tommy Loughran gave Jimmy eight years earlier is incredible, but at no time did Braddock ever even hint he could have ever defeated Louis without being hampered by any arthritis. He simply made it clear that if you wanted to see HIM at the very best HE could be, the first four rounds of his performance against Louis show it, and Jimmy was respected all the rest of his life for insisting to his corner that he go out on his sword and shield entering round eight.)
Braddock said he retired after decisioning Farr because winning his last match was one of his two goals in boxing (winning the HW Championship being the other), and because his mounting arthritis was no longer allowing him to move backwards (an absolute necessity, since arthritic hands had already caused this former power puncher to be suspended from boxing).
While boxers are supposed to be tough, especially HW Champions, Joe Frazier may have been the absolute toughest of those titlists. He breaks his left thumb before the 1964 Olympic HW Finals, and tells NO ONE, simply soaking it in ice water and Epsom salts (in part to prevent it from noticeably swelling). Shards of metal from a faulty speedbag hinge fly into his left eye during a training session, blinding that eye, and he continues his career by keeping it a secret. (Think about this. A fractured thumb in a sparring session sustained by Buster Mathis kept him out of the Tokyo Games, giving Smoke that opportunity, and a torn retina sustained by Leotis Martin in his knockout of Sonny Liston ended his career, forever depriving him of a shot at Frazier. Joe had excellent examples of why to keep his mouth shut.)
Everybody knows how "Billy Boy" broke his left arm as a boy wrestling a giant farm hog on the loose, how that arm did not set properly in healing, due to lack of proper medical care in an impoverished rural setting, resulting in him unable to fully straighten it, resulting in an ideal hook. (He actually had a pretty good left jab and right, but they are most on display when he wins the 1964 HW Gold Medal, in the 1974 Jerry Quarry rematch, and in his 1981 finale with Cummings, when with his hook ineffective and well prepared for, he still surprises with his hand speed unloading jabs and rights while sidestepping quickly. Even in December 1981, he was a VASTLY superior boxer to Jumbo, showed better generalship in neutralizing Floyd's physical strength, and footage of their draw reveals a good fight which the spectators in Chicago cheered at the final bell.)
Smoke was a fellow who tended to take what most would consider handicaps, and turn those situations into opportunities. Training induced blindness in his left eye became a focusing opportunity, a fractured left arm resulted in an ATG left hook, and when that left hook was rendered impotent in the Olympic final, or against Cummings, his left jab and right hand saved him from defeat. (One thing he could NOT do was adapt to blindness in Manila the way Sam Langford did in knocking out Tiger Flowers for the Boston Terror's last great win. Eddie Futch saw in the Phillipines that Frazier wasn't defending against Ali's right effectively after Joe's good right eye swelled up, and stopped it after 14 in a situation where scoring referee Carlos Padilla later said on camera he would have stopped it around 45 seconds after they touched gloves if Frazier was not rallying. Futch next saved Joe from the igonimy of an automatic third knockdown TKO in the Foreman rematch.)
Frazier sure had a pair on him! Peralta rematched an inexperienced GF, but only Lyle really pursued a rematch among those who did not compete against Foreman a second time. (Big Ron was also on a different level of toughness. Who the hell else was NOT afraid to get EMBARRASSED against Jimmy Young a second time in front of an audience?)
Due to the ineffectiveness and relative impotence of his left hook against Cummings, Joe sensibly decided not to fight again. His hook had done some damage to GF's right eye in their 1976 rematch, causing that eye to swell up, but that same power wasn't there five and a half year later in Chicago, and it's not unusual for an oft injured hand and arm to be a primary arthritis target. (Still, most expected Cummings to steamroller Smoke with vastly superior physical strength, but that didn't work for Chuvalo, it didn't work for Stander, and going by the footage, a draw for Frazier-Cummings was a reasonable verdict, not a sentimental gift for Joe. George Foreman was a physical freak among freaks, as demonstrated by his casually effortless shoving of a heavily steroided Tommy Morrison.)
Just to train the way Frazier did was an expression of how tough he was. I do NOT consider his story to be a sad one like many dramatists. He matched the average life expectancy for United States born residents of his generation, likely would have died of some obesity related disease in his 30's if he'd never been an athlete, and when he did die of liver cancer, death came quickly. (He publicly pitied Ali, who HATED being pitied, and displays good cheer in his late life interviews. Boxing has a lot of tragic stories, but considering the high blood pressure, kidney problems and arthritis Joe Frazier inherited, I consider his entry into a gym for losing weight merely so he could fit his legs into his pants to have resulted in one of boxing's greatest success stories. He lived to a later age than three of my four biological grandparents.)
People ignorantly comment on how "sad" it is to see Joe in his exhibition at age 62 with then Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. That's crap. Frazier was moving around the ring with a smile on his face for three one minute rounds, NOT with his torso covered by a tee shirt like Zale and Graziano were for their reunion exhibition, and he wasn't rolling around the ring in a wheelchair or leaning on a cane or walker either. He was putting on a display of fooling around for the spectators to raise money for the city's drug court. (That's something else often ignored. In his 60's in a wheelchair, Louis was a charity case. In his 60's in a boxing exhibition, Frazier was a charity contributor.)
Respect, appreciation and admiration for Joe Frazier are among the words which come to my mind when considering him, NOT pity or sorrow! Also, it takes a MAN to be a Dad. When Smoke embraces his humiliated and weeping son Marvis after his boy gets blasted out in one by Larry Holmes and stands by Marvis in the dressing room for the television interview afterwards, he shows the world the same heart which made him Champion.
His long right hand tore open Jerry Quarry's face in their rematch, causing JQ to turn his back in concession. (Gerry Cooney's right also ripped open Jimmy Young's face in round three, suddenly turning the overall complexion of their bout around, as Jimmy was only able to complete another round before having to be withdrawn.)Thanks Duo!
I really appreciate your thoughtful and comprehensive response. Like you, I have a lot of admiration for Joe Frazier in and out of the ring. I have heard of numerous incidents in which people who met him came away admiring him more then before they met.
Though I was aware that he had some serious shoulder issues I've never been able to find out to the extent he was hampered by them. As you pointed out, he does not seem like someone who would discuss physical challenges that he was facing never mind use them as an alibi for performance in the ring. I don't think the world got to see Smokin Joe at his Peak following the Fight of the Century. While his hospitalization following the first fight Muhammad Ali is well-known the specific circumstances still seems somewhat mysterious. I suspect that the kidney and hypertension from which he suffered for bigger issues than people understand.
I also believe that you were raised a very good point regarding his effective right hand. It is mind numbing the number of so called boxing aficionados who claimed that Joe was a one-armed fighter. In addition to the fights you point it out Chuvalo and Ellis also provide excellent examples of its effectiveness.
I'm always amazed when people question his durability and chin following his loss to Foreman. I don't think there is ever been another fighter in history has been lifted off his feet buy a punch and still had ability and the heart to get back and carry on. Thank you again, and I look forward to any information or insight that you may have in the future.