By George WIllis, NY POST
The last time I saw Joe Frazier was in August at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Philadelphia. He was there to be honored by the organization with a Pioneer Award in recognition of his celebrated boxing career.
He was dressed sharply and had plenty of smiles to share as he took his place among the other honorees, including former Temple basketball coach John Chaney. A few months earlier, Frazier was at Madison Square Garden, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd in recognition of the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Muhammad Ali.
It came a little late, but Frazier finally was receiving the honors and recognition for a boxing career that had been overshadowed by Ali. It’s a shame it took so long to give proper respect to a man who had as much to do with helping heavyweight boxing thrive in the 1960s and 1970s as Ali.
For how could we truly know Ali’s greatness if not for Frazier, who died last night at age 67 after a short bout with liver cancer?
Born in South Carolina on Jan. 12, 1944, he won the gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and became the heavyweight champion in 1970 by beating Buster Mathis and Jimmy Ellis after Ali was stripped of the title for not entering the draft.