Joe Frazier’s funeral, held today at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, was attended by boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and promoter Don King. The service was private. Frazier died last Monday, November 7, after battling liver cancer. He was 67 years old.
A public viewing was held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia Friday and Saturday, where his body laid in state and thousands came to pay their respects to the former Olympic gold medalist. Photographs were situated on each side of the white casket, a portrait of the heavyweight boxer on one side and a 1971 ad for ‘The Fight of the Century’ on the other, where he beat his long time foe, Muhammad Ali. Smokin’ Joe’s trademark black cowboy hat was placed on top of the casket, which was decorated with flowers and a folded American flag.
Reverend Jesse Jackson attended the funeral as well, speaking during the service, and boxing champs Floyd Mayweather and George Foreman have offered to help pay for funeral expenses.
Smokin’ Joe and Muhammad Ali met three times in the ring. The first, back in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, ‘The Fight of the Century’, saw Ali lose his first fight in his career. Frazier would lose in their second meeting, again at Madison Square Garden, in 1974. Their last fight, in 1975 held in the Philippines, was dubbed ‘The Thrilla in Manila’. Frazier lost to Ali, with Ali describing it as, “[the] closest thing to dying that I know of.” Upon learning of Frazier’s death, Ali said in a statement, “The world has lost a great Champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”
Frazier was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Frazier family during this difficult time. He will be missed.