Smokin Joe Frazier, a man who was a friend and a great champion passed away yesterday…
The Hall Of Fame boxing champ, died at age 67. As many of you may know I produced two feature films starring Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The movies also starred George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton, thus the title, Champions Forever. It’s the biggest selling boxing documentary of all time. We did the original movie in 1990 and the followup last year.
When I did the movie in 1990, the five heavyweight champs had never been together as a group before.
And they never were again. Baseball hall of famer Reggie Jackson was the host. I interviewed Ali on camera and off.
Joe was a very quiet, nice guy. Like many fans at the time, I hated Joe when he beat Ali in their first fight. It was billed as the Fight of the Century and boy was it.
Ali/Frazier One went down to the wire. Then out of nowhere Joe landed a huge left hook that dropped Ali to the canvas. Ali got up, but was defeated. I cried; he was my hero. Even though Ali would later come back and beat Joe twice as well as retake his title from Foreman, it always stayed with me – the vicious left hook that downed my guy.
It wasn’t until years later when I had the chance to work on this picture as producer, that I met Joe. He was hard not to like. His fist was the size of two of mine and the man could still HIT.
One of the hardest hitters of all-time, Joe was also a very soft and kind man. Unlike Ali, he didn’t brag or boast.
Ali’s group filed a lawsuit against my company in the mid 90’s for using his likeness on a phone card’ without his permission. We had used the cover shot of CHAMPIONS FOREVER, to promote the rerelease of the movie. It had already been in theaters and was going to DVD worldwide. Anyway, Joe flew in to help us. I hated facing off against my hero Ali but I had no choice. His family wanted to own the movie and take it from us.
Thanks to Joe’s testimony I won the case.
The hearing was held in LA and gained national attention: ALI FIGHTING AGAIN, THIS TIME IN COURT.
It all worked out. We won, made up with the Ali’s and got to hang out with Joe and his very large, busty, daughter and attorney. She later fought Ali’s daughter in the ring, yes, and lost. Layla Ali vs. Jackie Frazier.
I knew Joe was ill. I spoke his son a few times over the years and Joe as well, but I could tell from his voice that he was fading. All these guys are now senior citizens which is kinda sad. To see these giant men get old. We all age, but lord knows they truly are Champions Forever.
If you would like to see these movies they are available at Amazon.com or whereever DVDs are sold. As time went on I did a total of four sports pictures, all under the banner of CHAMPIONS FOREVER.
"Smokin Joe" you will be missed…