Joe Frazier Bio And Facts

Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier was a professional boxer who fought from 1965-1981. He was born on January 12th, 1944 in Beaufort, South Carolina and died on November 7th, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Frazier, nicknamed “Smokin Joe” was one of the world’s most successful and well-known boxers of his time. He competed against Mohammad Ali, George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, and other exceptional boxers.

Joe Frazier boasted a final record of 32 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw, with 27 wins by knockout. He had a large list of accomplishments throughout his career including being the first to defeat Muhammad Ali, holding the undisputed heavyweight champion belt from 1970-1973, and winning an Olympic gold medal in 1964. Joe was inducted into both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Following his boxing career, Frazier made a couple Hollywood appearances in various shows and movies, most notably The Simpsons. He also had eleven children in total; his son Marvis is the most well-known for following his father’s path in boxing. Sadly, Joe Frazier got diagnosed with liver cancer in September of 2011 and passed away only two months later.

  • Birthday: January 12th, 1944 (12-01-1944)
  • Died: November 7th, 2011 (07-11-2011)
  • Net Worth: $100,000
  • Occupation: Former professional boxer
  • Height: 5’11.5” (1.82 m)
  • Weight: 229 lbs (103.87 kg)
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • Years Active: 1965-1981 (16 years)
  • Career Wins: 32
  • Career Losses: 4
  • Nicknames: Smokin’ Joe Frazier

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Boxing Career

Joe Frazier had one of the toughest and most impressive boxing careers of his time. Although many believed Frazier was overshadowed by Mohammad Ali for the second half of his career, his accomplishments and level of competition tell a different story.

Frazier’s ameature boxing career started out extremely well, winning the Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship in 3 consecutive years from 1962-1964. In those three years, Joe walked away with only one loss. He was chosen to be an alternate for the 1964 Olympic Games and miraculously progressed to the final round where he defeated Hans Huber and took home the gold medal. After winning the United States’ only Olympic boxing gold medal, Joe finally turned to professional boxing in 1965.

In the first two years of Frazier's career in professional boxing, he recorded an impressive 11-0 record and by 1968 had claimed the New York heavyweight title. The next chapter of his career forced Joe to go against boxing legend Muhammad Ali. In their first fight, Frazier defeated Ali in an impressive showing and handed Ali his first professional loss.

Frazier became a nation-wide boxing star and reigned as heavyweight champion from 1970 to 1973 until he was stripped of his title by George Foreman. In 1974, Frazier would face Ali again but this time around he was defeated. Many view this as the decline in Frazier’s boxing career. The final legendary battle between Frazier and Ali was known as the “Thrilla in Manilla” and some consider it the greatest boxing match of all time. The two fought extremely hard as Ali eventually ended up victorious. Frazier would retire in the following year of 1976. He briefly appeared in the ring once more in 1981 but returned to retirement afterward to train his son, Marvis Frazier.

Titles and Awards

Joe Frazier’s boxing career earned him plenty of recognition and awards throughout his 16 years in the ring. Although most of his accomplishments came in individual victories, Frazier certainly had the hardware to back up his legendary status in the boxing world.

He won the amature Gold Glove Championships in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Again in 1964, Frazier won the only Olympic boxing gold medal for the United States as a huge underdog. He won the New York State heavyweight boxing title in 1968 and then focused his sights on the World Boxing Association title afterwards. Most impressive of all, he held the WBA belt for three consecutive years as the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1970-1973. Finally, in 1990 Frazier was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Personal Life

Joe Frazier was born in Beaufort, South Carolina on January 12, 1944 as the youngest of twelve children. His parents, Rubin and Dolly, were not very wealthy and had a lot of mouths to feed; naturally Joe grew up a hard worker and was on his own by the age of 15. He ended up settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he would pursue his boxing dreams.

After training as an ameature for years, he progressed to become an extremely successful boxer. Due to his success, Joe came into wealth he had never seen before. He went on to open his own gym in Philadelphia and had eleven kids in total: 6 sons and 5 daughters. Joe divorced his first wife, Florence Smith, in 1985 and stayed with his long time girlfriend, Denise Menz, until his death in 2011. By the time of his death, the millions he had made throughout his career was reduced to only around $100,000. Most blame his generosity and lack of financial knowledge for the poor management of his wealth.

Fun Facts

  • Frazier was the undisputed heavyweight champion for three consecutive years from 1970-1973.
  • Joe’s trainer, Yank Durham, gave him the nickname “Smokin Joe”
  • He was the youngest of 12 children.
  • Joe Frazier was the first boxer to ever defeat Muhammad Ali.
  • Frazier was a boxing fan from a young age and used to practice with his uncle. He looked up to boxer Joe Louis and wanted to be like him.
  • He had an impressive record of 32 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw.
  • Frazier had a total of 11 children: six sons and five daughters.
  • Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were not friends; the two boxers’ rivalry remained intense even outside of the ring. 


What are some of Joe Frazier’s biggest victories?

Joe Frazier experienced some truly amazing victories throughout his sixteen year boxing career. With victories against Buster Mathis, Jimmy Ellis, Bob Foster, Jerry Quarry, and more hall of fame boxers, Frazier stacked up an impressive resume of wins. He went undefeated with a record of 29-0 until his fight against George Foreman in 1973. His most impressive win with no doubt occurred against Muhammad Ali in 1971. In this fight at a packed Madison Square Garden, Frazier defeated Ali in the “Fight of the Century,” handing Ali his first professional loss.

Why was Joe Frazier’s net worth so low at the time of his death?

When he died in 2011, it was estimated that Joe Frazier’s net worth was only around $100,000. To most this would be very surprising, considering the millions he made throughout his career. Frazier’s low net worth is supposedly attributed to his generosity towards family and friends, poor business investments, and an overall lack of knowledge regarding financial management.

What was Joe Frazier’s relationship with Muhammad Ali?

Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali had one of the most intense sports rivalries of all time. While the two appeared friendly in the beginning, their interactions became more and more hostile as their careers progressed. The two first fought each other in “The Fight of the Century” in 1971 when Frazier handled Ali his first ever loss. Frazier formed a hatred for Ali, sighting the name calling and overall hostility that Ali used in the ring as his reasoning. In their second fight in 1974, Ali reigned victorious. Finally, they had their third and final fight, the “Thrilla in Manilla” which was labeled as the greatest fight in boxing history. After a long and gruesome battle, Ali eventually defeated Frazier.

Many fans speculate that Ali was the reason for the decline in Frazier’s career, adding more fuel to the fire. Following their boxing careers, the two still had a clear disdain for each other. They both attempted to reconcile in the early 2000’s, each telling reporters they no longer had hard feelings.

How did Joe Frazier die?

Joe Frazier died at 67 years old due to complications from liver cancer. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September of 2011 and was admitted to hospice care at the time. Only two months later on November 7th, 2011 Frazier was pronounced dead as a result of the disease. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was buried in Alexandria, Virginia.