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Those Who Passed in 2011: Joe Frazier the Wizard of Boxing

Ali and Singer Arthur Prysock in the kitchen eating a burger at one of his Champburger franchises in Northwest Miami, 1969
Last month boxing legend "Smoking" Joe Frazier died. The son of  a South Carolina sharecropper, Frazier migrated to Philadelphia where he came up through the ranks as an extremely disciplined hard working and hard hitting no flashy stuff boxer. He stood in stark contrast to his handsome, charismatic, poetic, and militant arch rival Muhammad Ali.  As a Muslim Ali refused to be drafted into the U. S. army during the Vietnam War, telling a reporter, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Congs. No Viet Cong ever called me Nigger.” His position resulted in Federal charges of violating the U. S. government’s Selective Service Act, a sentence of five years imprisonment, and a fine of $1, 00,000. He appealed the decision consequently keeping out of jail. However, The World Boxing Association stripped him of his title and boxing license and the government forced him to surrender his passport thus preventing him from earning money as a professional boxer at home or abroad. Growing up in my black power (mom) and race man (dad) home we lampooned Frazier because Ali openly ridiculed him as ugly and an Uncle Tom.  Years later my view of Frazier changed as one my students did a research paper in which he found that like Booker T. Washington, Frazier had another side to him that few knew: he  admired Ali stance against the war and support of the civil rights and black power movements; insisted Ali accept his financial when he went broke why banned from boxing; and he lobbied hard to get the ban lifted. If Washington was the Wizard of Tuskegee, Frazier was the Wizard of Boxing. During Ali's almost penniless time in his life he later signed a restaurant franchise deal that netted him $900,000 from the Champburger Company for the use of his name and image and a 1% royalties on the company’s annual profits. In 1968, Champburger stock sold for $5 a share. The licensing contract he signed stipulated that all franchise menus sell Muslim friendly food thus in addition to the all beef Champburger, the menu including all beef “hot dogs, fried chicken, fried fish, boiled fish, and Mr. Champ soda. 

Never seen Life Magazine photos of Ali vs. Frazier 1971: http://www.life.com/gallery/56541/never-seen-ali-vs-frazier-1971#index/4

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