CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Smoking Joe Frazier and the Ghost of Tom Doniphon

John Wayne portrayed Tom Doniphon, **The Man who Shot Liberty Valance,** though Ranse Stoddard (James Stewart) got the credit for eliminating the bad guy, portrayed by Lee Marvin. As your humble swashbuckling journalist and information scientist, I have always sought the Tom Doniphons lost in the shadows of history.

Often considered the stepping stone in the overhyped career of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier is the Tom Doniphon of pugilistic history. The South Paw from Philadelphia was the heavyweight champion of the world from 1969-1973 and only lost to two men, - twice - Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. After his heavyweight heyday, it was revealed that “Smokin’ Joe” was partially blind from cataracts when he was World Heavyweight Champion.

Overcoming handicaps is something Joe Frazier was trained to do at a very young age. Frazier’s father, Rubin, lost his left arm a year before Joe was born. Growing up in rural North Carolina, Joe Frazier became his father’s “left hand man.” There is no irony that when he knocked down Ali in Superfight I forty years ago, Smokin’ Joe Frazier did it with a left hook. Given his perseverance growing up, it is appropriate that Joe Frazier has a cameo appearance in the original **Rocky.”

Photos copied from Joe Frazier's Official website. No copywright infringement intended;
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