Joe Frazier Funeral: Boxing Greats Pay Respect

Joe Frazier’s funeral took place on Monday at a sun-drenched Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

The heavyweight boxing legend was laid to rest with his championship belt and a pair of gloves atop his casket, in a ceremony attended by a who’s-who of boxing’s most famous figures.

Former champs Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes were in attendance, as was promoter Don King. And Mike Tyson, real estate magnate Donald Trump and actor Mickey Rourke all sent emotional videotaped messages of condolence.

USA Today reports how a “frail and trembling” Ali, his body ravaged by Parkinson’s, was amongst 4,000 people who packed the church in honor of Frazier, the man who inflicted Ali’s first ever defeat.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson led the service, describing Frazier in his eulogy as someone who “came from segregation, degradation and disgrace to amazing grace”:

“Tell them Rocky was not a champion. Joe Frazier was. Tell them Rocky is fictitious, Joe was reality. Rocky’s fists are frozen in stone. Joe’s fists are smokin’. Rocky never faced Ali or Holmes or Foreman. Rocky never tasted his own blood. Champions are made in the ring not in the movies. There deserves to be a statue of Joe Frazier in downtown Philadelphia.”

Frazier died last week of liver cancer, aged 67.

He first won the heavyweight title in 1970 by beating Jimmy Ellis at Madison Square Garden. In 1975, he fought Ali in what is widely known as ‘The Fight of the Century.’ Ali prevailed after Frazier was prevented by his own trainer from coming out for the fifteenth round. Ali would later describe the experience as the closest thing to death he could imagine.

RIP, Joe.

Frazier died last week of liver cancer, aged 67.