More than 3,000 people mourned the loss of legendary boxer Smokin’ Joe Frazier at a “Homegoing Celebration” held today at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Among those who attended the nearly four-hour memorial were Muhammad Ali, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Larry Holmes, Mayor Michael Nutter and other notable figures from sports, civil-rights movements and the Philadelphia community.
Here are 12 notable quotes from the scene outside, and inside, the church:
12. “He gave millions to charity, but when he was down and out, how come they didn’t help the Champ out? He loved this city. He was a Rocky movie. A legacy is what you do when you don’t get paid for it because you don’t care about your pocketbook. People in Philadelphia need to write a check to get a Joe Frazier statue built, to buy [Joe Frazier’s] gym back.” – Michael Stallone, son of Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone.
11. “He cried. He cried.” – Stallone on his father’s reaction to hearing of Frazier’s death. He couldn’t attend because he was in Bulgaria filming “The Expendables 2.”
10. “I’m not sure how it feels right now. … Twenty-eight grandchildren, 11 children, family, that’s his legacy for us.” – Renae Frazier, Smokin’ Joe’s oldest daughter.
9. “Kids used to heckle Marvis [Frazier] about his dad, saying ‘Ali, Ali, Ali’ before their first fight, but not me. I’d say, ‘Frazier, Frazier, Frazier.’ But when Joe was around, nobody said anything.” – “Town Watch” Tony Carroll whose friends lived across Oxford Street from the Fraziers in the early 1970s.
8. “Tear that Rocky down and put Joe Frazier up! Or, just put the Rocky statue somewhere else.” – Sharon Johnson, a Frazier fan recalling that she lived across the street from one of Frazier’s nieces and the Champ would be cordial to everyone each time he dropped her off at the house.
7. “Joe was a great dude. A good father. A God-fearing man. A good spirit. He loved and lived for his family.” — Michael Spinks, retired boxer.
6. “In Philly, he will always remain the People’s Champ. He was not a Hollywood creation with theme music.” – Letter of condolence from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady read during the services.
5. “With one of his left hooks, Ali went down on his ass. He was a warrior’s warrior, man. They don’t make ’em like Joe Frazier.” – Video of condolence from actor Mickey Rourke played during the services.
4. “He never left us. He made us feel better about ourselves. He went from the slaughterhouse in South Carolina to the King of the Ring at Madison Square Garden. An Ordinary Joe rose to extreme heights with the special genius of hard work and dedication. … Tell them Rocky is not a champ. Joe Frazier was. Tell them! Tell them! Appeal to the mayor, appeal to the City Council, there should be a statue of the likeness of Joe Frazier in downtown Philadelphia. God Bless, and long live the legacy of, Joe Frazier.” – Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. speaking to the service.
3. “I met Muhammad Ali, 29th and Dauphin. At the time, people said I looked like Joe Frazier. Ali said that too. He didn’t smile. He kept the expression a little longer than I would have liked. Was he thinking about that left hook? When he finally smiled, I was happy.” – Greg Brinkley, Philadelphia chapter of the National Action Network, speaking on behalf of the Rev. Al Sharpton who couldn’t attend.
2. “We were running a daycare ministry and every time Marvis [Frazier] came in, he’d say ‘Do you know who I am? Joe Frazier is my daddy.’ Marvis, you still have something to brag about.” Rev. James S. Hall Jr., Triumph Baptist Church.
1. “If you fight a good fight, you’re going to take some lumps along the way. … You can’t let a bad round keep you down. You can be good at LA Fitness hitting something that doesn’t hit you back, but how do you handle it when you get knocked down? One of the things Joe Frazier teaches us is how to live after the struggle. After ‘Down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier, what did it feel like to be Joe Frazier when life knocked him down hard? He got back up. He is a hero. Next time someone tells you you’re down for the count, tell them ‘I’m from Philly, where Joe Frazier was from. We get back up.'” Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller, delivering the Frazier eulogy.