Monday, January 12, 2015

THE WISDOM OF … Joe Frazier (Jan 12, 1944 – Nov 7, 2011)

Joe Frazier would’ve been 71 today. He passed away 3 yrs ago. Posting something he did with Esquire Magazine in his honor.

Happy 71st Birthday Champ!


Click for larger pic

I grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina, in a six-room farmhouse with a couple of leaning posts to keep it from fallin'. I came up in a time when men were men. They didn't wear no earrings.

When I was born, people came to the house and gathered round to see if I was missin' an arm. See, my dad was missin' his left hand and part of his left forearm. And those people didn't realize that my dad's missin' arm didn't have nothing to do with genes. I never asked him what happened. Don't know what exactly. But the story I heard was that another man tried to kill him in an argument over a woman.

You could say that was the root of my left hook. When I was a boy, I used to pull a big cross saw with my dad. He'd use his right hand, so I'd have to use my left.

I got a burlap sack, put a brick in the middle, and filled it with rags, corncobs, some Spanish moss, and sand. I hung that sack off the branch of an oak tree. I'd wrap my hands with a necktie of my daddy's and punch at it. My mom gave me an hour a day. My brothers and sisters said, "Nah." I said, "You'll see."

When your mom dies, that's you.

Had my own car at twelve years old. Left school in the tenth grade. Married when I was sixteen. Ain't hard to figure out; I was a man at a very young age.

I came up in Martin Luther King's time, and it was really rough. Remember those boys wiped out in Mississippi? There was a problem with a black kid on the farm where my daddy and I worked, the Bellamy farm. The boy had screwed up one of the tractors without meaning to, and one of the Bellamy brothers took his belt off and beat the child in the field. I didn't think it was right. "Well, if you keep talkin', boy," the older Bellamy brother said, "I'm gonna take my belt to you." And I told him, "You better keep that belt on to hold your pants up." He didn't do nothin'. But I had to leave, get on the Dog and head up north. Greyhound. If I stayed, there was nothin' ahead but bad times.

Nothin' wrong with an ass whuppin' every now and then. You take away the ass whuppin's and what do you get? You get people wearin' pants below their belly buttons. I'm tellin' you, you go out these days and see the crack of a young lady's butt. It's crazy, man. They should be locked up for indecent exposure. Look here. See? Suspenders! And a belt! I ain't takin' no chances.

Nobody knows where the nose goes when the door's closed.

There are places on a man's head that are as hard as a rock. Your head's actually stronger than your body. And you don't have too many instruments up there workin'. But you got a lot of tools workin' in that body: the liver, the kidneys, the heart, the lungs. You soften that up and see what happens. I lived by the body shot.

Fridays and Saturdays are holidays for black people.

Ali's problem was that he knew I wasn't afraid. That's why he was always looking for those little things that would set me off. He did a damn good job of it, too. Called me ugly. Said I was ignorant. Said I was too small. Called me a gorilla. Ever see the poster promotin' the fight in Manila? Look at the drawings by LeRoy Neiman. Look at me on that poster and then look at Planet of the Apes. And you tell me what's goin' on.

I said some things in the past, but the truth is I love to see the Butterfly these days. He says, "We're two baaaaaad brothers." But after all this time, there are some things I'll never understand. Why'd he say, "I am thee greatest"? You would never say, "That is thee picture." You'd say, "That is the picture." I am thee greatest. Every word he said about himself: "I am thee."

I wasn't a big guy. People thought the big guys would eat me up. But it was the other way around. I loved to fight bigger guys. Only one big guy I didn't like to fight. That was George. Fightin' George Foreman is like being in the street with an eighteen-wheeler comin' at you.

I don't see any difference in sex drive from the time I was twenty until now. A man ordinarily can have sex anytime. Ain't that right?

I had my Olympic gold medal cut up into eleven pieces. Gave all eleven of my kids a piece. It'll come together again when they put me down.


Esquire Magazine

January 2004

What I’ve Learned:  Joe Frazier

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