Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s feud with Muhammad Ali cools

Boxing legend Joe Frazier is again the focus of a story of mine, though this time I’ve filed a Frazier piece for Sports Illustrated, likely the most recognizable brand in sports reporting for a half-century.

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier is still fighting.

The former heavyweight champion of the world is 65 now, and his mind isn’t nearly as quick as his fists once were. His days are often spent traveling for appearances, doing interviews and signing autographs. He maintains the same workout routine he had in his prime, and he still rises at 4 a.m., restless and beholden to a schedule he no longer has to keep. [Source]

Go read the full story, comment and then come back here for some of the backstory.

This comes less than a week after I filed an audio report for WHYY on Frazier. When filing that story, I found it so interesting that when I brought up Muhammad Ali to Frazier, for the first time in at least three interviews, he was delicate with the issue. He expressed sympathy, compassion and what seemed like a genuine interest in helping.

Despite accounts of the documentary coming out while the Frazier and Ali rivalry remained hot, it now seems it has all but died. Frazier is even appearing in a documentary about Ali, even though it appears again to be playing into the Ali mythology.

I knew I had another story that was too big for my WHYY piece – particularly considering their audience wouldn’t much care about the specifics of an old boxing rivalry — even if it’s likely the most celebrated in the sport’s history.

I rushed a series of friends and colleagues to get a contact, spruced up some old notes and packaged it with some of my latest interview.

I pitched an editor who wanted the piece, particularly with the time-hook of the documentary. In less than a week, I filed the story, made requested revisions, filed out paperwork, signed a contract and had my very first story for a national brand. I hope it’s the first of many.

On a completely unrelated note of serendipity, Sports Illustrated is coincidentally just as old as WHYY; both were launched in 1954. Magic, eh?

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