While the New York Times’ Vincent M. Mallozzi has been the occasional object of ridicule around these parts, a tip of the vomit-encrusted Mets cap goes his way this fine morning for his profile of former heavyweight champ, Joe Frazier.
Over the years, Frazier has lost a fortune through a combination of his own generosity and naÃ¯vetÃ©, his carousing, failed business opportunities and a deep hatred for his former chief boxing rival, Muhammad Ali. The other headliners from his fighting days ” Ali, George Foreman and Larry Holmes ” are millionaires.
But while Ali has benefited from lucrative licensing agreements and remains one the world™s most recognized and celebrated athletes, Frazier lives alone in an apartment one staircase above the gym where he and others train young fighters in a run-down part of town.
œThis is my primary residence, he said. œDon™t matter much. I™m on the road most of the time, anyway.
Asked about his situation, Frazier became playfully defensive, but would not reveal his financial status.
œAre you asking me how much money I have? he said. œI got plenty of money. I got a stack of $100 bills rolled up over there in the back of the room.
Frazier blamed himself, partly, for not effectively promoting his own image.
œI don™t think I handled it right, because I certainly could have gone out more and done better for myself over the years, he said. œI could have left the gym a little more to be on the road.
He added: œBut I guess, in a way, I™m rich, too. I have my family and I have a sound mind and a sound body, and after all of those brutal fights, I™m lucky to still have my eyesight.
Darren Prince, Frazier™s marketing manager since 1995, said Frazier remained beloved by fans. But he also said that Frazier™s longstanding animosity toward Ali had hurt him financially.
œThey were bitter rivals, and Muhammad always made jokes about Joe, calling him things like an Uncle Tom and a gorilla, and Joe was hurt so he fired back, but sometimes he went too far, said Prince, who recalled that when Ali lighted the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996, Frazier told a reporter that he would like to throw Ali into the fire.
Frazier™s frequent insistence that he won all three of his fights against Ali also did not endear him to potential sponsors, Prince said.
When told of Prince™s remarks, Frazier said, œI am who I am, and yes, I whipped Ali all three times.
In fact, Frazier lost two of the three fights, including the Thrilla in Manila bout in 1975. Frazier exposed an emotional scar as he recalled those days.
œAli kept calling me ugly, but I never thought of myself as being any uglier than him, he said. œI have 11 babies ” somebody thought I was cute.
On Nov. 30, Frazier will box Willie W. Herenton, the 66-year-old mayor of Memphis, in a three-round charity bout at the Peabody Memphis Hotel. Herenton is a former amateur boxing champion.
œHe must have a death wish, Frazier said.