Muhammad Ali and boxing greats attend Joe Frazier funeral

Muhammad Ali and a host of boxing greats were in attendance at the funeral of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in Philadelphia on Monday.

The likes of Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson also turned out to pay their respects at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Frazier won the Olympic gold medal in 1964 and was a heavyweight world champion from 1968 to 1973.

But Frazier will be eternally linked with Ali thanks to their 1970s fights.

In a series of three bouts, "Smokin' Joe" Frazier won the first fight before Ali took the second and third in a series of matches ranked among the most famous in the history of the sport.

And in a moving tribute, Reverend Jackson made a case for the city of Philadelphia to honour Frazier, comparing him to a boxing film legend, portrayed in movies by Sylvester Stallone, of whom there is a statue in the city.

"Rocky is an imaginary figure who never existed," said Jackson. "Rocky never tasted his own blood. Rocky never faced Ken Norton. He never faced Ali. He never faced Larry Holmes.

"Joe paid real dues and he is a guy who we can emulate because of his sense of family, an ordinary Joe with extraordinary things.

"He remained our neighbour. He remained a church member. He remained a guy from the streets, so Philadelphia will honour itself by honouring Joe Frazier, but better late than never."

When asked by reporters how Frazier should be remembered, Jackson replied: "As a great boxing champion and a great humanitarian. A boxing champion because he won the gold medal, because he was the real world champion, because he did not inherit, he earned it."

Meanwhile, Frazier's daughter Renar Frazier-Martin - one of 11 children and 28 grandchildren of Frazier's - said she would remember him for "always being there for his children, especially because when you have 11 kids, it's hard. But he's always been there for all of us, and the grandkids and family."

In a two-hour service, Tyson, business magnate Donald Trump and actor Mickey Rourke sent videotaped messages of condolences.

Top Stories