Yesterday I read about Joe Fraizer moving to a hospice because of his fight with cancer. This morning when I woke up, I did my usual routine, Brushed teeth, took shower, set up to walk the dogs, grab my phone to check email and begin to walk the dogs. As I turned on my phone I sawan AP news flash that Smokin’ Joe had died last night. I stopped as the news hit like a ton of bricks.
Maybe it was because I had just recently (over the weekend) lost my oldest living relative (97 years old), so I had recently dealt with death or maybe it was back when I was a child (7 years old) I actually met Joe Fraizer but I felt terrible reading that news. I did not know Joe but after hearing an interview with him last year when the documentary about Ali and Fraizer came out. From the interview and from reading many books on the subject I came to realize that although Fraizer was considered almost a villain in these fights, he really was a nice guy.
Of course I also thought back to when I met him. I was 7 eating breakfast with my mom and dad at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. I loved picking numbers for the Keno games that came up once every 10 minutes. As we were finishing up our meal, I heard my dad tell my mom that Joe Fraizer had just sat down at a table near us. As we got up to leave, my dad took me by the hand and went up to Fraizer to ask for an autograph. Joe looked at me and asked for my name, he then shook my hand and smiled and said it was nice to meet me. He then asked me what my favorite Keno numbers were as he signed an autograph for my dad and I. All I remember is his hands wear like boulders as he shook my hand I was just in awe of how big they were. The other thing I will remember is even while he was out with his friend eating breakfast, he still was a gentleman in how he handled himself with fans.
As with any recent death, upon the news he had died, his signed items started to spiral upwards in price. I still have his autograph, on a napkin from the Desert Inn. I likely will never sell it, nor make it into a card. Instead it sits at my parent’s house, where my dad can tell the story about how he and I met Joe Fraizer. Rest in peace Joe, you will always be remembered as a kind and funny man.