Sparring with Smokin’ Joe: Joe Frazier’s Epic Battles and Rivalry with Ali

Glenn Lewis. Rowman & Littlefield, $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-53813-679-9
In this fascinating account, journalist Lewis (The Big Beauty Book) chronicles the life of heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier and his rivalry with Muhammad Ali. Lewis charts Frazier’s rise from southern farm boy to 1964 Olympic heavyweight boxing champion, and argues that the Frazier-Ali rivalry that followed was arguably “the greatest individual rivalry in all of sports.” At its apex in the early 1970s, Ali was widely viewed as a radical “audacious Muslim spokesman for disenchanted people of color” while, despite being Black, Frazier was “cast by Ali, then many others as... ‘the White Man’s Champion’ ” due to his Southern sharecropping upbringing. Lewis writes that Frazier viewed this portrayal as a betrayal since Frazier helped Ali get his boxing license and lent him money when things got tight. Lewis’s access to Frazier’s family, meanwhile, offers insight into the fighter’s personal life and his influence on his son, Marvis, who became a champion boxer and told Lewis, ”I never wanted anything for my father. All I wanted was his love. That’s all.” Lewis brings a painstaking level of detail to his breakdown of the famous rivalry. This is a knockout. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/02/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-5381-3680-5
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