Meet Marvis Frazier: The Man who Tried to be like his Father By David Block

Being the son of the legendary boxer Smokin’ Joe Frazier, had its advantages for Marvis Frazier, 53. “I could have anything just like that,” said Marvis. Marvis was ecstatic that his father left his mark on the world of boxing. Smokin’ Joe was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1970 to 1973. He was also the first professional boxer to beat Muhammad Ali; March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden, New York.


After the fight, the 10-year-old Marvis wrote the following poem:

“Fly like a butterfly,

Sting like a bee,

Joe Frazier is the only one,

Who can beat Muhammad Ali.”

At a glance Marvis Frazier’s childhood seemed perfect, but it was not. “A lot of people wanted to

fight me,” said Marvis in a June 2014 interview with this writer. “Once I learned how to  fight, it wasn’t so bad.”

Marvis wanted to be a world-boxing champion just like his father. He wanted to bring the title back to the Frazier Family. The one person least happy with that goal was Smokin’ Joe. When this writer interviewed Smokin’ Joe Frazier in 2003, eight years before he died, the former champion said, “I boxed so my kids wouldn’t have to. I didn’t have choices, Marvis did.”


”My pop used to say, ‘be a doctor, lawyer, anything but don’t fight,’” Marvis remembered. “He knew it was a tough life.” But Marvis was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps.


The circumstances for Joe Frazier becoming a fighter were different. He grew up poor and often hungry. He never finished high school; boxing was his way out of poverty and free of dead-end minimum wage jobs. Marvis, on the other hand, grew up the son of a wealthy man. Life was comfortable; life was good to Marvis. But luxury and comfort are not the ideal ingredients for boxers. Marvis inherited the Frazier pride and determination to follow through with his dream of boxing.


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Val Colbert and George Benton and Smokin’ Joe trained Marvis. Marvis Frazier’s boxing record was 19 wins and 2 losses.

One of his proudest wins was over James Broad, April 10, 1983 at Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey. When they boxed each other as amateurs in 1980 for an Olympic-spot, Broad beat Marvis. “I had a pinched nerve,” Marvis remembered. “Otherwise I would have beaten him.” Had the U.S. not boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, Broad would have represented the U.S. Beating Broad in ’83 felt incredibly satisfying. Another noteworthy win for Marvis was against James “Bone Crusher” Smith on February 23, 1986 in Richmond, California. In the fifth round, Smith broke Marvis’s jaw. After the round, Marvis’s cousin tried to convince him to stop the fight. Marvis remembered, “I said, ‘You’re not stopping nothing! I’m kicking this guy’s tail!’” And he did.


His Two Losses


Marvis fought Larry Holmes for the heavyweight championship November 25, 1983 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the night he had long been waiting for. It was the night that he was going to bring the title back to the Frazier Family. However, Holmes defeated him in the first round.


After the fight, Marvis broke down and cried. He felt as if he let his father down, but the former champion greeted his son with a huge hug and said, “I love you.”


Marvis’s other loss was to a then unknown young boxer by the name of Mike Tyson. Before the fight, Marvis mistakenly assumed that Tyson would just be another statistic. When they fought on July 26, 1986 at the Civic Center, Glen Falls, New York, Tyson knocked him out in the first round. In 1988, the 28-year-old Marvis Frazier retired. “I had enough,” he said.


Marvis became a reverend. He will preach the word of God whenever he can. “I also like to help people who can’t help themselves.”

To learn more about Marvis Frazier, you can order the book Meet Marvis Frazier by Jamie Potter and Marvis Frazier. For more information about purchasing the book and/or to learn more about Marvis, log onto

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