NBC Philadelphia, Joe Shimell
Larry Holmes was a 22-year-old boxer when Smokin' Joe Frazier needed a sparring partner.
News this past week of legendary boxer Joe Frazier's diagnosis of liver cancer has hit his family, friends and the boxing world hard.
"I never thought Joe Frazier would have cancer," said another famous boxing champ and friend of Frazier's, Larry Holmes.
To Holmes, Joe Frazier, 67, is the indestructible champ who gave a young boxer his first break, literally.
"He broke my ribs! He broke my ribs and I kept going! I didn't care!"
Holmes was a 22-year old boxer when Frazier needed a sparring partner.
"He hired me and paid me $375 a week and put me up in the best hotel and gave me the best food and he picked me up every day to go run," Holmes remembers. Larry says he'd been trying to call his old friend when he learned of Frazier's late-stage liver cancer and that he is now in hospice.
"They said he don't want to talk and they don't want anyone to see him because he's lost over fifty-some pounds."
Holmes hopes Philadelphia will put up a statue of Joe Frazier as a real boxer who believed in hard work and helping young fighters out of poverty.
"What we need to do is pray for Joe," Holmes said. "If there is a miracle, we hope he gets it."