Joe Frazier Gave Boxer Larry Holmes His First Break

To Larry Holmes, Smokin' Joe is the indestructible champ who gave a young boxer his first break. Literally.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    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.

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    The only thing hotter than the stogies in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton were the band of boxing champions, including Smokin' Joe Frazier, who were in town to raise money for improving education for low-income children at the annual FIGHT NIGHT. Founded by Real Estate mogul Joe Robert, Jr., the event raises millions of dollars for good causes annually.

    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."