Frazier’s Gym Gets Rightful Nod As Being Historically Relevant
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Frazier’s Gym Gets Rightful Nod As Being Historically Relevant
By Jason Petock, Doghouse Boxing (May 1, 2013)

"Philadelphia is the capital of boxing and I believe Joe Frazier's gym is the White House." - Marvis Frazier (19-2/8 KOs)
("Philadelphia is the capital of boxing and I believe Joe Frazier's gym is the White House." - Marvis Frazier)
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"Philadelphia is the capital of boxing and I believe Joe Frazier's gym is the White House." - Marvis Frazier (19-2/8 KOs)

There was a white sign that hung on the wall in “Smokin” Joe Frazier’s (32-4-1/27 KOs) gym for several years. At the top read the title, “Creed Of Joe Frazier’s Gym”. It was a guideline for the designated mantra of the gym and the words on the rest of the sign read as if they were a simple but narrative account of Frazier’s entire career and essence through words. A literal question and answer chant of and for true greatness personified. It read as follows, “Who’s The Best? We’re The Best! Who’s The Best Team? We’re The Best Team? Why Are We The Best? Because We Work Hard! Why Are We The Best? Because We Sacrifice! Why Do We Work Hard? Because We’re Disciplined. Why Do We Sacrifice? Because When You Give Something Up Something Will Come Back! Why Are We Disciplined? Because Without Discipline There Is Nothing!” Frazier built his incredible legacy from the ground up as an amateur (38-2), Olympian, and professional in the craft of boxing by utilizing these tried and true affirmations and giving his very all in the ring and then some after the tank had been all but emptied. Boxing pundits can talk about Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali (56-5/37 KOs) all day long, but you can’t mention Ali’s name in a single breath without remembering the greatness that Frazier also brought to the ring when he fought during his career.

Philadelphia’s roots are embedded deep within the city. Philly is a boxing town and always has been. Everywhere you look there are reminders of how much boxing is in Philly’s blood and how much it has had to fight to remain there. There’s the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in South Philly East, and at one point a few years ago you had the famed but now closed Blue Horizon which sadly and unfortunately fell to City Hall’s calling it “a public nuisance” and the pressure of development and taxes instead of culture and importance. Frazier’s Gym served not only as a historical landmark in the “City Of Brotherly Love”, but a reminder of how important Joe was to Philadelphia and to boxing as a whole. Frazier won the Golden Gloves as a Heavyweight in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Ironically on his way to get his slot at the 1964 Olympics, Joe suffered his only loss as an amateur to Buster Mathis. While Mathis made the team he was injured and had to pull out, with Frazier ending up taking his spot and winning the Gold medal for the U.S. in Tokyo, Japan with a victory over Han Huber of Germany in the finals. Frazier as a pro was the NYSAC World Heavyweight Champion from 1968 – 1970 and the WBC and WBA Heavyweight Champion from 1970-1973.

Frazier’s Gym began its humble beginnings way back in 1968, known at first as the Cloverlay Gym (one in the same Cloverlay, Inc. that managed Frazier), and established itself as a North Philadelphia bastion of boxing for years while located where West Glenwood Avenue and North Broad Street meet. More recently, after loads of fighting and a tireless battle that resembled the very ring wars that Frazier took part in during his hard-nosed and memorable career, the legendary gym has finally been recognized for its true worth and has been included in the National Register of Historic Places. Of all of the victories that Frazier ever won, be it Ali, Quarry, Foster, or Ellis, this latest victory for the legendary fighter who was trained by renowned trainer Eddie Futch tops them all in comparison. His gym can now proudly continue on, standing the test of time and a forever testament to the late Champions honor. All of the countless rounds of sparring, the laborious training, the blood, sweat and tears over the years will remain forever rooted and breathing eternally in the memories of the walls of Frazier’s Gym. Frazier’s first trainer, “Yank” Yancey Durham, used to tell Frazier before his bouts, “Go out there and make smoke come from those gloves. You can make smoke, just don’t let up,” and thus the nickname “Smokin’ Joe stuck.

Joe Frazier literally lived upstairs and trained downstairs for years at the three-storied gym and residence, as he remained so closely intertwined and true to the brutal discipline that he clearly knew and loved so much. Once named one of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” in 2012, the building doesn’t have to contend with that distinction anymore. Today, and for everyday after that, Frazier’s Gym can now stand as a beacon of hope among the boxing landscape and a historical icon that will educate and inspire future generations to come. Frazier was known for a devastating left hook that felled many an opponent during his era, and Larry Holmes said it best about “Smokin” Joe when he raged at the public with, “They took his house, they took his goddamned gym, they took a car, they took his manhood. They put a statue up there of “Rocky” Stallone. He never fought. Joe didn’t get a statue!” “Smokin” Joe Frazier may have not gotten an 8’ 6” tall bronze statue in his own likeness for making a movie, but he did get his gym and home back. And that’s worth far more than all the bronze, silver, gold or anything else in the world that falsely holds any actual worth. Frazier’s Gym has substantial, real worth and that’s something they can never take away from him. Welcome home Champ. R.I.P.
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