They braved the Nov cold and the whipping winds to line up outside of the Wells Fargo Center on Friday morning in tribute to a legend.
Old men in cowboy hats and canes, young men, pops with kids, and businessmen in suits standing alongside construction workers in mud-caked boots taking a little time from their jobs to pay their respects. NFL odds
Mourners started arriving around 9 a.m. For the public memorial viewing of former heavyweight champ Joe Frazier.
The two-day affair, put together by PhiliMayor Michael Nutter along with PhiliFlyers owner Ed Snider, is anticipated to draw 15,000 fans.
Frazier was laid out in the middle of the arena in a white, closed box, as per his will, with his trademark black cowboy hat sitting atop and a white blanket that said, “Heavyweight Champ of the World, Smokin ‘ Joe Joseph William “Joe” Frazier– Your mate, Jake.”
To the left of the box was an original fight poster of Frazier’s first epic battle against Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971, and an encased American flag. To the right was an autographed candid photograph of Frazier. NFL spreads
Friday’s public memorial is to run through 5 p.m. Saturday’s hours are 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Non-public funeral services for Joseph William “Joe” Frazierwill be held Monday at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, on 2800 West Cheltenham Ave, in Philadelphia. Ali is lined up to arrive Alongside former heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson.
Welterweight world champion Floyd Mayweather is donating money to incur some of the costs of the services. George Foreman, another old Joseph William “Joe” Fraziernemesis, will struggle to make it but has offered to assist in paying for some of the funeral costs.
Nearly every passing mourner, it looked, had either met Frazier personally or had an absorbing recollection of the Hall-of-Fame boxer.
Some stopped to take pictures with the casket, with lustrous gold handles and embroidery on the sides. Others took shots in front of Frazier’s portrait, and still others took camera telephone shots of the box and the memorial blanket lying on top.
“I met Joe thru my pop, who trains boxers,” Samantha Ramey declared. “I was taking a walk by him one time, he asked if I’d take a picture with him, and I turned and told him ‘I should be the one asking to take a snapshot with you. ‘ Joe had that smile, that championship smile. When I met him, he caused me to feel like I knew him his full life. That’s the type of man he was. He strolled around with a cane and that cowboy hat.”
Peter Lyde, Frazier’s son-in-law, let out a giggle when he remembered the first time he considered asking Frazier’s girl, Jacqui, out.
Lyde knew the Joseph William “Joe” Frazierfamily through Frazier’s nephew, Rodney. One time after a fight in new york City, the Fraziers convened in a hotel suite, Lyde recollected, when a shutter-bug hugged Jacqui a touch too tight for the former champ’s taste.
“It’s festive and everybody is having a great time, then all of a sudden you hear this booming voice say, ‘Hey you, get your hands off my daughter, ‘ and everybody stood still, because Joe was still imposing,” Lyde recalled.
“Joe had that voice, the few times he was crazy, that might cut through a room. The man was a true modern gladiator. I’m 6-foot-9 and Joe frightened me so bad I waited 2 years to ask Jacqui out before she became my wife.”
South Philadelphian Joe Pultrone came to the commemorative with his 9-old boy, Santino. Pultrone knew Joseph William “Joe” Frazierthrough the business and infrequently traveled with Frazier. He was fighting back strong feelings.
“What I could remember most about Joe is how he treated everyone with mutual respect, it was of no consequence who it was,” Pultrone said. “I’d get these calls in the middle of the night with that raspy voice, ‘Let’s go road dog, ‘ and the next thing you knew, I was with Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney at some clothing place getting fitted.”
But it’s the common fan that Joseph William “Joe” Frazierseemed to relate to the very best. Buck Estel, a 54-year-old enthusiastic boxing advocate from Maple Shade, N.J, was decked out in Philadelphia Eagles gear. It was Estel’s way of honoring the way Joseph William “Joe” Frazierpersonified Philadelphia, although Smokin ‘ Joe was born in Beaufort, S.C.
Estel was one of almost 50 mourners who went up and sat in the Wells Fargo Center stands, looking down on the white casket for 1 or 2 more minutes after paying their respects. He met Frazier for the 1st time one or two years gone in an Atlantic Town casino.
“After I met him, I had to go back to him three more times,” Estel recounted. “Joe was simply a real person. He took the time to talk to me and everyone around us. I remember returning to thank him for the time, and like a young child, calling my wife later informing her I met Joe Frazier. This town wants to construct a statue to him and put that in front of the art museum.
“The town should have embraced Joe a bit more, but I’m happy they are doing this for him.”