Let me start by saying this is no way an endorsement of the rather classless things UK boxer Dereck Chisora did to Vitali Klitschko before their WBC Heavyweight Championship fight on Saturday. First, at the weigh-in Chisora slapped Klitschko right across the face, which started a small tussle that really didn’t go anywhere because of Vitali’s completely ice cold murderer stoicism. Almost anyone caught up with what’s went on in the boxing world for the last four years or so seemed to indicate this meant Chisora had a deathwish. If that wasn’t bad enough, as the match was approaching the opening bell, Chisora took the opportunity to get nose-to-nose with Vitali’s brother Wladimir (aka, #2 pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and reigning IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight Champion) and then be so kind as to spit water in his face. This incident again was snuffed out by the eerie Ukrainian stoicism Wladimir responded with, but pushed the fight to must-see levels of interest.
“Smokin’” Joe Frazier died this past Monday of liver cancer at the age of 67. It is sort of eerie considering that I just posted an article about George Bellows’ boxing studies earlier this week.
Frazier was both an Olympic Gold Medalist and the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion from 1970-72. He will be remembered for his epic battles with Ali and Foreman in the early 70′s. If you haven’t seen Frazier fight, do yourself a favor and watch him defend his title against Ali in “The Fight Of The Century,” on March 8th, 1971 at Madison Square Garden (in five parts below). Keep in mind while watching that both men were going in to this fight with undefeated professional records as Ali was stripped of his title and suspended from boxing for three years.
And to think they fought twice more after this, though never recreating the action of the first bout. If you take a look at the post I did on George Bellows, you can see some of the same violent clashes in this fight.
Frazier retired in1976 after a second loss to George Foreman (he had one comeback fight in 1981). He owned and managed a boxing gym in Philly for the remainder of his life. When Frazier’s nemesis, Muhummad Ali, heard of his untimely death he said, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.” I will too.
In 1995, my parents were eating at a restaurant in Atlantic City. My father noticed that Smokin’ Joe was sitting at a table a few feet away. He humbly asked Frazier for a signature (for me). My father says that shaking his hand was like shaking a catcher’s mit. In any event, I have a bar napkin signed by Smokin’ Joe at the bottom of my father’s sock drawer. I’m lucky. He was a great fighter.
When I was younger, my father, who was (and still is) a Hudson River painting collector/dealer, tried desperately to expose me to as many different things as possible and is probably the main reason that I am the collector/hoarder that I am today. I do greatly enjoy and respect the luminescent pastorals that the Hudson River School had to offer and hung from time to time in my house, but at the same time, they were not the types of paintings that I saw myself owning and hanging in my own house.
One evening, my father, as he was wont to do, asked me to review a Sotheby’s catalog with him in our living room at home. There were a number of Hudson River School paintings of interest that were up for auction, but as he continued to flip through, something caught my eye. It was a lithograph of Bellows’ “Preliminaries (to the Big Bout)” (1916).
The subject matter coupled with the close attention to figures and Continue reading