Marvis Frazier

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Marvis Frazier
Frazier in 1996
Marvis Frazier

(1960-09-12) September 12, 1960 (age 63)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
NationalityUnited States United States
Other namesLittle Smoke[1]
Height6 ft 0+12 in (1.84 m)
Reach76 in (193 cm)
Boxing record
Total fights21
Wins by KO8
No contests0
Medal record
Men's amateur boxing
Representing  United States
Junior World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1979 Yokohama Heavyweight

Marvis Frazier (born September 12, 1960) is an American former professional boxer who fought in the heavyweight division.

Early life[edit]

Marvis was born September 12, 1960, in Philadelphia, the son of the then future world heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier. Marvis was at ringside for all of his father's fights after the second Oscar Bonavena bout in December 1968, including the great fights with Muhammad Ali.[2] Marvis exhibited four rounds with his father in Rochester, New York, on December 3, 1976, and staged another exhibition in 1977. His sister Jackie Frazier-Lyde was also a professional boxer, as was his brother Joe Frazier, Jr. (a.k.a. Hector Frazier). Marvis lived with his family in a 16-room stone split-level home in Whitemarsh.[3]

Marvis was involved in other sports, but finally gave it all up in favor of boxing, "I played football and basketball and I wrestled, and I love them all, especially football. I was a running back. When I was in ninth grade, Duke and Temple talked to me about going there. But I fell so much in love with boxing. I gave up the other sports. Once I get into a sport. I dedicate myself to it. I don't believe in concentrating on more than one thing," Marvis Frazier said on his choice of boxing. He graduated from Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in suburban Philadelphia[4]

Amateur career[edit]

Marvis was a highly touted prospect and among the top-ranked amateur heavyweights. He was the 1979 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion and 1980 National AAU Heavyweight Champion. He was coached partly by his father, and in part by Georgie Benton and Val Colbert. "My dad tried not to play too active a role in my career for fear of putting pressure on me," Marvis said.[5][6] Benton said that Marvis was a model kid. He grew up "like he was poor". According to Benton, "there were no favors. When the grass on the Fraziers' two-and-a-half acre plot needed cutting, Marvis did it. With a hand mower. He goes to choir practice Monday nights, Bible study Wednesday nights and church on Sunday. He doesn't smoke, drink or run around. Not because such strictures are demanded of him, but because that's the way he is boxing or no boxing."[7]

His amateur debut came on March 4, 1977, age 16, with a unanimous decision victory over David Bey in Philadelphia.[8]

In February 1979, Frazier was ranked #2 U.S. amateur heavyweight by the U.S. Amateur Boxers and Coaches Association,[9] and #1 by the Amateur Athletic Union.[5] Frazier was a runner-up for the 1979 Pan American Games,[10] where he was expected to meet Teófilo Stevenson for the first time in this competition.[11][12] He was concentrating on the Pan American trials and the Pan Am games, after that, he was aiming for a shot at the Olympics. "That's my goal," he said,[4] but ultimately did not take part in the Pan Am trials on the advice of his father. Joe Frazier thought his 19-year-old son was still too young and inexperienced to meet Stevenson.[12][13] Marvis didn't show at the 1979 National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado, because his father insisted that they send airplane tickets for an accompanying entourage of three people with all expenses paid.[14] Frazier also pulled out of the World Cup, staged in New York, in October 1979, for the event was largely neglected after Cuba was banned from participation after refusing to team-up with the U.S. to form the "North American team" to compete versus European and other world's athletes.[15]

Frazier intended to fly on LOT Polish Airlines Flight 7, where several of his teammates were killed, but his father always avoided flying, and forbade his son to fly as well. Frazier said of this experience:

Me, I love flying, but my father is the man of the house and he gave me an order not to go. I talked to my father on the phone this morning when he heard the news and he said 'See, son, I told you those planes will kill you,'" said Marvis.[16]

Among his best amateur wins were against future pro contender Mitch Green, and future champs Tim Witherspoon, and Bonecrusher Smith. He also decisioned amateur star Jimmy Clark (the #2 ranked amateur heavyweight in the country.[17]) He was KOd by James Broad, a man "I know nothing about,"[18] in the 1980 Olympic Trials finals.


His amateur record was 56 wins and 2 losses.

Marvis promised there will be no pro career.[19] "If I can get that Olympic medal, that's it. I'm going to college (Peirce Junior College in Philadelphia,) and then get in business," he said in 1979.[20] But trainer Georgie Benton saw greater potential, "He's on the road to being a defensive genius. Give me 18 months and I'll have him looking like another Houdini. If you hit him with one hand, you better forget about hitting him with that hand again. You might as well put it in your pocket He can do whatever the situation calls for. He's 18, and he's doing some things the top contenders don't do. Wait until he matures and develops a man's strength," Benton said.[21] Benton, predicted Marvis Frazier will be "the greatest heavyweight since Joe Louis."[22]

Professional career[edit]

As a professional, Frazier is best remembered for two first-round knockout losses: a technical knockout from champion Larry Holmes in 1983 and a knockout by rising Mike Tyson in 1986. Pitted against Holmes after just ten professional fights (all victories), Frazier's camp touted his speed and youth as significant advantages over the champion. During the first minute, Frazier taunted Holmes by dropping his hands to his sides and playfully moving his head back and forth. Holmes knocked down Frazier with a right lead two minutes into the fight. Frazier was able to get back up at the count of eight. Frazier, badly hurt, absorbed heavy punches from Holmes, who appealed for the referee to stop the fight. Finally, the referee stopped the fight with just a few seconds left in the first round. Many in the sports press criticized Frazier's father, Joe Frazier, for changing his son's style from that of an out-fighter (which brought Marvis success as an amateur) to an in-fighter, which many thought did not suit Marvis.

After his loss to Holmes, Frazier continued to fight and won his next six matches, including victories over future world cruiserweight champion Bernard Benton, heavyweight contenders José Ribalta and James Tillis, and future champion James "Bonecrusher" Smith. With the exception of a first-round knockout in his first fight after losing to Holmes, all of Frazier's fights went the full ten round distance with him winning unanimous or majority decisions in each fight.

This set up the fight with the 24–0 Tyson, which was broadcast live from the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York by ABC. Frazier quickly proved to be outmatched as Tyson landed a huge uppercut then followed with a combination that left Frazier unconscious. Referee Joe Cortez started to count while looking at Frazier, but immediately waved off the fight once he saw that Frazier was not responsive. The 30-second fight is Tyson's quickest knockout of his career.

Recalling the fight in later years, Frazier conceded that he had underestimated Tyson. "Tyson was just another guy who was going to be a statistic. Yeah, that's what I thought. I threw a jab and that's all I remember."[23]

After Tyson, Frazier did not fight for a title again. After nearly a year away from the ring, Frazier returned to fight twice in two months, winning both of his fights over journeymen fighters. He won his final fight against Phillipp Brown in 1988, retiring with a career record of 19–2.

Retirement and later life[edit]

After retiring from boxing, he became an ordained minister and active participant in Prison Fellowship Ministries.[24] Frazier appeared on The Howard Stern Show with his father to promote HBO's Thrilla in Manila documentary on April 2, 2009.[25]

In 2013, Frazier authored an autobiography, Meet Marvis Frazier: The Story of the Son of Smokin' Joe, with co-author Jamie Potter.

Professional boxing record[edit]

19 Wins (8 knockouts, 11 decisions), 2 Losses (2 knockouts)
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Win 19–2 Philipp Brown UD 10 1988-10-12 Tucson, Arizona
Win 18–2 Robert Evans UD 10 1987-08-10 Secaucus, New Jersey
Win 17–2 Tom Fischer TKO 2 (10), 2:47 1987-06-01 Secaucus, New Jersey
Loss 16–2 Mike Tyson KO 1 (10), 0:30 1986-07-26 Glens Falls, New York
Win 16–1 James Smith UD 10 1986-02-23 Richmond, California
Win 15–1 José Ribalta MD 10 1985-09-11 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 14–1 James Tillis UD 10 1985-05-20 Reno, Nevada
Win 13–1 Funso Banjo PTS 10 1984-12-05 London, UK
Win 12–1 Bernard Benton UD 10 1984-10-23 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 11–1 David Starkey TKO 1 (8), 2:50 1984-09-25 Pennsauken, New Jersey
Loss 10–1 Larry Holmes TKO 1 (12), 2:57 1983-11-25 Las Vegas, Nevada For The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles
Win 10–0 Joe Bugner UD 10 1983-06-04 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 9–0 James Broad UD 10 1983-04-10 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 8–0 Mike Cohen KO 2 1983-03-07 Charleston, South Carolina
Win 7–0 Amos Haynes TKO 5 (10), 2:23 1983-02-08 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 6–0 Guy Casale RTD 4 (8), 3:00 1981-09-16 Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 5–0 Tony Pulu UD 6 1981-08-22 Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 4–0 Steve Zouski KO 6 (6), 2:13 1981-05-11 New York, New York
Win 3–0 Melvin Epps UD 6 1981-04-10 New York, New York
Win 2–0 Dennis Rivera TKO 2 (4), 2:30 1980-10-10 New York, New York
Win 1–0 Roger Troupe TKO 3 (4), 2:08 1980-09-12 New York, New York


  1. ^ Smokin' at the Mike by Anthony Casale, Daily News from New York, August 6, 1978, 4-C.
  2. ^ Ring links Frazier and son, Detroit Free Press, April 20, 1979, p. 32.
  3. ^ Being Joe Frazier's son hasn't turned his head by Gary Ronberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 8, 1978, 5-C.
  4. ^ a b Second generation by Phil Pepe, Daily News from New York, April 9, 1979, p. 278.
  5. ^ a b Marvis Frazier Chases Gold (AP,) Albuquerque Journal, January 28, 1979, E-8.
  6. ^ Frazier, The Boston Globe, April 27, 1979, p. 77.
  7. ^ Smokin' Joe has a fightin' son by Alan Greenberg (The Los Awles Times,) The Minneapolis Star, April 17, 1979, 12C.
  8. ^ Boxing, Syracuse Herald, March 4, 1977, p. 22.
  9. ^ Amateur Boxing Rankings (UPI,) Galveston Daily News, February 15, 1979, p. 59
  10. ^ Frazier in trials by Mike Withiam, The Ithaca Journal, May 30, 1979, p. 13.
  11. ^ Like father, like son, this Frazier punching for gold medal by Red Smith (N.Y. Times News Service,) News-Press, April 22, 1979, 11C.
  12. ^ a b Stevenson may have easy time by Joe Carnicelli (AP,) Lowell Sun, July 2, 1979, p. 26.
  13. ^ Where's Marvis? by Bill Gollo, Daily News from New York, May 31, 1979, p. 85.
  14. ^ Missing Plane Tickets Kept Marvis Fraizer Home (AP,) Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 19, 1979, p. 63.
  15. ^ Cuban boxers are banned, News Record, September 18, 1979, p. 30.
  16. ^ Fate spares Clark, Marvis Frazier, by Chuck Slater and Bill Gallo, Daily News from New York, March 15, 1980, p. 385.
  17. ^ Frazier's Son Rings the Bell by Jack Riser, Philadelphia Daily News, March 17, 1979, p. 33.
  18. ^ No Easy Victory for Marvis by Ed Hinton, Philadelphia Daily News, June 17, 1980, p. 59.
  19. ^ Frazier Won't Rush Into Pro Ring, The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 2, 1979, C-3.
  20. ^ Ring links Frazier and son, Detroit Free Press, April 20, 1979, p. 23.
  21. ^ Marvis Frazier: The Evolution Of Another Champion by Alan Greenberg (The Los Awles Times,) The Atlanta Constitution, April 21, 1979, 3-C.
  22. ^ The best since the Brown Bomber? by Larry Wood, Calgary Herald, May 12, 1979, A1.
  23. ^ Dettloff, William (July 19, 2010). "Marvis Frazier never won title but has no regrets". The Ring.
  24. ^ Jones, Brent, ed. (April 19, 2007). "'Smokin' Joe' Frazier dropping suit against daughter". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2007.
  25. ^ "Show Rundown: April 2, 2009". 2 April 2009.

External links[edit]

Preceded by United States Amateur Heavyweight Champion
Succeeded by