Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Day Kyogle Lad 'Smoked' Joe; Heavyweight Champ Recalls Athol's Punch

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Day Kyogle Lad 'Smoked' Joe; Heavyweight Champ Recalls Athol's Punch

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Blomberg matt.blomberg@northernstar.com.au

IT HAS taken days of phone calls.

Each middle-man palms me off to the next.

Finally, I get to say: "G'day Mr Frazier."

"Mr what?" the voice shoots back.

"Call me Smoke. Smokin' Joe."

Cool. This is going to be fun.

Joe Frazier, 66, is in Australia for one week as a guest at his old foe Joe Bugner's 60th birthday charity dinner.

But I want to talk to him about another former Australian heavyweight he fought - Kyogle's own Olympian, Athol McQueen.

At first his recollection is sketchy.

"I remember kings and queens and hills and hotels," Smokin' Joe tells me.

"But I don't remember all that many fights. I had more than 100 bouts.

"Sometimes you wake up and don't know where you are."

Explicable considering the man has twice fought George Foreman and been 41 vicious rounds with Muhammad Ali.

I prompt: White guy, an Aussie, first guy to ever put you on your backside.

"Oh yeah," he says.

"McQueen. That boy can punch!"

In the quarter-finals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics McQueen floored the future champion with his trademark right hand.

As it turned out, Smokin' Joe dragged himself off the canvas, beat McQueen on points and won the gold medal.

And as history tells us, Smokin' Joe went on to enjoy a five-year reign as heavyweight champion of the world.

"I fought the best, nothin' but the best," he says.

The former champ is aghast with the standard of heavyweight boxing in the 21st Century, and when provoked can't help but take a swipe.

"There ain't nothin' for me to see there. I love sport but I can't bear to watch boxing these days. These boys aren't trained right."

With Mixed Martial Arts exploding on to the scene and potentially stealing much of boxing's limelight, who better to canvas an opinion from than Smokin' Joe. …

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