Throughout Muhammad Ali‘s legendary boxing career, he was box office material behind his dominance in the ring and unmistakable banter toward his opponents. Ali brought it all to the craft that made him a legendary sports figure. However, he didn’t always make the right move as he later regretted his racist remarks directed at Joe Frazier.
Muhammad Ali thrived off his trash talking
Beyond Muhammad Ali‘s dominance in the squared circle, he was the maestro of trash talk.
Ali’s banter took his legacy to the next level as it brought another entertainment factor to the mix. Not only did he make bold predictions, but he backed it up in the ring. It’s a significant part of why he became a lightning rod for the sport as must-see TV throughout much of his career.
However, it wasn’t all golden as Ali’s trash talk didn’t always convey the best of messages, as was the case with his dealings with Joe Frazier.
Muhammad Ali fires off racist remark directed at Joe Frazier
Muhammad Ali was the epitome of an entertainer in his craft, which he developed a strong reputation for his legendary trash-talking before fights.
Ali often toed the line with his comments toward his opponents to stir up their emotions. He certainly didn’t hesitate to use his brashness before each of his three fights against Joe Frazier.
According to The News Daily, his feud with Frazier went well beyond their bouts as he taunted him over the years concerning his looks, his intelligence and called him an “Uncle Tom.”
“He’s the other type Negro, he’s not like me,” Ali once told an interviewer. “That’s what I mean when I say Uncle Tom – I mean, he’s a brother, one day he might be like me, but for now, he works for the enemy.”
These comments stuck with Frazier that created lasting resentment toward Ali wen beyond their boxing. That rang crystal clear as he reviled in Ali’s deteriorating health issues that made him a shell of himself.
“Him and me had three fights – he won two of them, I won one,” Frazier said. “But if you look at him now, you can see who won them all. Me.”
Joe Frazier accepted his apology years later
Joe Frazier carried disdain toward Muhammad Ali that lasted well past his boxing career.
Simultaneously, as Ali’s health worsened due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, it gave him an entirely different perspective on life. His changed mindset led him to apologize to Frazier in March 2001 for the harsh words during his boxing career. (H/T New York Times)
”In a way, Joe’s right. I said a lot of things in the heat of the moment that I shouldn’t have said. Called him names I shouldn’t have called him. I apologize for that. I’m sorry. It was all meant to promote the fight.”
Ali’s comments toward Joe Frazier cut him deep emotionally, leading to lingering resentment. Despite all that, Frazier accepted Ali’s apology to finally move on from the situation.
”I accept that,” he said in a telephone interview from Wildwood, N.J. ”I’ll accept it, shake his hand and hug him when I see him. We’re grown guys. This has been going on too long. It’s like we’ve been fighting the Vietnam War. We’re two athletes of the world. Why we been biting off bullets? We have to embrace each other. It’s time to talk and get together. Life’s too short.”
Things may have remained unresolved much further than they should have, but the two found internal peace with each other.