Marvis Frazier

Last updated
Marvis Frazier
Marvis Frazier 1996.jpg
Real nameMarvis Frazier
Nickname(s)Little Smoke [1]
Weight(s) Heavyweight
Height6 ft 0 12 in (1.84 m)
Reach76 in (193 cm)
Nationality Flag of the United States.svg United States
Born (1960-09-12) September 12, 1960 (age 60)
Beaufort County, South Carolina
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights21
Wins by KO8
No contests0
Medal record
Men's amateur boxing
Representing Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Junior World Championships
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1979 Yokohama Heavyweight

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


Early life

Marvis is the son of former heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer, 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 battles 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

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

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 floored Frazier with a long right hand two minutes into the fight. Frazier took an eight-count and got back up. Frazier, badly hurt, absorbed heavy punches from Holmes, who appealed for the referee to act. Finally, the referee stopped the fight with just a few seconds left in the first round, awarding Holmes a technical knockout. 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

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 completed his autobiography, Meet Marvis Frazier: The Story of the Son of Smokin' Joe, with co-author Jamie Potter.

Professional boxing record

19 Wins (8 knockouts, 11 decisions), 2 Losses (2 knockouts)
Res.RecordOpponentTypeRd., TimeDateLocationNotes
Win19–2Philipp BrownUD101988-10-12 Tucson, Arizona
Win18–2Robert EvansUD101987-08-10 Secaucus, New Jersey
Win17–2Tom FischerTKO2 (10), 2:471987-06-01Secaucus, New Jersey
Loss16–2 Mike Tyson KO1 (10), 0:30 1986-07-26 Glens Falls, New York
Win16–1 James Smith UD101986-02-23 Richmond, California
Win15–1 José Ribalta MD101985-09-11 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win14–1 James Tillis UD101985-05-20 Reno, Nevada
Win13–1Funso BanjoPTS101984-12-05 London, UK
Win12–1 Bernard Benton UD101984-10-23Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win11–1David StarkeyTKO1 (8), 2:501984-09-25 Pennsauken, New Jersey
Loss10–1 Larry Holmes TKO1 (10), 2:571983-11-25 Las Vegas, Nevada For The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles
Win10–0 Joe Bugner UD101983-06-04Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win9–0 James Broad UD101983-04-10Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win8–0Mike CohenKO21983-03-07 Charleston, South Carolina
Win7–0Amos HaynesTKO5 (10), 2:231983-02-08Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win6–0Guy CasaleRTD4 (8), 3:001981-09-16Las Vegas, Nevada
Win5–0Tony PuluUD61981-08-22Las Vegas, Nevada
Win4–0Steve ZouskiKO6 (6), 2:131981-05-11New York, New York
Win3–0Melvin EppsUD61981-04-10New York, New York
Win2–0Dennis RiveraTKO2 (4), 2:301980-10-10New York, New York
Win1–0Roger TroupeTKO3 (4), 2:081980-09-12New York, New York

Related Research Articles

Lennox Lewis British-Canadian boxer

Lennox Claudius Lewis is a former professional boxer who competed from 1989 to 2003. He is a three-time world heavyweight champion, a two-time lineal champion, and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed championship. Holding dual British and Canadian citizenship, Lewis represented Canada as an amateur at the 1988 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division after defeating Riddick Bowe in the final.

Larry Holmes American boxer

Larry Holmes is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1973 to 2002. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, which led to his boxing nickname of the Easton Assassin.

George Foreman Former American professional boxer, ordained Baptist minister, author and entrepreneur

George Edward Foreman is an American former professional boxer, entrepreneur, minister and author. As a professional boxer, he was nicknamed "Big George" and competed between 1969 and 1997. He is a two-time world heavyweight champion and an Olympic gold medalist. As an entrepreneur, he is known for the George Foreman Grill.

Michael Spinks American boxer

Michael Spinks is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1977 to 1988. He held world championships in two weight classes, including the undisputed light heavyweight title from 1983 to 1985, and the lineal heavyweight title from 1985 to 1988. As an amateur he won a gold medal in the middleweight division at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Joe Frazier American boxer

Joseph William Frazier, nicknamed "Smokin' Joe," was an American professional boxer who competed from 1965 to 1981. Frazier was known for his strength, durability, formidable punching power, and relentless pressure fighting style and was the first boxer to beat Muhammad Ali. He reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1970 to 1973 and as an amateur won a gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics.

Ken Norton American boxer

Kenneth Howard Norton Sr. was an American professional boxer who competed from 1967 to 1981, and held the WBC heavyweight title in 1978. He is best known for his fights with Muhammad Ali, in which Norton won the first by split decision, lost the second by split decision, and lost the final by a controversial unanimous decision. Norton also fought a slugfest with Larry Holmes in 1978, narrowly losing a split decision. These are all seen as great fights, and generally controversial, with some people thinking that Norton won the fight.

Ron Lyle American boxer

Ronald David Lyle was an American professional boxer who competed from 1971 to 1980, and in 1995. He challenged unsuccessfully once for the undisputed world heavyweight title, losing to Muhammad Ali in 1975. Lyle was known for his punching power, crowd-pleasing fighting style, as well as courage and determination inside the ring. He held notable wins over Buster Mathis, Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis, Vicente Rondón, Earnie Shavers, Joe Bugner, and Scott LeDoux, but is best known for his slugfest against George Foreman in 1976, which won Fight of the Year honors by The Ring magazine.

James Tillis American boxer

James Tillis is a retired professional boxer and actor. Known as "Quick", he was known for his fast hand speed, quite astonishing for a man of his size and build. A natural southpaw, Tillis turned around to orthodox midway in his amateur career. His left remained the stronger hand and for that reason, he had a powerful jab and left hook, together with the ability to switch stances while fighting. Tillis challenged for the WBA world heavyweight title in 1981, but was defeated in a fifteen round unanimous decision fight against Mike Weaver. Tillis was the first man to go the distance with Mike Tyson in 1986, breaking his knockout-streak and giving him a relatively close fight, nearly a draw, with two of three judges scoring the fight 6-to-4. He holds notable wins over Ron Stander by TKO in the 7th round in 1980, and the hard punching Earnie Shavers by ten-round decision in 1982. Tillis fought for the last time in 2001 at the age of 44.

Jimmy Ellis (boxer) American boxer

James Albert Ellis was an American professional boxer. He won the vacant WBA heavyweight title in 1968 by defeating Jerry Quarry, making one successful title defense in the same year against Floyd Patterson, before losing to Joe Frazier in 1970.

Tim Witherspoon American boxer

Tim Witherspoon is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1979 to 2003. He was a two-time world heavyweight champion, having held the WBC title in 1984, and the WBA title in 1986. Witherspoon also worked as a regular sparring partner for Muhammad Ali.

James Smith (boxer) American boxer

James "Bonecrusher" Smith is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1999, and held the WBA heavyweight title from 1986 to 1987.

Randall Craig "Tex" Cobb is an American actor, martial artist, and former professional boxer who competed in the heavyweight division. Widely considered to possess one of the greatest chins of all time, Cobb was a brawler who also packed considerable punching power. He began his fighting career in full contact kickboxing in 1975 before making the jump to professional boxing two years later. He challenged Larry Holmes for the WBC heavyweight title in November 1982, losing a one-sided unanimous decision. Cobb took wins over notable heavyweights of his era such as Bernardo Mercado, Earnie Shavers, and Leon Spinks. He was ranked in the global top 10 heavyweight boxers by the Ring and BoxRec.

Tony Tubbs is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1980 to 2006, and held the WBA heavyweight title from 1985 to 1986.

Mitch Green is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1980 to 2005. He is best known for going the distance with Mike Tyson, who was undefeated in 1986, and for his later street brawl with Tyson in 1988. A toothpick dangling between his lips became his trademark at any public appearance.

Carl Williams, nicknamed "The Truth", was an American boxer who competed as a professional from 1982 to 1997. He challenged twice for heavyweight world titles; the IBF title against Larry Holmes in 1985; and the undisputed title against Mike Tyson in 1989. At regional level he held the USBA heavyweight title from 1987 to 1991.

James Broad was an American heavyweight boxer who was an amateur star and, prior to the boycott, set to represent America in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. As a pro he won the NABF heavyweight title and was a regular sparring partner of a peak Mike Tyson. He fought the likes of James Smith, Razor Ruddock, Tony Tucker, Tim Witherspoon, Johnny du Plooy, Francesco Damiani, and Greg Page.

Mike Tyson vs. Lou Savarese Boxing competition

Mike Tyson vs. Lou Savarese, billed as "Tyson's Back", was a professional boxing match contested on June 24, 2000.

Mike Tyson vs. Marvis Frazier Boxing competition

Mike Tyson vs. Marvis Frazier was a professional boxing match contested on July 26, 1986. The fight is notable for being the quickest knockout victory of Tyson's professional career, lasting only 30 seconds.

Boxing career of Muhammad Ali Boxing career of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is widely regarded by boxing commentators and historians as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time. BoxRec ranks Ali as the fourteenth greatest boxer, pound for pound, of all time. Boxing magazine The Ring named him number one in a 1998 ranking of greatest heavyweights from all eras. In 1999, The Associated Press voted Ali the number one heavyweight of the 20th century. In 1999, Ali was named the second greatest boxer in history, pound for pound, by ESPN; behind only welterweight and middleweight legend Sugar Ray Robinson. In December 2007, ESPN listed Ali second in its choice of the greatest heavyweights of all time, behind Joe Louis.

José Manuel Ribalta is a Cuban former professional boxer who competed in the heavyweight division from 1982 to 1999. He is best known for his fight against Mike Tyson in 1986.


  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. 1 2 Second generation by Phil Pepe, Daily News from New York, April 9, 1979, p. 278.
  5. 1 2 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. 1 2 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.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
Preceded by
Tony Tubbs
United States Amateur Heavyweight Champion
Succeeded by
Mark Mahone