History | Issue | Premium | Dec 16 2019

Joe Frazier and the forgotten memories of boxing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, once a proud fight town full of life, has changed dramatically this century. There are some clues to what came before but not nearly enough, writes a sombre Tris Dixon
Joe Frazier
Presse Sports/USA Today Sports

IF I close my eyes and drift back in time, I see things in black and white and I can hear certain sounds.

I can hear the rusting chains of heavybags swinging, the collision of leather on leather as gloves meet bags, I hear trainers barking instructions with violent intent – aggressive commands to do harm, to go to war – and I can see every detail, including beads of sweat tumbling off a fighters’ brow as he sits on a wooden bench and stares at the floor in front of him, unwrapping his throbbing hands.

You step outside, it’s still all black and white, and you can hear the rat-a-tat-tat of leather shoes on the sidewalk, a few diesel hungry cars shoot by and men wearing suits, hats and long overcoats, some holding furled up newspapers under their arms with the day’s betting odds marked in ink, look for money, recognition and opportunity. Some smoke cigarettes, a few puff on cigars.


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