Despite being the heavyweight champion of the world and an Olympian, Joe Frazier was often quiet, and even seemed downright mute when compared to his most infamous rival, Muhammad Ali. While Ali welcomed camera crews and the spotlight, Frazier was more about letting his gloves do the talking. It wasn’t until his boxing days were over that Frazier became a bit more interested in talking about his life. Here are some fascinating tidbits you probably didn't know about Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Frazier believed that he inspired a famous scene in Rocky: "I was the drain man. My job was to make sure the blood went down the drain. But sometimes, early in the morning, I'd go down that long rail of meat and work on my punching," he told The Guardian about his time working in a Philadelphia slaughterhouse. "That's how [Sylvester] Stallone got the same idea for Rocky—just like he used the story about me training by running up the steps of the museum in Philly. But he never paid me for none of my past. I only got paid for a walk-on part. Rocky is a sad story for me." Frank Sinatra played photographer for Frazier: On March 8, 1971 Frazier fought Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title of the world. LIFE magazine commissioned singer Frank Sinatra, who moonlighted as an amateur photographer, to shoot the event. Frazier asked President Richard Nixon to give Ali his license back so he could beat him: "I went to see President Nixon at the White House. It wasn't difficult to get a meeting because I was heavyweight champion of the world," he said to The Guardian. "So I came to Washington and walked around the garden with Nixon, his wife and daughter. I said: 'I want you to give Ali his license back. I want to beat him up for you.' Nixon said, 'Sure, I'd like that.' He knew what he was doing and so Ali got his license back." Frazier was a singer: He performed from time to time with his band Joe Frazier and the Knockouts.