The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on April 27, 1979 · 77
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 77

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Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Friday, April 27, 1979
Page:
77
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ff : Hi ; Y ' I f- ? A f I Marvis Frazier, Olympic hopeful, and proud father, Joe, Olympic gold medal winner Frazier Continued from Page 12 time Olympic gold medalist, Teofilo Stevenson, tormentor of American amateur heavyweights for a decade. Then, on to what he calls "my ultimate goal," a gold medal in the Moscow Olympics, making the Fraziers the first father-son gold-medal winners in history. Frazier is undefeated in 30 fights, with 17 knockouts. He has a rapier left jab and punches hard and accurately with either hand, but his strong suit is defense. Unlike his father, whose inferior reach made boring in relentlessly a necessity. Marvis is equally adept at staying outside and piling up points or fighting in close against bigger foes. "It's hard to describe my style," he said. "I'd like to be a combination of my pop and Ali." Trainer Benton is more explicit. "I'm gonna make a big, big statement," he says, drawing a breath. "If he has the desire to turn pro, he's gonna be the greatest heavyweight since Joe Louis. Do I believe it? I don't believe it, I know it." So, it seems, might poppa, although he won't say so for the record. But when he does speak of his son's prowess, it's with the certainty of a jeweler appraising his finest diamond. . "I don't see anybody taking advantage of Marvis, Frazier said. "I don't see him having to work his way in the way his dad did. He's got the height, the heart, the reach, the ability and WOW. "Nobody's gonna beat that kid." Everyone who knows him says Marvis Frazier is a model kid. He grew up "like he was poor," Benton says. There were no favors. When the grass on the Fraziers' 214-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. "We don't live special," Joe Frazier said. "We live like a normal family. We all do our job." And that means meeting obligations. Frazier has seen less than one-third of his son's fights, and he didn't see any of the Indianapolis bouts. He spent the week performing in the half -full lounge of, Pittsburgh Holiday Inn with his revamped 18-member song-and-dance troupe, the Smokin' Joe Frazier Review. Eddie Harrell, longtime family friend, went along and served as Marvis' surrogate father. Marvis' decision to box was purely his own. He is imbued with a single-minded-ness of purpose and joy for his craft not seen among those who have been cajoled or leaned on. In junior high school he showed signs of becoming an outstanding athlete. He excelled at wrestling, basketball, football and baseball. But when he entered Plym-outh-Whitemarsh High, his grades were poor because of his devotion to sports. Joe, intent on having Marvis be the first Frazier ever to go to college, yanked him out and put him in a private school that didn't have a sports program. With no athletic outlet, Marvis got better grades and got restless. Reluctantly, his father OK'd his request to work out at the gym but no boxing. Some six months later he got permission again, reluctantly to spar with his cousin, Russell, who was short and stocky and already had had "about 10" amateur fights. Almost from the outset, Marvis was getting the best of him and liking it. He asked Benton to work with him. Benton had other fighters to worry about, and he didn't want to be fooling with the boss' son on a lark. "I thought it was a fad," Benton said. It was anything but. But first father and son had a long talk. "He told me this was no plaything," Marvis recalled. "He told me there were no shortcuts. And no half-stepping. If I did it just because my father did it, I'd never have been able to come as far as I have. I wouldn't have it in the heart. And when they start swinging, you'd better not be in there just imitating a great fighter." Frazier also advised Marvis, "Don't get hit with nothin'." Like most advice, it is easier preached than practiced. But so far the only marks on Marvis are a thumbtack-size scar on his right cheek from a run-in with a table edge, and a knot on his forehead from bumping into a slow-moving pickup truck while chasing a ball into the street as a kid. And because boxing is truly what he wants, his psyche is also unencumbered. Joe had just finished an hour-long workout. Peeling off a sweat-soaked T-shirt that says "Bourbon Street New Orleans," he changed into a green terry-cloth robe with his name inscribed on the back and settled into his black swivel chair. The room features a gold couch, stereo system, piles of records, uncommissioned portraits of him in and out of the ring, and, most important, pictures of the family. On the end tables. On the coffee table. On the desk. Recently, the Fraziers took in Marcus, a 2-year-old foster child. Frazier is hoping he can eventually adopt him. After all, he has been sharing whatever he had since he picked cotton alongside his father in the steamin' South Carolina fields. He sees no reason to stop now. He stared long and hard at the picture of Marvis, who bears some resemblance but is hardly a dead ringer. "The only reason I let the wife stay in the house is because he looks like me," Frazier said, "because I ain't that size. "I read more about him than I ever read about myself. When you're talking about the kid, you're talking about me. The chip didn't fall far from the stump. Marvis is a better fighter than I was at 18. I'm just living my life all over again and he's doing a better job. "If he wants to fight, let him fight If he wants to quit, let him quit, damn it. It doesn't matter. Whether he's good, bad or ugly, he's still my son." Frazier was late for a lunch date and left the room to change clothes. When a reporter asked to speak to Frazier's wife, Frazier dialed the number and put a seven-minute time limit on the call. Florence Frazier never wanted this. "Seeing your husband get hurt is one thing," she said. "Seeing your baby get hurt is another. But he is exactly like his father. You can tell them things and it is like you are saying nothing. I have learned I can't talk the men in my house out of anything."; w Especially Marvis, as he moves toward the threshold of a dream. Winning the Golden Gloves, he says "puts me in the (driver's) seat" for the Pan-American Games. Then come the Olympics and the awarding of the gold medal. " ., . , On his way to the Golden Gloves title he decisioned former Olympian Jimmy Clark, ranked No. 2 internationally among amateur heavyweights. He says he has no fear of Stevenson. He says he will study business at Pierce Junior College in Philadelphia after Moscow. But trainer Benton sees greater vistas. "He' s on the road to being a defensive genius," Benton said. "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 ..." Even Marvis Frazier, modest Marvis Frazier, of the Beaufort, S.C. and the Philadelphia Fraziers, is impressed with himself. "I don't see any weaknesses," he says, looking right at his listener. "I guess that's why I'm a champion."0 .... '-.ft- . 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