Joe Frazier neither floated like a butterfly nor stung like a bee; just beat the crap out of people---including Muhammad Ali. He was an ole-school thunderer and the heavyweight champ, and Mark Kram, Jr. much, much more than splendidly gets to the strange anomaly that was Smokin’ Joe: you’d have thought the guy didn’t get no respect. Only he did. Lots. He had a chin of molybdenum, a soft but steely heart, but was still somehow so easily bruised. His life is a story worth reading.


bestselling author of Ali: A Life

Like Smokin’ Joe’s left hook, this book is a revelation, a powerhouse, a thing of beauty, and--OK, I’ll say it—a knockout. Joe Frazier is one of the most compelling figures to ever step in a boxing ring, and Mark Kram, Jr. has written a biography worthy in every way of the champ’s greatness.


Without great opponents, there are no great champions.’ This boxing adage is never more accurate than in the case of Joe Frazier, Ali’s truly great-hearted and courageous rival for the heavyweight title and one of the most distinctive and beloved American boxers of the twentieth century. Mark Kram, Jr’s sympathetic and thoroughly researched Smokin’ Joe is a worthy introduction to an under-appreciated American athlete.


winner of the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing

No matter how much greatness he rained down on Muhammad Ali in their three epic fights, Joe Frazier was repaid in mockery and unjust taunts that he was an Uncle Tom. Now, Mark Kram, Jr., the premier empath in American sports writing, steps forth with an exquisite biography that depicts Frazier as he really was: not just fearless and ferocious but soulful, compassionate, loyal, impulsive, capable of powerful hatred and even more powerful love. You can feel the gospel truth of Smokin’ Joe deep in your bones.


author of the Casey Award-winning The Last Innocents

Mark Kram, Jr.’s landmark book about Joe Frazier—the most cursed foil in sports history as Muhammad Ali’s chief and bitter rival—at last remedies a grave wrong, lifting the indomitable Frazier out of the crypt of creeping obscurity and into the exalted place he deserves in America’s annals. Through Kram’s sublime exploration, we discover that no athlete had a greater claim to understanding the cauldron of his era’s brutality, or deserves a more lasting place in our memories alongside his immortal adversary.

History will remember the rivalry of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali as one for the ages, a trilogy of extraordinary fights that transcended the world of sports and crossed into a sociocultural drama that divided the country. In Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier, Mark Kram, Jr. unlinks Frazier from Ali and for the first time gives a full-bodied account of his life, which began in poverty amid the bigotry and oppression of the Jim Crow South and ascended to wealth and celebrity as one of the greatest heavyweights in history. A gripping, all-access biography that is also powerful story about race and class in America, Smokin’ Joe is unparalleled in its scope and depth and stands as the definitive portrayal of a towering America figure.