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BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) — Long before he became Smokin’ Joe, the future heavyweight champion was known in his South Carolina hometown as “Billy Boy” — a stocky farmer’s son who honed his devastating left hook on a punching bag made from a flour sack stuffed with corn cobs and rags.
Joe Frazier would make Philadelphia his adopted home, but his roots ran deep in South Carolina where he was born in 1944. More than 250 people gathered Wednesday for a memorial service near his hometown of Beaufort.
“He was Joe Frazier to the world, but he was our Uncle Billy,” said Dannette Frazier, one of about a dozen of Frazier’s nieces and nephews who still live near the 10-acre farm where the boxer was raised.
Frazier died Nov. 7 from cancer at age 67.
The South Carolina service had none of the celebrity trappings of Frazier’s funeral Monday in Philadelphia, where Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy to a congregation including Muhammad Ali, former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes and promoter Don King.
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