Joe's life of hard knocks

Athol McQueen of Kyogle, who knocked down Joe Frazier at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. McQueen rates Frazier among the top 10 boxers of all time.
Athol McQueen of Kyogle, who knocked down Joe Frazier at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. McQueen rates Frazier among the top 10 boxers of all time. Cathy Adams

JUST 34 seconds stopped Athol McQueen from going the distance against Joe Frazier, one of the best boxers the Kyogle man has seen.

It was the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and, earlier in the fight, McQueen etched his name in boxing history when he knocked down Frazier.

Frazier, who had a lethal left hook, exacted his revenge a little later, sitting a stunned McQueen on the canvas.

Frazier went on to win the gold medal before becoming a household name, including his knocking down of Muhammad Ali in the heavyweight "Fight of the Century" in 1971.

The two arch rivals also fought in the memorable "Thrilla in Manila" in the Philippines in 1975, with Ali winning a 14-round epic.

McQueen said just 34 seconds stood between him going the full three rounds against Frazier, who died this week at 67 due to liver cancer.

"I was on my haunches waiting for an eight-count but then the Hungarian referee stopped the fight," he said of the '64 Olympics quarter-final.

"I rate Joe as one of the top 10 fighters ever and he often told American journalists that I hit him harder than anyone.

"Joe came out here last year to Brisbane and the Gold Coast for Joe Bugner's birthday and we caught up.

(Bugner, an English heavyweight who later moved to Australia, also lost to Frazier.)

"He (Frazier) had a hard life and a hard upbringing but he was a good person."

McQueen was shattered when he heard about the passing of 'Smokin' Joe.

"He only got diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and it all happened so quickly," McQueen said.

"When he came out I got an invite to go back to see him but unfortunately I didn't get that chance. I'm trying to org-anise to go to his funeral."

McQueen rates the Thrilla in Manila as the best fight he has seen.

"You'll never again see anything as hard," he said.

"They were both close to exhaustion and equally as good as each other.

"Joe had a big left hook but he could take a hit as well as he could give one.

"Ali won Olympic gold in 1960, Frazier in 1964 and Foreman in 1968 - and you won't see another three boxers as good as those guys."

Topics:  boxing

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