Smokin’ Joe Frazier is a boxing legend. The ongoing rivalry between Frazier and Muhammad Ali, some suggest, is the biggest of all in boxing history. It was the early ’70s when the two champions battled it out over the course of three fights. Frazier had loves beyond the gloves, the ring, and landing a mean left hook. He was also a car enthusiast and aficionado.
He learned to drive at 12-years-old, in a 1944 Ford. The first car he bought on his own was a 1966 Chevy Chevelle SS. But the badge he seemed obsessed with the most, was that of Cadillac.
An under-the-hood upbringing
Joe Frazier got comfortable behind the wheel as a child and learned how to drive on the dusty back roads. His father would buy non-working cars and turn Frazier loose on a mission to get them running.
Frazier said in an interview that his dad used to scrap iron to sell to the mill. So, it wasn’t unusual to have three or four cars in the backyard that didn’t run. It was this early exposure to cars, driving, and mechanics that developed Frazier’s passion for Fords and Chevys. It would lead him to love the Cadillac as well.
World Heavyweight Champion and Cadillac both mean success
In the boxing ring, Joe Frazier enjoyed a successful career. He won the Olympic gold medal in 1964, before going professional the next year. His iconic rivalry with Muhammad Ali, and subsequent victory, helped him earn the World Heavyweight Champion title.
A man with this kind of success should drive a car that epitomizes the same level of achievement. At least, according to Frazier, there was only one car brand that did that — Cadillac. To him, Cadillac was more than a badge; it was a symbol of ultimate success.
He was always known in the boxing world as “Smokin’ Joe,” but many suggest he should have been called “Cadillac Joe,” based on his long history of owning these cars. It’s as if he felt that should a car win a sporting event title, it would be the World Heavyweight Champion. And, if the World Heavyweight Champion were to drive a car, it would be a Cadillac.
The Cadillac models in Joe Frazier’s collection
He bought his first Cadillac in 1968, a front-wheel-drive Eldorado. Two years later, he purchased a Coupe Deville and drove no other brand ever since.
Some of the other models that Joe Frazier owned over the years included a 1989 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, a 1991 Cadillac Deville, and a 2007 Cadillac Escalade. At one point, he owned so many that he had some housed in other states because he didn’t have enough room to put them all under one garage roof.
A Cadillac man through his final years
Looking back over the years at Joe Frazier’s noteworthy achievements, the list is long and goes well beyond the famous Ali fight and victory. He was also known for his appreciation for General Motors and shared his support of the automaker since he was a little boy. And more specifically, he loved his Cadillacs.
Even in his last years, he often reminisced about his favorite models from the ’70s. There were some of the “biggest engines they [Cadillac] made,” he said in an interview.
He once spoke and laughed about his favorite road trip being a cruise along I-95. He said, “all the roads are big and wide.” Joe Frazier has since passed away on November 7, 2011, after a battle with liver cancer, in Philadelphia, PA.
He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy, not only in the boxing ring but also with his love and appreciation for Cadillacs. It’s a car badge that, to him, symbolized success and achievement, both of which many fans recognize as accomplishments for the heavyweight champion himself.