Monday, September 14, 2009
Goalie Emery salutes Frazier on helmet
VOORHEES, N.J.-- Joe Frazier would have been a perfect fit on those old Philadelphia Flyers Broad Street Bullies teams in the 1970s.
Tough, intimidating. Never afraid to back down from a fight.
Smokin' Joe might not agree.
"Boxing ain't nothing close to hockey," Frazier said. "Hockey's tougher."
Frazier took a rinkside seat on Monday when he visited Flyers training camp to visit with goalie Ray Emery. Emery, a noted fighter from his years in Ottawa, paid tribute to the boxing great by having the images of Philly greats Frazier, Bernard Hopkins and fictional Rocky Balboa painted on his mask.
"You throw punches?" the 65-year-old Frazier asked Emery.
Emery smiled before Frazier threw a playful jab at his chin. Then the Philadelphia boxing icon, who developed a contentious relationship with Muhammad Ali, offered Emery a chance at a few fighting tips in a private session.
"C'mon by and I'll show you some more technique," Frazier said. "Hit him here [chin] and slow 'em down. Boom, boom, boom!"
Frazier walks slowly and with the aid of a cane, and needed Emery's help to pull on his "Frazier" Flyers jersey.
Emery, starting his first year in Philadelphia after a year in Russia, was clearly touched to meet Frazier. Frazier signed a copy of "The Thrilla in Manilla" DVD for him.
Frazier spent about 30 minutes in the Flyers locker room, lamenting the decline in popularity of boxing and wondering how the biggest fighting organization these days became UFC. He said he felt sorry for Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, but the two haven't spoken since the 2002 NBA All-Star game in Philadelphia.
"If there was something I could do to make him walk or talk, I'll do that," Frazier said.
Frazier has his own physical ailments, including diabetes, and takes about 12 pills daily.
"I stay away from all that mean stuff. Alcohol, beer," he said. "I'm not the wildman I used to be."
Frazier smiled when he heard that Emery, nicknamed "Razor," has been involved in his share of on-ice scraps. The temperamental Emery most notably traded with blows with former Buffalo goalie Martin Biron and assaulted the team trainer in Russia last season.
"He's tougher than me. The job is tougher," Frazier said. "One guy, two guys, three guys, hit you one time. My game there's only one guy, one-on-one. If I don't like the guy, I can get real mean and take him out, or he'll take me out. But you've got more five more guys to hit you. Oh no! It's too rough for me."
Frazier offered one more tip to Emery as he left.
"Stay out of trouble," Frazier said. "Don't hurt nobody."