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Joe Frazier Was “Smokin'” In South Utica

As you probably know by now, “Smokin'” Joe Frazier died Monday night at age 67, and the boxing world has lost a great heavyweight. What you may not know is that a friend of mine and her family met Joe Frazier years ago in their place of business in South Utica.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Here’s the story. The Rasi family operated Rasi’s Grocery Store on Richardson Ave. in South Utica. During the 1970s,  a neighbor of theirs had a daughter who worked for boxing promoter Don King. So, one day, “Smokin'” Joe Frazier, who had retired from the ring, visited their neighbor down the street, and then their neighbor led him into Rasi’s Grocery Store.

The Rasi’s were totally surprised to see Joe Frazier walk into their little neighborhood grocery store wearing a big fur coat and a big smile. My friend told me that Frazier had huge hands and was a very nice guy; talking with the family members and being just a pleasant unexpected guest. After a few minutes, he left but also left a positive impression and lasting memories.

I guess you never know who might walk through your door someday.

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