PHILADELPHIA (AP) — They braved the November cold and the whipping winds to line up outside the Wells Fargo Center Friday morning in tribute to a legend. Old men in cowboy hats and canes, young men, fathers with children, and businessmen in suits standing alongside construction workers in mud-caked boots taking some time from their jobs to pay their respects.
Mourners began arriving around 9 a.m. for the public memorial viewing of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. The two-day affair, put together by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in cooperation with Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, is expected to draw 15,000 fans.
Frazier was laid out in the middle of the arena in a white, closed casket, as per his will, with his trademark black cowboy sitting atop and a white blanket that said, “Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin’ Joe Frazier — Your friend, Jake.” To the left of the casket was an original fight poster of Frazier’s first epic fight against Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971, and an encased American flag. To the right was an autographed portrait of Frazier.