The life and legacy of the great Eddie Futch — a true legend of the ring

John Wight
5 min readMay 27
Eddie Futch

“Sit down, son. It’s all over. No one will forget what you did here today.”

The aforementioned words, spoken by trainer Eddie Futch to Joe Frazier at the end of the fourteenth round of arguably the most punishing heavyweight fight ever fought, when he faced Muhammad Ali in Manila on 1 October 1975, have justifiably gone down in boxing folklore as the best and most humane example of a trainer saving a fighter from himself.

The sheer courage displayed by Futch in pulling his fighter out of the fight at such at late stage was only matched by the courage displayed by Frazier in the final bout of the trilogy he fought against Ali — his nemesis without whom he himself would never have reached the heights he did in the sport. Indeed, as Ali said of their rivalry after finally retiring from the ring: “I’m sorry Joe Frazier is mad at me. I’m sorry I hurt him. Joe Frazier is a good man. I couldn’t have done what I did without him, and couldn’t have done what he did without me.”

Ali was here referring to the merciless insults he levelled at Frazier in the lead up to the fight, repeatedly calling him an Uncle Tom, ignorant — even going so far as to produce a toy gorilla at the pre-fight press conference, punching it while call it Joe.

Returning to Eddie Futch, we are reminded of the critical role that a trainer plays in any fighter’s success in the ring and also on many occasions failure too. Frazier never forgave Futch for pulling him out of the Thrilla in Manila, but even so Futch, looking back on his long career, declared that “Joe Frazier was the easiest boxer to work with that I ever trained.”

Considering that Futch also trained such greats of the squared circle as Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Trevor Berbick, Riddick Bowe, Montell Griffin, Marlon Starling, along with numerous others, this is high praise indeed. Futch it was who is credited with developing Frazier’s bobbing and weaving style, utilising his relatively small stature as a heavyweight to…

John Wight

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