Joe Frazier, Champion and Competitor

Joe Frazier
Bob Thomas / Getty Images

Dedication, and a Lucky Break
Frazier quickly established a name for himself as a boxer. He failed to qualify for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but was added to the American team after Mathis was forced to withdraw with an injury. Frazier won his final bout with a broken thumb to take home the gold medal — the only American boxer to do so that year. Stardom didn't come immediately after the Olympics, however; Frazier returned to the U.S. and took a job as a janitor at a Baptist church in North Philadelphia. Here, Frazier trains in London before the Olympics in June 1973.

Get the Latest Photos from
Get TIME photos and pictures of the week delivered directly to your inbox.