Smokin' Joe captures Olympic title

Updated: November 7, 2011, 11:54 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to

Oct. 23, 1964

Joe Frazier got into the Olympics on a busted knuckle. The knuckle belonged to 293-pound Buster Mathis, America's No. 1 Olympic heavyweight, and Frazier was a last-minute substitute.

The 6-foot, 195-pound butcher's apprentice from Philadelphia tore into his first three opponents and demolished them. The only American fighter to reach the finals, he has a tougher time tonight against 30-year-old German bus driver Hans Huber in the Korakuen Ice Palace in Tokyo.

Fighting with a broken right hand, Frazier depends on jabs and left hooks to score points against Huber, a former wrestler who spends much of the three-round bout retreating. Huber's "to-the-rear, march" plan gets him the votes of two judges. However, the other three judges give the decision -- and the Olympic championship -- to the fighter who will become known as Smokin' Joe.