British Featherweight Marianne Marston is to dedicate her upcoming fight, against Latvia’s Aleksandra Jasjukevica at York Hall, Bethnal Green in London on Saturday 27th April 2013, to the memory of her recently departed mentor, Legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Following an accidental meeting with Smokin’ Joe at a coffee shop in Philadelphia, Marston was invited to try out at his North Philadelphia gym.
The trial was clearly a success as Smoke immediately invited her to join his female boxing team, which also included Heavyweight Dee Moses and Welterweight Faatimah Balmer.
After a series of extended trips to Philly, from her home in London, to be coached by the legend himself and his son Marvis, Marston relocated to the City of Brotherly Love, in order to thoroughly prepare for her planned professional debut.
Unfortunately within a few months of her moving to Philadelphia, Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s Gym unexpectedly closed.
Even though Marston had moved her training base across town, to The James Shuler Memorial Gym in West Philadelphia and later following her return to London, she and the Smoke regularly kept in touch, as Frazier had always been particularly keen on news of how his ‘Golden Girl’ was progressing, as well as taking any opportunity of reminding her that he wanted to be ringside at her first fight.
Following a training session at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in London, Marston reminisced about her time with the legend that is Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
“Joe was my childhood hero, he always was one of the biggest influences in my wanting to box in the first place.
Even though I was regularly in Philly on business, I never expected to meet Joe, at the time I didn’t even realize he still had a gym there.
To meet him was something else, I suppose because it was a totally accidental meeting it makes it even more special.
To actually be coached by him was a dream come true.
At times it was quite surreal, like the time I was at the gym and about to wrap my hands, Joe came over took the wraps from me and began wrapping my hands. I mean he’s my all time hero and yet here he was wrapping my hands.
To this day I still wrap my hands the way he showed me, I wouldn’t change the way I do them for the World.
Even after the gym closed we kept in touch, Joe always said to me don’t forget to let him know when I will be fighting, as he wanted to be there.
When Joe died I was not just deeply saddened but also felt a lot of anger, not at Joe, but at the ‘powers that be’ that had prevented me fighting professionally until recently.
Joe wanted to be at my debut, yet those morons and their prejudice against Women’s boxing stalled my career, it’s so disappointing that now I’m actually able to fight professionally Joe can’t be there in the flesh… but I know he’ll be there in spirit.
Joe supported Women’s boxing, not just because his daughter Jacqui boxed, but because he believed Boxing to be a sport for everyone. We were all treated the same in the gym, we were all boxers, not male or female.
Joe was so special and I owe him so much, not just because he trained me. Joe taught me so much and gave me so much belief in my ability, if it wasn’t for him I probably would have given up on my dream a long time ago.
Even after my return to London Joe’s support and kind words were a major factor in my determination to ‘fight the system’ and achieve my dream.
On the 27th April, I WILL win and WILL do it in style as I am fighting for the memory of one of the greatest people, as well as greatest boxers, I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, Smokin’ Joe Frazier.”
Marianne Marston versus Aleksandra Jasjukevica features on the undercard of Dean ‘Irish Lightning’ Byrne - Jay ‘IOW Assassin’ Morris International Masters Welterweight Championship clash which headlines Dave Murphy’s Thunderdrome Promotions ‘Thunder & Lightning’ event at York Hall, Bethnal Green in London on the 27th April 2013.
Tickets, priced £65 (Ringside), £35 (Floor) and £30 (Balcony) are available on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com and www.mariannemarston.com or in person at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, London E16 4SA - www.tkoboxinggym.com - or the Ringtone Gym in Euston, London NW1 2PB - www.ringtonehealthandfitness.com - Tel: 07960 850645 or 07557 641597 for further information.