By John Cirillo
Considering his talents and achievements as a hoops coach, to say that Fairfield University women’s head basketball coach Joe Frager knows as much about boxing as he does about basketball is a strong statement, indeed.
The avid boxing fan can give you detailed history of the sweet science – from Willie Pep to Joe Louis to Sean O’Grady – not to mention present-day champions like GGG, and top contenders in virtually every division currently. Frager is a knockout in the women’s college ranks, sort of the “Smokin’ Joe” of his division.
In his ninth season at the helm of the Stags, Frager has Fairfield’s opponents on the ropes! He is the only coach in the 35-year history of the MAAC to register eight consecutive winning season to begin a career. Averaging 19.5 wins a campaign under Frager’s tutelage, Fairfield has vaulted to National post-season play in four of those seasons. His career 249-119 record and 67.7 % win percentage is championship-caliber.
And Frager’s Stags have won two straight, downing Rider and Manhattan in back to back games on Thursday and Saturday to put them right into the thick of the MAAC conference frey as the season gets into full throttle.
Here’s how Smokin’ Joe answered 10 Questions on the Sweet Science:
- Q: How and when did you become a boxing fan?A: “My Dad, Joe Frager, always talked about the great fighters of the 40’s and 50’s. He spoke of Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, Robinson, Basilio, Joe Louis, LaMotta, Al Gainer, among others. I became hooked with the TV fights of the 70’s and 80’s, especially the junior lightweight and lightweight brawls.”
- Q: Did you ever put on the gloves in a gym or elsewhere?A: “I had the gloves on, mainly to hit a heavy bag and bag gloves for the speed bag. As a pitcher in high school and college, potentially damaging a hand was not a smart option.”
- Q: Do you ever use boxing techniques in motivating or training your players?
A: “We actually use the terminology of a ‘boxer’s stance’ defensively. I use boxing references and analogies quite a bit.”
- Q: Favorite all time boxer, why? “My all-time favorite boxer would be Sean O’Grady. ‘The Green Machine,’ ‘The Bubblegum Bomber.’ former WBA Lightweight Champ. Was involved in some great fights with Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Gonzallo Montellano, Jim Watt, Shig Fukuyama and Hilmer Kenty. Great boxing commentator also.”
- Q: Best all time boxer, why?A: “Best of all time – “Sugar Ray” Robinson. He could box, he could punch, took a great shot, could do it all. He fought the best for a very long time.”
- Q: Favorite current boxer, why?
A: “My favorite current boxer is “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin. He’s all business in the ring. Great puncher, vastly under-appreciated boxing skills. Fan of Canelo Alvarez and Demetrius Andrade too.”
- Q: The best active boxer?
A: Gennady Golovkin or Chocolatito Gonzalez
8. Q: What fight would you most like to see in 2016?
A: Golovkin v. Canelo or Kell Brook v. Amir Khan
- Q: If you could have dinner with one boxer in history, who would it be any why? A: “I’d pick the late Jerry Quarry to have dinner with. One of the best to never win the championship. He fought all the great heavyweights of the 60’s and 70’s- Patterson, Ali, Frazier, Norton, Shavers, Lyle, Ellis, Mac Foster and others. Archie Moore would be great to have dinner with too. The “Ol Mongoose” was forced to wait a long time for a shot at the title.”
- Q: What would be the ultimate fight for a fantasy championship?
A: “The ultimate fantasy fight- the welterweight version of “Sugar Ray” Robinson v. Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather wins the first 3-4 rounds, but Robinson wears him down for a 10th round TKO!”