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Former Heavyweight Champ Acquitted

September 25, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Joe Frazier can still win a fight.

The former heavyweight champion was acquitted of drunken driving charges by a judge Thursday. Cheers filled the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and afterwards, Frazier was greeted by fans who acted as if he had just won a title fight, with some yelling, ``Way to go, Joe!″

Frazier was arrested and charged last April as he returned from an appearance at a New Jersey police benefit function. Prosecutors said he was pulled over after his car swerved car across the center of a four-lane avenue and ran a red light. Police said he fell over as he took balance tests at the scene.

A breath exam showed Frazier with a blood alcohol level of 0.098, just below the legal limit of 0.10.

Defense attorneys, including Frazier’s daughter Jacqulyn Frazier-Lyde, contended that the 54-year old’s behavior stemmed from his weariness from a long drive and medications he was taking.

``I would never break the law if I believed I could hurt someone,″ said Frazier, who said he would have left Philadelphia had he been convicted.

Frazier, a 1964 Olympic gold medalist, won the heavyweight title in 1971 by defeating Muhammad Ali. It was the first of three fights with Ali, with Frazier losing the next two.

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