Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is best known for his three bouts in the ring with Muhammad Ali, but his next scrap might be in a courtroom, against an unlikely opponent - his daughter, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde.
Smokin' Joe has sued Frazier-Lyde - an attorney and former female boxing titlist who is running for a Municipal Court judgeship as a Democrat in the May 15 primary election - to regain custody of his contracts, product endorsements and other business papers.
"I wouldn't want to harass her, my daughter,'' Frazier, 63, told the Associated Press yesterday by phone from Toronto, where he was appearing at a festival. "I brought her here in this world and gave her the best of everything.''
But, Frazier added, "I don't talk to her. All I'm asking is for the papers, that's all.''
Frazier-Lyde, 45, who served as her father's lawyer and business adviser from 1989 to 2004, told the Daily News she is "very surprised'' by the lawsuit, which she described as "baseless and frivolous.''
"I have represented my father very well, and now I intend to represent the public [as a judge],'' she added. "I love my father dearly, but I disagree with how he's going about this. I intend to defend myself vigorously, if it comes to that.''
The suit, filed April 4 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court by Frazier attorneys Peter J. Boyer, Joshua Roberts and Mackenzie Windfelder, states that Frazier-Lyde "has possession of [the] records'' and refused to accept a certified letter dated March 2, 2006, in which her father demanded the return of the materials in question.
Frazier-Lyde, however, said, "I do not have any of my father's files. I want to make that clear. All his papers are in his gym [at 2917 N. Broad St.]. I do not have access to them.''
Peter Lyde, Frazier-Lyde's husband, questioned the timing of the lawsuit and suggested his father-in-law was being manipulated as part of a "politically motivated situation.''
"I don't know what's going on, but it ain't good,'' Lyde said. "There's some new people in Joe's life that have his ear and are turning him against his own family. They're trying to knock Jacqui out [of the judgeship election].''
Frazier-Lyde, however, refused to speculate as to who, if anyone, had exerted any influence over her father to seek legal redress.
"I deal in facts,'' she said. "I don't have any information as to where any of this is coming from.''
Frazier-Lyde noted that she has worked for her father, without compensation, "for over 15 years'' and that that fact demonstrates "how much I genuinely love him.''
"I've sacrificed my own career and my family's financial security to help my father,'' she said. "I even became a professional boxer to help uplift him. When no one else wanted to deal with his legal matters, I was there.''
Among those legal matters was Frazier-Lyde's handling of a lawsuit brought by her father that maintained he had been swindled out of 140 acres of prime real estate in Bucks County. Frazier purchased the then-rural acres in 1973 for $834,000 and sold it for $1.8 million. The lawsuit claimed the payment of $1.8 million never was made.
In November 2003, Bucks County Judge Robert Mellon threw out the case, agreeing with defense arguments that the 2-year statute of limitations had expired and that Frazier had failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish any claim to the property. At that time, the property was the site of 476 homes and was worth $84 million.
Peter Lyde said he and his wife, the mother of three of Frazier's grandchildren, were not previously aware of any tension in the relationship.