HAVERHILL — Family members and friends are remembering boxer Jeff Fraza as a "good man" who had a zest for life.
Fraza, 34, who appeared on the hit TV reality show "The Contender," was struck by a train and killed early yesterday morning.
Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said Fraza appeared to be talking on a cellphone when he was hit by the train on the tracks along Hale Street. The collision happened near Fraza's home at 7 Mulberry St just before 1:30 a.m.
"I'm still in shock. I can't believe it. He was a great kid," said Micky Ward of Lowell, whose life story was brought to the big screen in the movie, "The Fighter."
Ward trained Fraza, who was known as "Hell Raza."
"He was a great amateur and professional fighter," Ward said. "We grew up together pretty much. I'm going to miss everything about him. He had a big heart."
Fraza's grandfather Norman Fraza Sr., agreed.
"He was a fun kid to be with and loved life," Norman Fraza said. "He has left a big void in our lives."
Norman Fraza learned about the accident when Jeff's father, Norman Jr., called him at 6 a.m.
"My stomach turned when I heard the news. I was in a deep sleep, and I was trying to take it all in and trying to make heads and tails out of it. God I loved him," Norman Fraza said.
Fraza, who suffered from Crohn's Disease, had to put his boxing career on hold, but that did not stop him from teaching youngsters.
Fraza was training his 14-year-old son, Antonio, and his teenage cousins, Harrison and Douglas Gigliotti, at the Haverhill Boxing Club on High Street, continuing the family tradition that began with Norman Sr., who was a boxer in the 1940s. Fraza's father and brother, Derek, followed.