"The mayor suggested we reach out to him and he gave us permission to show the film at a fundraiser at Conversation Hall. We don't have the exact date, but it will be sometime after Thanksgiving.
"We will feed them, and after a terrific buffet dinner, we will show the fight and raise the money needed to build the statue."
Frazier died of liver cancer Nov. 7, 2011. Talk soon followed about honoring Frazier with a statue. The Cordish developers offered a location, near Xfinity Live!, the entertainment complex built on the site of the demolished Spectrum.
It made sense, because the first sports event at the Spectrum was a Frazier fight, against Tony Doyle. Joe Hand, an original member of the Cloverlay syndicate that backed Frazier, offered to lead the campaign to get the statue built.
Hand politely backed away when some of Frazier's children stepped forward to organize the project, with a goal of raising $150,000. At a sidewalk news conference alongside City Hall, Xfinity Live! presented a check for $25,000. Joe Hand Promotions matched that soon after.
A website was established, Frazierstatue.com, that encouraged contributions. A modest sum was raised that way. The drive seemed stalled.
"We're in great shape now," Handley gushed. "The fundraiser will put us over the top and the statue will be in place before the end of 2013. We heard from more than 20 different sculptors. We narrowed that group down to eight, with one sculptor in Atlanta and another in Denver. The others are local.
"We specified larger-than-life. Bronze. The artists have to submit images by Nov. 30. And then a committee composed of members of the Frazier family, Philadelphia's Arts Commission, and a conservator who can monitor what it will take to protect and maintain it.
"The committee will choose the sculptor, agree on the pose with guidance from the Arts Commission. The timetable calls for the statue to be complete and in place by the end of December 2013."
Although it will be located in the vicinity of Xfinity Live!, the exact space is still uncertain.
"The artists have asked for more details," Handley said, "because they want to know what will be in the background."
The men who worked Frazier's corner in that historic match, Yank Durham and Eddie Futch, both are gone. So, too, is Angelo Dundee, who trained Ali. Referee Arthur Mercante is gone.
The list goes on. Frank Sinatra had a ringside photographer's pass and his photos appeared in Life magazine. Actor Burt Lancaster did the color commentary alongside announcer Don Dunphy. All gone.
Butch Lewis, the colorful fight promoter, who summed up the lure of two undefeated heavyweights colliding with the memorable line, "Somebody's 0 has got to go," gone.
"We want to include a fighter in the program," Handley said. "Someone who can analyze the strategy involved. Perhaps someone like Bernard Hopkins."
Some details remain fuzzy, but the main attraction is set, a chance to see Frazier in his finest hour, a chance to acknowledge what he did for the city of Philadelphia.
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