Phila. Art Commission approves Joe Frazier statue

A maquette of a statue of Joe Frazier by sculptor Stephen Layne. It would be placed in South Phila.
A maquette of a statue of Joe Frazier by sculptor Stephen Layne. It would be placed in South Phila.
Posted: December 06, 2013

The Philadelphia Art Commission on Wednesday approved sculptor Stephen Layne's design of one of the key moments in Joe Frazier's storied career - his knockdown of Muhammad Ali with a left hook in the 15th round of 1971's "Fight of the Century" - to honor the South Carolinian who made Philadelphia his home.

The nine-foot statue, to be placed outside Xfinity Live in South Philadelphia, will be unveiled in about a year. All that is left to sort out are details on lighting and finishing touches on the pedestal, according to lawyer Richard Hayden, who represents the entities and people, including the Cordish family and Comcast-Spectacor, who raised the $160,000 cost of the statue.

The statue also has the support of Mayor Nutter, who, according to Hayden, "thought it would be important to honor a real boxing hero" - a reference to the Rocky Balboa statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Frazier won a unanimous decision to become the first boxer to beat Ali. However, he lost two subsequent bouts with Ali, including 1975's "Thrilla in Manila."

The former champ died of liver cancer at 67 in November 2011. He went 32-4-1 with 27 knockouts in his pro career, and won the heavyweight gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Lawrence J. Nowlan, commissioned by the city panel in April to create the statue, died in late July, and Layne was chosen to complete the design.

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