Joe Frazier, former Olympic gold medalist and heavy weight boxer, will be honored by a statue in his adopted state of Philadelphia after a year of what seemed to be forgotten glory.
Joe Frazier, whose career as a heavyweight boxer lasted over a decade between 1965 and 1976, passed away in November of last year. Since his passing, his gym in Philadelphia has been all but forgotten. It was replaced by a furniture store that kept the name of the gym on the red brick building and now advertises that it has "knockout prices."
After retiring Frazier had continued to train boxers for years at his local gym, in his Pennsylvania hometown. The gym was once sought out by dreamers who, much like a younger Frazier, aspired to make careers out of boxing. But despite efforts he put back into the community, the community itself seemed to forget about the once famous boxer following his death.
"There's a statue of Rocky, a movie prop, at the Art Museum, but nothing to honor a legitimate heavyweight champion who came out of Philadelphia," Stan Hochman, an 83-year-old sportswriter for The Philadelphia Daily News, told The New York Times.
But forgetting Frazier is not an option for some. Dennis Playdon, an adjunct professor of architecture at Temple University, is now striving alongside his students to commemorate Frazier's gym as a historical landmark.
Fans also hope to erect a statue that will honor Frazier in his hometown.
"We owe it to him," Lorenzo Carrecter, the athletic director of a nearby recreation center, told the Times. Carrecter claimed that Frazier and his gym had played a big role in turning his life around and saving him from the streets.
Frazier retired following two large losses, one to Muhammad Ali for the 1975 World Title Challenge. The loss, and Ali's "pre fight pep talk" would go on to haunt Frazier for the rest of his life.