Heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier has long been a figure of importance in Philadelphia, but during his best athletic years, he was never honored in a way that would continue his legacy in the city. After his death last November of liver cancer, many think it’s now an imperative.
“We have a whole generation of Philadelphia sports fans who need to be educated on Frazier’s career,” Richard Hayden, liaison for Frazier’s estate, said.
Now, it looks like fans will get their wish. A statue honoring Frazier will be placed in the Xfinity Live! complex in South Philadelphia sometime next year; a website called FrazierStatue.com will be launched at the end of this week to garner donations for the project, which will also be helped along by the city.
Frazier’s athletic prowess isn’t the only reason to erect a statue in his honor, those who knew him claim; he was simply a really good guy, the man you called when you needed something, and he never asked for anything in return.
“Whether it was the mayor calling on him or a charity calling on him, he never said no, and he never asked to be paid,” former Philadelphia mayor Edward Rendell said.
Since Frazier’s death, some individuals are also looking into turning his old gym–in North Philly–into a historic site. Dennis Playdon, a professor at Temple University, got involved when he noticed a “For Sale” sign on the building and began researching what it will take to have the gym listed as a place of importance in the city.
“It occurred to me this was going to be an endangered building, and Joe Frazier’s Gym shouldn’t be lost,” said Playdon.