Sylvester Stallone’s fictional character, Rocky Balboa, in the memorable film, “Rocky” is what many will conjure up when they think about a Philadelphia-born prizefighter, but the City of Brotherly Love is working on changing that. Artist Stephen Layne is in the final stages of completing a 9-foot tall, 1,800-pound clay sculpture of the late boxing great Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier as a tribute to the hometown champ, according Fox 23.
The former World heavyweight champ, who passed away three years ago at age 67 from liver cancer, was actually born in Beaufort, South Carolina but settled in Philly and called the city home.
The statue project came to fruition two years ago but there were stumbling blocks along the way. The original sculptor passed away and then fundraising efforts to pay for the endeavor hit a brick wall. Finally, Layne was commissioned to finish the project, after four private donors ponied up $160,000, and the process resumed again in March.
Frazier, who was an Olympic gold medal winner in 1964, had a stellar boxing career that ended with a record of 32-4-1, with 27 knockouts. He was, however, most noted for his professional matches with Muhammad Ali, another titan of the ring. As a matter of fact, two of Frazier’s losses were during matches with Ali, including the legendary 1975 “Thrilla In Manilla.”
The sculpture will be placed about five miles south of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Frazier’s daughter, Weatta Collins, is reportedly working with tourism officials to have her dad’s memorial will be included on sightseeing maps.
The statue will reportedly be unveiled next spring.