By Anne-Marie Green
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A statue honoring late boxing great Joe Frazier is going up soon. Many say it’s a long overdue tribute to a Philadelphia sports icon.
“These are the gloves that Joe wore when he fought Oscar Bonavano,” said Joe Hand, Sr.
The walls of Hand’s office is Joe Frazier museum. He was business partners with the heavy weight champion end even helped him buy the gym where he trained so many promising boxers in North Philadelphia. It’s now a furniture store and with Frazier’s name slowly fading from the façade.
“It hurts a little bit,” said Hand.
Something that also bothered Hand was that Frazier never had a statue honoring him in his adopted home of Philadelphia, but someone else did – Rocky.
“I would say to Joe, ‘Does this bother you?’ ‘No, it don’t bother me at all. I don’t give a hoot about it.’ But you could tell it did.
“There is a fictional Hollywood character. It’s an ugly statue and here we have a real live heavyweight champion who learned his craft in Philadelphia and deserves to be honored,” said Stan Hochmon.
Never one to mince words, long time sports writer Stan Hochman says Frazier may not have had the charisma of a Mohammed Ali, but he was true blue Philly.
“He symbolizes the city – blue collar, hard working. His mantra was, ‘No short cuts.’”
There will be no short cuts for the Frazier statue. Last January Hand promised he would personally make it happen within a year. He began raising money and meeting with sculptors, but the project has since been taken over by Frazier’s family and the city. There is talk of placing it in the Sports Complex by the Xfinity live building.
“Philadelphia should be very very proud of him,” said Hand.
More information about the statue and how you can donate money should be released a little later on this week.