Donations sought for Joe Frazier statue

Sept. 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Efforts are under way to raise $150,000 in private donations for a statue of the late heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier in Philadelphia, organizers say.

Mayor Michael Nutter and members of Frazier's family announced the fundraising campaign Wednesday. The statue would be placed near the three sports stadiums in South Philadelphia.

Xfinity contributed $25,000 to start the ball rolling, with hopes of completing the sculpture by the end of next year, officials said.

Frazier, whose hard-charging style earned him the moniker "Smokin' Joe," died of cancer in November at age 67. He had a 32-4-1 record as a professional, including 27 knockouts. He won the world heavyweight title against Jimmy Ellis in 1970, but it was his three bouts with Muhammad Ali, including a win in 1971 when both were undefeated, that top most boxing fans' memories of him. He also won an Olympic gold medal in 1964.

"Joe Frazier was undoubtedly one of the greatest heavyweight champions ever," Nutter said. "He fought in a style that truly embodies the city of Philadelphia."

Frazier moved to Philadelphia as a teenager after previously living in New York and South Carolina.

His daughter Renee Frazier-Martin, 51, said she was pleased her father will be honored with a statue.

"Sometimes heroes and champions are honored after they're gone," Frazier-Martin said.

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