Outside Xfinity Live! in the South Philly sports arena complex, a nine-foot-tall statue will now stand in tribute to one of Philadelphia’s hometown heroes: legendary boxer Joe Frazier.
Xfinity Live! is the former site of the First Union Spectrum boxing ring — where Frazier fought some of his toughest matches ,and where the Rocky statue was located from 1991 to 2006 until it was moved to its current location at the Art Museum.
Frazier’s lack of recognition while Sylvester Stallone’s fictitious boxer Rocky Balboa enjoys international celebrity and stands as a statue over the Philadelphia Art Museum steps has been a sore point for locals in recent years. Now Frazier, who has a cameo in the original Rocky, has his own statue.
Smokin’ Joe’ was immortalized in the pose that Frazier took after flooring Muhammad Ali.
Frazier died in 2011 at age 67 of liver cancer.
He won the Olympic heavyweight boxing gold medal for the United States in 1964 and held the world heavyweight boxing crown from 1970 to 1973.
Frazier is eternally linked with Ali thanks to their trilogy of fights in the 1970s which rank among the most famous ever in the sport. Frazier won the first and Ali took the next two.
Frazier won the world heavyweight title in 1970, knocking out champion Jimmy Ellis, after Ali had been stripped of the championship in 1967 for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War due to his Muslim beliefs.
Frazier, who was born in segregated South Carolina in 1944 as the youngest of 12 children, amassed a career record of 32-4-1.
Additional reporting by Reuters