An artist has been chosen to create a Philadelphia statue in honor of late hometown boxing great Joe Frazier.
Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement Wednesday that Lawrence Nowlan will create the statue to be erected by spring 2014 at an entertainment complex near Philadelphia's three sports stadiums near the now-demolished Spectrum, an arena where Frazier fought.
“I have no doubt that Lawrence Nowlan will capture Joe Frazier’s tenacity, energy and spirit in his work,” said Nutter. “Mr. Nowlan’s previous work has proven to be exceptional, and I look forward to the finished product. Smokin’ Joe is one of Philadelphia’s great sports icons and deserves to be memorialized this way."
Nowlan was selected by a statue review panel after eight artists were solicited for presentations. The panel included several representatives from the Frazier family.
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“To kids like me, growing up in Philadelphia in the 1970s, Joe Frazier was a hero. I became aware of Joe Frazier, the athlete and Smokin' Joe, the personality during an era when the sweet science of boxing was at the forefront of the sporting world,” said Nowlan. “To be selected by the Frazier family to create the monument that will forever represent one Philadelphia's most enduring icons and greatest boxers is a heavyweight honor to me. Words cannot properly describe the gravity and meaning that sculpting this monument will have on this artist.”
"Smokin' Joe'' slugged his way to the heavyweight title in 1971 by becoming the first boxer to beat Muhammad Ali. They fought two more classic bouts, including 1975's "Thrilla in Manila.'' Frazier lost both rematches. Frazier died in November 2011 of liver cancer.