Philly artist Stephen Layne is applying the finishing touches to a 9-foot-tall, 1,800-pound sculpture of Joe Frazier that will stand in South Philly at Xfinity Live. The statue captures the boxer mid-punch. Layne modeled it after a photograph of the moment Frazier floored Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in 1971. He thought that pose did a better job representing Philly than the statue of that other (ahem, fake) boxer over at the Art Museum.
“That pose of glory … the Rocky pose, I don’t think that’s quite the vibe of Philadelphia,” Layne told AP.
Layne, who attended and taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) says the sculpture should be finished by the end of September, at which point it will go through a molding process before it is cast in bronze and installed at Xfinity Live. The unveiling’s expected to happen sometime around next April.
The real question here is whether or not the Frazier sculpture get as much attention as Rocky. “Properly promoted, I think it would be much, much bigger than Rocky,” one Canadian visitor told AP. “Rocky is great, it’s a movie. But Joe Frazier’s real. And he’s Philadelphia.”
Very true, but will tourists travel that far outside the Center City tourist circuit to see it? Frazier’s daughter Weatta Collins is working with Philadelphia tourist authorities to make sure Frazier memorial is included on local sightseeing maps, so that should help. Plus, it’ll get tons of selfie time with sports fans visiting Xfinity Live.
Read more of AP’s coverage of the sculpture here.