Joe Hand

Joe Hand, Sr. inspects new Frazier-Ali statue the company will unveil Monday, March 8, the 50th anniversary of the legendary “Fight of the Century.”

— PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE HAND PROMOTIONS

If you plan to honor a special person, then you should do something that reflects this size of the individual and the moment. On Monday, March 8 friends and family members of former world heavyweight champion and Philadelphia sports legend Joe Frazier will dedicate and unveil a new 9-foot-tall, 1,600-pound statue on the 50th anniversary of the huge Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali heavyweight battle that took place March 8, 1971. This fight was tagged as "The Fight of the Century."

The statue will be the new signature piece that should inspire a number of younger fighters who train at the new Joe Hand Gym in Feasterville, PA. Joe Hand, Sr. was one of Frazier's managers. Hand will be able to share some insight and memories and why his company will have the statue in their new gym. The event will take place at 11 a.m.

Frazier's daughter, Weatta Frazier Collins, and Frazier's son, Joe Frazier, Jr., will represent the family. Weatta Frazier Collins has worked hard to extend her father's legacy with "The Legacy Exists: Joe Frazier Scholarship Fund to pay tribute to and recognize the late boxing champion, Joe Frazier. Scholarships are presented for educational, recreational and social programs to at-risk youth between 13-19 years of age.

The statue was designed by Chris Collins and its bronze casting and base are from Laran Bronze, Inc., of Chester. It was originally commissioned by Dr. Nicholas DePace for use in the future Philadelphia Museum of Sports, but will be in Joe Hand's Gym.

"The Fight of the Century is such a blessing for the family," Frazier Collins said. "We're just honored that Chris Collins has captured his image. He wanted to honor him. He won the first Ali-Frazier [fight] they would use that pose of him and Ali. It's just an honor to be able to continue his legacy."

Joe Hand, Jr., president of Joe Hand Promotions, is really thrilled with Collins' design of the statue. Hand is impressed with the creativity in putting the statue together that depicts this historic fight.

"Chris called me," Hand said. "I guess about two years ago. He said, 'Joe see if you can talk to you dad [Joe Hand, Sr.] into coming over to my studio in Glenside, PA. I was commissioned by Dr. Nicholas DePace to do a state of Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali from a photograph of the Fight of the Century. 

"I know your dad knows Joe [Frazier]. I want to get his opinion because I think the statue really looks like him. It's only in clay now. I said, 'Yeah, I can come over.' We get in the car and drive over a couple days later. We show up  and we go into this barn adjacent to Chris' house and we walk in.  

"For about three or four minutes, there was not a sound in the building as my dad and I stood there as we looked at these two 9-foot-tall statues that were two feet off the ground. We just kind of continue to walk around them. My dad finally broke his silence and said I think this might be the greatest Joe Frazier statue I've ever seen. It's so life like. It looks so much like him."

"The Fight of the Century," Frazier came into the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8, 1971, and defeated Ali in a sensational 15-round unanimous decision, claiming victory to the WBC/WBA heavyweight championship.  

Joe Hand Promotions is the leading provider of live content to bars, restaurants, and other public viewing venues. The business brings communities together to watch sporting events since 1971. 

This is an great time for Joe Hand Gym with its new location at 213 West Street Road in Feasterville. 

"If you look at our family and how we got involved with boxing, it happened with Joe Frazier and Clover Lay when they started that company to manage Joe's [Frazier] career," Hand said. "My father was one of the original investors in that.

"We're celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. It's the 50th anniversary of the fight. We're opening our brand new headquarters and our new gym. I couldn't have planned it any better."

There will be a live streaming of the event on Joe Hand Promotions Facebook on Monday. In addition, there will be an online auction for memorabilia to support the Joe Frazier Scholarship Fund. For more information go to www.memorabiliaforcharities.com/thelegacyexists

215-893-5719; dhunt@phillytrib.com

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