In front of thousands who came to pay their final respects to boxing legend Joe Frazier, civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson urged Philadelphia government officials to make a statue of the city icon a reality.
Jackson was among a long list of dignitaries including boxing greats Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, promoter Don King and athletes such as Dennis Rodman, who attended the funeral in Northwest Philly. Jackson compared Frazier’s accomplishments to that of fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, whose likeness in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a landmark.
“Tell them Rocky was not a champion, Joe Frazier was,” Jackson said to thunderous applause. “Rocky never tasted his own blood, he never faced Ken Norton, he never faced Ali, he never faced Larry Holmes.”
The effort to build a statue of Frazier is already said to be in the works by a group that includes former Gov. Ed Rendell, who was also in attendance yesterday. Mayor Michael Nutter’s spokesman said the mayor also backs the initiative.
“For him, it is personal and he very much wants Philadelphia to honor Joe Frazier,” said press secretary Mark McDonald.
Frazier died last week at the age of 67 after a bout with liver cancer.
Their last respects
Along with remarks from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other clergy members, those in attendance saw pre-recorded messages from Donald Trump, Mike Tyson and actor Mickey Rourke. There were also condolences from Larry Holmes, a former sparring partner of Frazier’s, described him as one of the greatest boxers of all time. “He treated me well as his sparring partner. That was a like a badge for me, a medal of honor for me to get hit by Joe Frazier,” Holmes said.