The late real life boxing champion Smokin' Joe Frazier will face Rocky Balboa in a monumental battle this fall. Frazier, who died in 2011, was a great champion and son of Philadelphia linked for eternity with the city and with Muhammad Ali--and the great battles the two men fought. Ali-Frazier is a pairing almost every sports fan knows, even those who were born long after boxing's heyday.
Now the posthumous Frazier will face an even bigger challenge than Ali ever presented--and that's Rocky Balboa. Artist Stephen Layne is building a 9-foot tall statue of Frazier that will compete for the city's affections with the giant Rocky statue that is among Philadelphia's most enduring tourist attractions. The fictional Rocky--whose name has been synonymous with underdogs and Philadelphia since the first Rocky film in 1976--maintains a huge presence in the psyche of the city. But Frazier was a real man, whose accomplishments--including an Olympic gold medal--are as great a personification of this American city as even Rocky Balboa's iconic rise.
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