“Around the world, there is a fictional fighter known for embodying Philadelphia’s fighting spirit. But in Philly, we know that Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins are true-life world champions, and we are proud to make sure future generations know their stories.”
That’s the hope, says our Executive Director Maura McCarthy, of the new-and-improved Boxers’ Trail Gateway in East Fairmount Park. The once underutilized structure, which was originally installed in 2008, which was recently dedicated on Wednesday, September 2 as a modern monument to Philly’s local boxing legends.
Fairmount Park Conservancy gathered for this socially distant dedication at Greenland and Dauphin Drives with the Strawberry Mansion community, design firm Little Giant Creative, relatives of the Joe Frazier family, and Bernard Hopkins.
“We’re honored to be able to share the story of the Boxers’ Trail in Fairmount Park with the help of our friends in the Strawberry Mansion and boxing communities,” said McCarthy. “We hope this exciting new gateway offers a place for both reflection and inspiration from the athletes who paved a path for future generations.”
This modern monument has been years in the making. The entire project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Strawberry Mansion community, the local boxing community, and family members of the boxers, who all met many times with the Conservancy and LGC over the years to share their stories of the Boxers’ Trail.
“I have left history on that trail and I’m glad and honored to be part of it through hard work and dedication,” Hopkins said during the dedication.
Bernard Hopkins poses in front of the new Boxers’ Trail Gateway signage.
Today, the new-and-improved gateway features custom lettering reading, “Boxers’ Trail” and “shadow boxer” silhouette. The panels highlight the boxing careers of Bennie Briscoe, Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, and Matthew Saad Muhammad and provide a map of the Boxers’ Trail. Other panels include tips on fundamental boxing moves demonstrated by amateur boxers from the nearby Athletic Rec Center’s boxing gym as well as the creed of Joe Frazier’s gym.
Visitors can use this gateway as a jumping off point to the 3.8-mile Boxers’ Trail, which offers paved and wooded paths through Fairmount Park and has long been a popular training spot for local boxers.
“On behalf of the Frazier family, we want to thank you for this honor and recognition,” said Joe Frazier, Jr. “I truly believe it is never too late to do the right thing and as usual God is right on time. Our father never made it about himself and the acknowledgement of these other illustrious Philadelphia boxers is also the right thing to do.”
The Frazier family celebrates the modern monument that honors the late Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
This project was made possible with support from ArtPlace America.
To learn more about the 2020 Virtual Boxers’ Trail 5K, please visit boxerstrail5k.com.