Sad story today about Lawrence Nowlan, the 48-year-old sculptor and Philadelphia native who passed away unexpectedly from natural causes last Tuesday. Nowlan, who may be best known by Philly sports fans for the Harry Kalas statue that resides in Citizens Bank Park, was just beginning work in earnest on a Joe Frazier tribute that was planned outside Xfinity Live!, the site of the old Spectrum.
According to Christian Avard of the Rutland Herald, the Frazier statue was expected to be eight-feet tall and weigh 800 lbs. It was going to depict the moment the former heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist knocked down Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in 1971 in the battle dubbed as the “Fight of the Century.” Nowlan had recently completed the mold for Frazier’s head.
Hayden said the final version of the Frazier statue has not been completed but the city is not ready to discuss the next steps for the project. Right now, they are coping with the sudden loss of a sculptor who was true to his Philadelphia roots while living in New Hampshire and working in Vermont.
“We’re just stunned by it,” Hayden said in a phone interview. “(Nowlan) was very excited about the project and so was the city and the Frazier family. We were finally at the point where we were going to commemorate the life of a boxing legend as opposed to (Rocky Balboa), a fake character from a movie. It’s just stunning. It’s very tragic.”
Frazier of course is a Philadelphia legend who lived in the city and also owned a gym there. He passed in 2011 at age 67.
The news about Nowlan is terrible in its own right, as 48 is still a particularly young age to be taken. It seems for now the loss places the Smokin’ Joe project on hold indefinitely, although since the money has already been allocated perhaps somebody else can eventually take up the cause and finish Nowlan’s final work.
>> Sculptor commissioned to complete Joe Frazier statue has died [The Starting Five]