Boxing legend “Smokin’” Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia — where the heavyweight champion lived and trained for his first bout with Muhammad Ali — is among the United States’ most endangered historical buildings of 2012, a D.C.-based preservation non-profit announced Wednesday.
Once used by Frazier to prepare for the “Fight of the Century,”the modest, three-story brick building now houses a discount furniture store and two vacant floors. Without formal historic recognition, Joe Frazier’s gym is at risk to be sold or even demolished, according to the trust’s Web site.
“Joe Frazier was a sports legend, and he deserves a place that celebrates his legacy and his contributions to the sport of boxing,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in a statement. “Without question, Joe Frazier’s Gym is an important historic and cultural site, and bringing both protection and recognition to this site by placing it on the local and national registers would be a fitting tribute to one of our greatest athletes of all time.”
The gym is part of the “11 Most Endangered Historic Places,” a list compiled by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help maintain historic buildings. Now in its 25th anniversary, this year’s list also includes the Ellis Island hospital complex, Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota, Terminal Island in Los Angeles and the former home of Malcolm X, among others.
“Our history takes place in the most common looking buildings,” Meeks said. “We invest in these places for as long as it takes to protect them.”
Meeks said the trust teams up with roughly 15 million local preservationists from across the country to help safeguard the nation’s historic sites. But despite the trust’s success in preserving national sites, just three percent of 86,000 protected historic buildings in the U.S. represent the history of the country’s minority population.
“That is why we have three African American sites and one Japanese American site listed this year,” she said.
As part of the trust’s campaign to save Joe Frazier’s gym, the trust will raise the $10,000 necessary to register the building with the city of Philadelphia, develop a preservation plan and identify a “friendly” buyer.
For a full list of this year’s endangered historic sites, click here.