Joe Frazier’s Gym
2917 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia
UPDATES: In May 2013, the Preservation Alliance partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia to explore reuse opportunities for the gym. The results of this preliminary study are available HERE.
On June 14, 2013, the Philadelphia Historical Commission added Joe Frazier’s Gym to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, protecting it from inappropriate alterations and unnecessary demolition. CLICK HERE to view the nomination, which was submitted by the Preservation Alliance.
In June 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added the gym to its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. CLICK HERE to help save this Philadelphia landmark!
Significance: Smokin’ Joe Frazier was one of the greatest boxers of all time. In 1968, Frazier converted a North Philadelphia lumber warehouse into the Cloverlay Gym. He trained here for the duration of his legendary career, living in a modest apartment above the gym after amassing one of boxing’s most celebrated career records of 32-4-1. His 1971 victory over Muhammad Ali in the “Fight of the Century” is still considered one of the sport’s most epic bouts. After his retirement in 1976, Frazier devoted himself to the gym, which became an ad-hoc community center for its North Philadelphia neighborhood. Frazier passed away in November 2011.
Threat: Joe Frazier’s Gym closed in 2008 and the building was sold. A furniture outlet recently opened in the former ground-floor gym, but the upper floors are boarded up and unoccupied. Though Frazier’s name is still legible across the face of the building, little is left to commemorate the importance of the site, which is again listed for sale. In a city more associated with a fictional boxer than a real champion, Joe Frazier’s legacy is in danger of losing its most tangible link.
Recommendation: Frazier’s hopes of transforming the site into a boxing museum and community center were ultimately unrealized in his lifetime, but will remain a compelling vision as long as the building remains standing. Listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places would help protect the physical building while honoring one of the city’s great citizens.
Media coverage of Joe Frazier’s Gym:
- “A Collaborative Effort to Help Save Joe Frazier’s Gym,” Preservation Leadership Forum, Sept. 19, 2014
- “Hopkins plans to turn Frazier’s gym into community Center,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 4, 2014
- “Making Joe Frazier’s Gym a historical site won’t be easy,” Philadelphia Business Journal, Aug. 22, 2014
- “Bernard Hopkins plans to buy Joe Frazier’s Gym, but with help,” Metro, July 27, 2014
- “At Joe Frazier’s former gym, memories linger,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 3, 2014
- “Joe Frazier’s Gym gets historic status,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2013
- “Joe Frazier’s Gym added to ‘America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places’ list,” WHYY Newsworks, June 6, 2012
- “Time running out to save Joe Frazier’s Gym,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 8, 2012
- “Joe Frazier wins a belated embrace as Philadelphia starts a fight,” New York Times, September 5, 2012