PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                     July 23, 2009 - News & Notes


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The proposed larger-than-life bronze statue of Joey Giardello is on track for a scheduled May 2010 unveiling. Artist Carl LeVotch began work on a 1/4 scale model of the piece in his makeshift studio in the attic of the Veteran Boxers Association clubhouse, after several sketches and a few small dry runs in clay. LeVotch began working on this miniature version about one month ago. Where this version measures about 24 inches and looks out over a dusty 2nd floor workspace, the final piece will scale an imposing 7 feet, and will forever stand on a busy patch of real estate on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly.

Joey Giardello was one of Philly's greatest ring legends. He held the world middleweight crown for almost two years, after a long boxing campaign filled with signature bouts with more than 100 fine opponents. Joey fought and earned all that he achieved, and was never handed anything. He won a loyal fan base and battled his way into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, as well as every other Hall connected to boxing. So it is fitting that he will become the very first Philadelphia boxer to be honored with a public bronze figure.

A couple of years ago, this web site (Philly Boxing History) commissioned the same artist to create a 14 inch statue of 1970s legend Bennie Briscoe as the model for its Briscoe Award. LeVotch answered that call and produced a memorable piece of the popular ring warrior. The first Briscoe Awards were given out last year and will continue as a local annual tradition. But the statue of Giardello is very different. It will stand more than a full foot taller than the real man it resembles, and will be placed in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the South Philadelphia neighborhood that nurtured Giardello's rise in the sport. Once placed, it will not only become the city's greatest monument to the sport of boxing, it is sure to become Philadelphia's newest tourist attraction as well.  

Such a project is quite an undertaking, and it took the collaboration of three groups to make it happen. Philly Boxing History partnered with the Veteran Boxers Association (VBA-Ring 1) and the Harrowgate Boxing Club to form the non-profit effort now known as the Joey Giardello Statue Project. To market and track the progress of the project, the group launched the web site -

With more than half of the necessary funds needed to complete the project already in the bank, and with LeVotch in the process of creating a compelling likeness of the famous champ, the monument is well on its way to becoming a reality.

Imagine about ten months from now. A crowd will gather on and around the triangle of East Passyunk Avenue, South 13th Street, and Mifflin Street. Among those assembled that day will be the Giardello (Tilelli) family, boxing celebrities, fight fans, donors & sponsors of the project, local officials, and the news media. A representative of Joey's family - perhaps his widow, perhaps one of his sons, or his grandchildren - will reach up, pull the rope to reveal the Joey Giardello Statue, and officially begin the bronzed champ's public stand in South Philly.

It will be a great day. The only thing missing will be the real Joey Giardello, who passed away in September 2008. It would have been even better if it was Giardello himself who had the opportunity to do the honors of revealing the figure. But time marches on, and Joey is no longer with us. However, once this monument is placed, it will remain with us forever, serving as a constant reminder of Giardello's accomplishments, and as a tribute to the important place that the history of boxing holds in the city of Philadelphia.

The Joey Giardello Statue Project needs your help to complete our efforts. Although we are well underway, we still need your financial support to make it to the finish line. Please visit to learn more about the project and to find out how you can get involved. Contributions of any size will help to make this dream a reality. Larger sponsorship opportunities are also available for those who wish to do more. All donations are completely tax deductible, and will directly help to create and place the Giardello statue.




John DiSanto - News & Notes - July 23, 2009