EZZARD CHARLES STATUE

IN LAUREL PARK

We are erecting a statue of a West End advocate and icon, on the street named for him.

Ezzard Charles is a Cincinnati legend. More than a Heavyweight Champion of the World, Ezzard Charles was a West End resident, entrepreneur, renowned jazz enthusiast, and a brilliant Renaissance man. We are erecting a statue to honor his legacy within Laurel Park along Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End of Cincinnati.

Who was Ezzard Charles?

Known as the Cincinnati Cobra, Ezzard Charles was a professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion from 1949 – 1951. A long time Cincinnatian, he was also an entrepreneur, a musician, a multilinguist, and a good-will ambassador to the West End community, where he lived at the height of his boxing career. The statue is to be erected within Laurel Park along Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End of Cincinnati. 

Illustration of Ezzard Charles

More than a statue

More than a statue, this project has ignited the community and partnerships across the city. Each October, the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses host the annual Ezz Fest celebration, which features live jazz music, free food for the neighborhood, and family activities. MadTree Brewing, who also supports the Fall Releaf program, has joined the project by committing to donate more than 100 trees to the park and surrounding neighborhood.

The Ezzard Charles Statue in Laurel Park

Through the generosity of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation—as well as several other community partners—the bronze statue and plaza commemorating the life and legacy of Cincinnati’s World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Ezzard Charles, will soon be realized in the heart of the West End.

The statue is to be erected within Laurel Park along Ezzard Charles Drive in the West End of Cincinnati. Local artist John Hebenstreit, known for the Black Brigade monument in Smale Riverfront Park, began sculpting the 13-foot statue of Ezzard Charles in 2017. The work of the Ezz Committee—consisting of two former Haile fellows, designer Jason Snell & videographer Kailah Ware, as well as architect Jaipal Singh, writer James Cunningham, and Hebenstreit—supports the concept originated by CPF Board member and pop-artist, Andrew VanSickle.

The Ezzard Charles statue project prompted a revitalization of Laurel Park, including the sculpture, the planting of over 100 new trees, the installation of benches, wayfinding signage, a progressive web application (app), free public WiFi, and an accessible plaza for all to enjoy.

THANK YOU TO THE EZZARD CHARLES STATUE DONORS:

Heavyweight Champion

Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation


Knockdown

CHAATRIK Architecture & Urban Design
CPF Emerging Leaders
Ernst & Young
FC Cincinnati Foundation
Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial
MadTree Brewing
Montgomery Inn/Dean Gregory
PNC Charitable Trust
Mike Ruehlman
Perfetti Van Melle


Jab

Artswave
LaRosa’s Inc.
The Maschmeier Boys & Girls
Jim Messner
Dr. O’Dell M. Owens


Punch

Andrew & Shanna Barton
Harry & Natalie Cappel
Cincinnati Bell
Adam & Rebecca Coleman
Fay Dupuis
The E.W. Scripps Company
Fifth Third Bank
GE Foundation
Tom Hankinson
Scott Kohlhepp
Macy’s
Scott Oyler
Rosemary Schlachter
Taft Law
Thornton Family Charitable Fund
Brian Tiffany

EZZARD CHARLES COMMITTEE

Andrew Van Sickle
John Hebenstreit
Kailah Ware
Jason Snell
James Cunningham III
Ezzard Charles II
Bill Dettloff
Mike Ruehlman
Jaipal Singh

Ezz Fest

EZZ Fest is an arts, athletics, and music festival on Saturday, October 9, 2021 from 10am to 2pm.
 
The Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, West End Community Council, Cincinnati Parks, and Cincinnati Parks Foundation invite you to join in celebration of the official groundbreaking for the statue honoring the life and legacy of World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and favorite son of Cincinnati’s West End, Ezzard Charles, to be erected and dedicated in Laurel Park in 2022.
 
Following the groundbreaking ceremony at the statue’s future site within Laurel Park at 10am, please join the fun of the 4th Annual Ezz Fest—the West End’s arts, athletics, and music festival that celebrates Ezzard Charles’s contributions to the West End’s rich history. Enjoy a community picnic, live music, boxing activities, a family fun area, and local vendors.
 
This free fest will be fun for all ages and celebrate Ezzard Charles and West End's rich history! 
 
Agenda:
Ezzard Charles Statue Groundbreaking
Boxing & Sparring Demos
Family Fun Area
Live Bands
Food Vendors
 
Ezz Fest Sponsors:
Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses
Cincinnati Parks Foundation
Cincinnati Parks
FC Cincinnati
The Maschmeier Boys and Girls

Crosstown Climb Race

About the Race:

When local boxing great and west-end resident Ezzard Charles, the “Cobra”, prepared for boxing matches, he’d run on the streets and in the Parks of Cincinnati.  Follow in Ezz’s footsteps on Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 am at the CINCINNATI COBRA RACE on the Crosstown Climb. 

Thanks to a collaboration between the Cincinnati Parks Foundation and go Vibrant, the “Crosstown Climb” route is a moderate 2.42-mile climb from Laurel Park to Eden Park and back.  The race covers roughly 5 miles. 

The race kicks off the Ezzard Charles Statue Dedication at Laurel Park following the race at 10:30 am, followed by the annual Ezz Fest, a west-end community festival celebrating the life and legacy of Ezz, at noon.  Race participants are encouraged to stay for the festivities. 

Location of the race/event:

Laurel Park (500 Ezzard Charles Drive, Cincinnati, OH  45214)

7 am – Packet Pick Up

7:30 am – CINCINNATI COBRA RACE on the Crosstown Climb (moderate 5-mile race).

Registration:

$25 (includes t-shirt and Cincinnati Parks Foundation sweat bands)

All race proceeds will be donated to a maintenance endowment for the Ezzard Charles Statue at Laurel Park through the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, the primary philanthropic partner of the Cincinnati Parks.

Register here:  CINCINNATI COBRA RACE on the Crosstown Climb (runsignup.com)

Running Age Groups/Divisions:

Cincinnati COBRA Badges – Like the heavyweight title belt that Ezzard Charles (Ezz) proudly wore, the Cincinnati COBRA Badges represent various virtues and facets of our beloved hero.  Explore all four badges along the COBRA route during the race.

Champ - Male 1-35

Heart - Male 36+

Soul- Female 1-35

Spirit - Female 36+

Walker Divisions: Welcome at the back of the pack

Legend – Male

Legacy - Female

For questions, please contact emily@cincinnatiparksfoundation.org