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Locals push to complete boxing champ statue

Springfield legend Davey Moore died after match nearly 50 years ago.

Clark County commissioners might donate $2,000 toward an effort to erect a statue in honor of Springfield boxer Davey Moore.

Moore fought in the Olympic Games, won the world featherweight title and competed around the globe before dying from a brain injury suffered in a nationally televised featherweight title defense fight against Cuban emigre Ultiminio “Sugar” Ramos at Dodger Stadium in 1963.

Supporters have been trying for years to raise $90,000 for the statue, but are about $35,000 short.

Commissioners John Detrick and Rick Lohnes, both Republicans, said they would support donating money for the project.

“We’re just giving it a little help. It’s a good project for the community and is a statement to the past success of Davey Moore,” Detrick said Tuesday.

Commissioner David Hartley, a Democrat, said he would support it only if city commissioners follow through with plans to donate $2,000 for the statue.

County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said commissioners likely cannot give the money directly to fundraisers due to state law, but he said they may be able to give the funds to National Trail Parks and Recreation.

John Landess, executive director of the Springfield Foundation, said he’s asked county and city officials and others in the community to donate money for the statue instead of waiting for a large donation from one or two major donors.

Landess said he hopes to reach the goal by March 14, which is days before the 50th anniversary of Moore’s last fight on March 21, 1963.

“(Moore) was a world champion boxer, and it needs to be known we (had) a champion in Springfield,” Landess said.

After Moore’s death, there was a public outcry. Pope John XXIII called the sport “barbaric.” California Gov. Pat Brown pushed for abolishing the sport, as did several Ohio lawmakers, newspaper columnist Tom Archdeacon wrote in 2008.

Folk singer Phil Ochs wrote a song “Davey Moore,” and Bob Dylan penned “Who Killed Davey Moore ?” — an ode that posed the question to rabid fight fans, Moore’s manager, the ref, boxing writers, gamblers and Ramos himself, Archdeacon wrote.

Moore attended Fulton Elementary School and Keifer Junior High School in Springfield before competing as an amateur boxer.

He won four regional Golden Gloves titles, fought in the Olympics in 1952 and made his professional debut in 1953.

The statue has already been built in clay by Urbana sculptor Mike Major, but it still needs to be cast into bronze.

Major has done several statues in Springfield and says the Moore statue has been in the works for several years. He said he if the community can raise the remaining funds, the Moore statue could be placed at the Davey Moore Park by year’s end.

“The family deserves to have this completed. They’ve been very patient, and so has the community,” Major said.

City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said he personally has donated money toward the project, but the issue has not been brought before the full board for formal action.

“It is a good cause. It’s been in the process for two or three years. But it hasn’t come to us,” O’Neill said.

Mayor Warren Copeland said city officials are mulling plans to donate $2,000 toward the project from the city’s operating budget. He said the issue may be discussed at the city commission meeting next week.

“We’re playing a very small role (in this project),” Copeland said.

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