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Laurel Park in the West End has a new name honoring a Cincinnati icon

artistic rendering of bronze statue of man in boxing stance atop a stone pedestal surrounded by a concrete oval with benches and trees in the background.
Cincinnati Parks Foundation
An artist rendering of the planned Ezzard Charles memorial in the newly renamed Ezzard Charles Park.

The Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners voted recently to rename Laurel Park in the West End to Ezzard Charles Park. The renaming honors West End native and champion boxer, Ezzard Charles.

The change comes at the request of the West End Community Council, along with Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses and signed petitions of support from the community.

"Ezzard Charles, ‘the Cincinnati Cobra’, was one of the most famous individuals to grow up in the West End of Cincinnati," writes Alexis Kidd Zaffer, executive director of Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses in a letter supporting the change. "His legacy as a world champion boxer in three weight classes, as an army veteran, multi-lingual, musician, and tailor are reasons we respect and desire to honor him. It is our desire to further honor and recognize him by changing the name of Laurel Park to Ezzard Charles Park."

Laurel Park, which sits along both sides of Ezzard Charles Drive just east of Linn Street, was created in the 1930s. Jennifer Spieser, executive director of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, says the name didn't hold special significance.

"We worked with the Cincinnati Park Board to confirm that Laurel Park was named after the Laurel Homes development in the West End."

It was created to offset the loss of Lincoln Park, which once covered the land where Union Terminal now stands.

New signage is slated to be installed in time for the unveiling of thelong-planned statue of Ezzard Charles during Ezz Fest on Oct. 1.

Charles would train for boxing matches by running through the West End, across Over-the-Rhine and up to Eden Park. Prior to the statue unveiling at Ezz Fest, Cincinnati Parks is hosting a 10k that follows his training route. The Cincinnati Cobra Race starts at 7:30 a.m. Ezz Fest runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the statue unveiling at 10:30 a.m., according to Spieser.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.