Join the movement to recognize The Cincinnati Cobra with a statue in his neighborhood
Join Cincinnati business leaders, philanthropists and community activists in raising funds to design, build and erect a memorial statue of Ezzard Charles in the West End’s Laurel Park.
Help us exceed our $175,000 funding goal in support of Society of the Cincinnati Cobra, an online and onsite community of fans, supporters and advocates reigniting the Ezzard Charles story. Become a Society of the Cincinnati Cobra member and help re-introduce Ezz’s life lessons to 21st-century audiences.
Thanks to the Cincinnati Museum of Athletics for their support of this historic civic project.
A render by John Hebenstreit where the Ezzard Charles Statue will live, located on Ezzard Charles Drive, at Laurel Parkin the West End, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Society of The Cincinnati Cobra is an online/onsite community-building project uniting young adults, mentors and educators around life lessons inspired by “Ezz.”
Cincinnati boxer Ezzard “Ezz” Charles; who embraced community, courage, family and patriotism on both sides of the ring as Heavyweight Champion, Philanthropist, Teacher and Engaged Citizen.
Society of The Cincinnati Cobra begins onsite/offline with the planned public sculpture of Ezzard “Ezz” Charles in Cincinnati’s West End at the Laurel Recreation Area adjacent to the street that bears Charles’ name. The community grows throughout Greater Cincinnati via digital tools and onsite programming.
meet the Cincinnati artist
Cincinnati sculptor John Hebenstreit is the son of two fine artists. John credits his artistic knowledge to decades of personal instruction from his parents. He began sculpting at the age of ten, working in modeling clay with his mother. At nineteen John received a full scholarship to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Industrial Design Program. He later attended the Cincinnati Academy of Design where he honed his painting and illustration skills. Yet he continually returned to sculpting, his first artistic passion, and that is where he has flourished.
Sculpting in bronze, terra cotta, wax and plaster, John’s work is figurative, yet most of his effort goes toward creating balance within a piece. Always concerned with relationships, he spends much of his time working directly from life. He often consults the works of master sculptors Gianlorenzo Bernini, Michelangelo, Andrea del Verrocchio, and Donatello. Like the Classical and Renaissance artists whom he has studied, John believes that regardless of the subject matter he is sculpting, it is just as important to design a piece of sculpture with its surroundings as it is to design a sculpture for them.
In 2007 John completed a bronze sculpture of the historical figure George Vanderbilt commissioned by Biltmore Farms in Ashville, North Carolina. This seven foot tall sculpture represents Mr. Vanderbilt’s love of nature and hiking in the great outdoors. The statue is located in the center of a park within the Biltmore Ramble once part of the original Biltmore Estate. Jack Cecil, President of Biltmore Farms and great grandson of George Vanderbilt wanted the statue to be at one with the natural surroundings provided by the park. John suggested this could be achieved by mounting the finished bronze directly to a natural rock surface rather than placing him atop a pedestal. Jack liked the idea and had several large rocks brought in. A template was worked up to translate the needed height differential and placement of the statue’s feet so that it would accurately match the rock surface. Now complete and installed George Vanderbilt once again can survey the great outdoors.
As the official sculptor for Guitar Center Hollywood’s “Rock Walk” John has sculpted many legendary musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kurt Cobain. Some of his other commissions include a life-size bronze bust of Cincinnati’s first African-American Mayor, Theodore M. Berry, for the Cincinnati Park Board; a life-size bronze monk fountain commissioned by Towne Properties for the Mt. Adams Monastery as a monument to one of Cincinnati’s oldest historical landmarks; two life-size figures for The Black Brigade Monument commissioned by Cincinnati Park Board for Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati, Ohio; an eight foot tall statue of William Plumer Jacobs the founder of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina; and most recently John was awarded the commission to design and sculpt the International Freedom Conductor Award for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Statue at Laurel Park
649 Ezzard Charles Dr.
Cincinnati, OH, 45203
Become a member of the Society of The Cincinnati Cobra
Meet the Team
"Ezzard Charles is both a profile in courage and a model of selflessness in the face of personal struggle. I'm proud to be a supporter of this sculpture and to further the dialogue of one of Cincinnati's greatest home-grown heroes."
Chris Seelbach is a member of Cincinnati City Council and Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer of the nationally recognized marketing/consulting firm, The Seidewitz Group.
In 2004, Seelbach helped lead the successful effort to repeal Article XII, the anti-gay law that cost Cincinnati over $25 million in lost revenue, according to the Convention & Visitors Bureau. The repeal effort was the only winning gay rights initiative in the country that year.
Cincinnati Magazine recently named Seelbach one of the "New Power Players" in the Cincinnati region and the Cincinnati Business Courier named him to their 2012 "Forty under 40" class, along with featuring him on their cover under the headline, "Taking on City Hall: Chris Seelbach Earning Reputation as Council Maverick."
Seelbach, who also tutors at Rothenberg Elementary School and mentors business students at Xavier University, lives in Over-the-Rhine with his partner Craig Schultz and their four cats.
The inspiration for the Ezzard Charles statue was unexpected and immediate. I became a resident of the City West area in the summer of 2014. I would walk my pug around the neighborhood a few times a day. My dog attracted much attention from the young children and teens wanting to meet and pet him. It was with these interactions, I become fond of the conversations with the neighborhood "kids"
The question I would always ask was"tell me, who was Ezzard Charles?" Some kids would point to the Ezzard Charles street sign on the corner. Others had no idea who this man was. The Cincinnati Cobra who would run up and down the street from Music Hall to Union Terminal almost daily.
The boxing legend, lived in this neighborhood. Worked out in Laurel park. This was his community that helped create his "greatness". Ezzard Charles needed a statue to let the "kids" and any other Cincinnatian or any other visitor to the Queen City, how great this man was.
I feel strongly that Cincinnati citizens and the legions of boxing fans will come together to make this happen. Here we are. Laurel Park is the ideal city location were the statue will stand and be admired for eternity.
We Have become vikings
We Have Become Vikings is a group of rebels, rockers, thinkers and makers combining strategy and design to help clients tell stories through any means possible — a true creative shop.
We Have Become Vikings moves across all media channels that best serve design problems and creates culture through innovation and work — we combine ideation with design thinking to create a unique amazement and wonder that exceeds expectations.
We work hard and play hard, and want to make kick ass work to further our never ending passion for art, music and design. We Have Become Vikings has lent its visual expertise to several Fortune 100companies and some of the world’s most popular brands including Amazon, F1 Racing, Third Man Records and Virgin America as well as, small businesses in our neighborhood, Spun Bicycles, Lumenocity, Artworks, Charley Harper Studios and Instrument Skateboards to name a few.