On the bronzing of sports legends — and goats

The graceful touch of Leigh Montville is now featured on the newly launched Sports on Earth, and his latest subject is the new bronze figure of Rocky Marciano in his hometown of Brockton, Mass.

Not only is it reportedly the tallest statue in the world — 22-1/2 feet — it reflects the best traditions of honoring sports heroes where they lived, competed and died:

“The civic statue has become the true Hall of Fame. The best are enshrined in those Cooperstown places. Congratulations. The best of the best also stand on a street corner somewhere close to home, still able to watch the pretty girls pass on summer afternoons.”

The most talked-about sports statue this week — of French soccer star Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt of Marco Materazzi of Italy in the 2006 World Cup finals — has more infamous but equally celebrated connotations.

The 16-foot bust by Adel Abdessemed of Algeria — where Zidane’s family comes from — is now displayed outside the Pompidou Centre, a modernist museum in Paris. The sculpture is part of an Abdessemed exhibit through January.

As exhibit organizer Alain Michaud has said:

“This statue goes against the tradition of making statues in honour of certain victories. It is an ode to defeat.”

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