Downtown park renamed honoring Augusta native, world champion boxer
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A big name in the boxing ring. Now it’s the name of a downtown Augusta park. Friday city leaders renamed Hillside Park in honor of Augusta native and five-time world champion boxer Vernon Forrest.
“Vernon was a good man. He didn’t mind helping people. He would help other people before he would help himself,” said Mildred Forrest, Vernon’s mom.
Mildred was surrounded by family, friends, and city leaders as Hillside Park was renamed Vernon Forrest Park.
“I never thought this was going to happen. I never would have, but I’m glad and blessed it could happen, and I appreciate everyone that participated in it,” she said.
Vernon Forrest started boxing at the age of nine and was part of the U.S. Olympic team in 1992. He fought 45 fights with 41 wins during his professional career. He was also a champion outside the ring – a person who his family says always helped others.
“I always thought Vernon would live to see all the accolades and everything that was given to him and I never envisioned that we would be setting things in his name and he’s not here to do it, so my emotions are running high because of that,” said Alphonso Forrest Sr., Vernon’s brother.
Vernon died in 2009 from gunshot injuries after a robbery at an Atlanta gas station. His memory lives on through friends and family and now at this park.
“A park symbolizes peace where you can come and relax, bring your children, have a cookout, and let the kids play on the playground and let them run and scream as loud as they want to,” he said.
Discussion of the name dedication was led by former Commissioner Bill Fennoy followed by Commissioner Jordan Johnson. Earlier this year Augusta commission voted unanimously to approve the change.
“The vision was to make sure that we had an opportunity to honor someone who literally gave his life giving back to his community through boxing and childcare and we just wanted to say thank you,” said Commissioner Johnson.
Vernon Forrest Park is on Telfair Street. Commissioner Johnson says this is the first step in honoring his legacy with other plans in the works.
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