East Coast collector buys Portland's 'Gold Giant'

East Coast collector buys Portland's 'Gold Giant' »Play Video
Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com.

PORTLAND, Ore. - First it was the 24 Hour Church of Elvis and now it's The Giant - one by one some of the original icons that have made Portland 'weird' are disappearing.

The Giant is a 20-foot tall, muscle-bound statue that for decades has watched over the folks working out at Hollywood Fitness (formerly Giant's Gym) at Northeast 52nd and Sandy Boulevard.

"It originally came from Zuver's world-famous gym in Costa Mesa, California," George Comalli, owner of Hollywood Fitness, told us. "The gym was famous for large sculptures, the world's heaviest barbells and dumbbells and all kinds of oddities."

For more on Zuver's gym

When Zuver's went out of business, those oddities went up for sale and The Giant (back then he was known as Zuverman), ended up in Portland.

The Giant has been here ever since but now he's about to be shipped off to his new home in Pennsylvania. A collector with an interest in the old Zuver's gym memorabilia purchased the statue for an undisclosed price and has plans to restore it to its original state before putting it on display outside.

"The Giant has been inside all this time and really not displayed well," said Comalli. "I want to see him restored and I want to see him outside. And I want people to know the history of Zuver's Gym as well and I'm quite glad about that. But I will miss him."

The Giant will be moved out of Hollywood Fitness on Friday and it won't be an easy task. He's big, awkward and weighs about 2,000 pounds.

"I'll have to use a come-along and some ropes to lower him down," Comalli said. "Literally, we'll probably have 10 or 12 guys carry him out the garage door."

And then once the statue is out the door, there's just one little problem.

"The person picking him up is renting a truck that is seven and a half feet wide," Comalli said. "The Giant is nine feet from elbow to elbow. Therefore, he's going to have to cut off an arm. I'm afraid to say it's going to break my heart - my wife can't even come to see it," he said with a laugh.

Comalli was initially planning a moving party on Friday but the purchaser changed the pickup date and that's now been changed to Saturday at 1 p.m.

Comalli is inviting the community to come on down to give The Giant one last goodbye. He'll be telling stories and offering refreshments while the statue is loaded up for its cross-country journey.

"I think we're all going to miss him," he said. "The ongoing joke was who would win a fight between The Giant and Paul Bunyan. We figured our guy was stronger, but Paul Bunyan has an axe."