Belks Donate Large Ram Statue to Stadium

Standing guard at Kenan Stadium is the newest challenger to Rameses' reign as UNC's mascot.

This one-ton sculpture of a ram seeks to bring the University to new heights as the largest sculpture of a ram in the world.

The 2,000-pound bronze ram was dedicated to the University by members of the Belk family -- alumni of UNC -- on Monday.

Statue donors include Irwin Belk, class of 1945; William Irwin Belk, class of 1971; Marilyn Belk Wallis, class of 1975; Carl G. Belk, class of 1982; and Anne Reynolds Belk, class of 1985.

The Belk family contracted Swedish sculptor Kent Ullberg, whom Irwin Belk called "the most famous wildlife sculptor in the world," to construct the statue out of bronze, a durable material.

"You come back in 2,000 years, and it'll still be here," Irwin Belk said.

Family members declined to comment on the cost of the statue.

The dedication consisted of short speeches made by John Montgomery, head of the Educational Foundation, and Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. who gave thanks to the Belk family for its donation.

"We're going to ride that ram to some more victories," Baddour said.

Others representing the University included Moyer Smith, former head of the Educational Foundation, and head football coach John Bunting. Baddour presented a plaque commemorating the donation to Irwin Belk and his son Carl Belk, the only representatives of the Belk family present, after which Irwin Belk gave a short speech.

"We're Tar Heels, and we love Tar Heels ... and this ram here overlooks all of North Carolina," Irwin Belk said. "Every day I thank the Lord up in heaven for letting me be born in North Carolina."

When the black plastic tarp covering the statue finally was removed, the small gathering enthusiastically welcomed the ram.

"That is a proud-looking animal; hopefully, it's sort of inspiring," said Russ Barnes, UNC alumnus and friend of the Belk family. "When they get all this (construction) cleared out here, when ... the students and football players come down here from Tar Heel Town, it's going to be fired up -- a sense of pride."

The statue, which now faces bulldozers and construction workers, will soon greet players, fans and challengers as they approach the stadium's main gates. "As you enter, he's looking at you right in the face, head high, proud, challenging," Ullberg said.

Irwin Belk has dedicated a number of statues to universities all over the country, including a bull to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, Carl Belk said. He said, "(Irwin Belk has) done probably at least 20 (statues), but he feels this is his favorite because he went to school here."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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