Welsh rugby league legends Billy Boston, Gus Risman and Clive Sullivan will be honoured with a monument in the Cardiff Bay area where they grew up.
The public were given a list of 13 former greats, all born in the old Tiger Bay area of Cardiff, to vote for.
It is hoped the artwork could be on permanent display in Cardiff Bay within the next two years.
"They will all be immortalised in their home city," Cardiff Bay Codebreakers chairman Sir Stan Thomas said.
The project was inspired by calls from the Butetown and wider Cardiff Bay communities for a fitting tribute to the players who did so much to improve race relations across Britain.
Boston and Sullivan won the Rugby League World Cup during their careers, and former Great Britain captain Risman scored more than 4,000 points across his 24-year playing career.
Sullivan was also the first black captain of any British international rugby team, as he led his side to World Cup glory in 1972.
The 13 players nominated were Billy Boston, Gerald Cordle, Dennis Brown, Joe Corsi, Colin Dixon, Roy Francis, Johnny Freeman, Gus Risman, Clive Sullivan, Jim Sullivan, Frank Whitcombe, William 'Wax' Williams and Dave Willicombe.
All the nominees grew up within a three-mile radius of Cardiff Bay and many battled prejudice and racism before leaving Wales to find fame as rugby stars in the north of England.
In total the shortlist included three World Cup winners, nine Great Britain internationals, 12 Welsh internationals, three Rugby League Hall of Famers and four members of the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame Roll of Honour.
A panel of seven experts, including the current captains of the Welsh men's and women's rugby league teams, Elliot Kear and Rafique Taylor, agreed unanimously with the public's top three.
"We feel the three that have been chosen for a statue will inspire the youngsters from their area well into the future," said Sir Stan Thomas.
"Having the three of them together on a statue is comparable to seeing Bleddyn Williams, Gareth Edwards and Alun Wyn Jones joining forces on a rugby union statue or John Charles, Ian Rush and Gareth Bale being linked in a football version."