boxer, civil rights activist. Perhaps one of the most recognized people in the world, Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa (Grady) Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named in honor of his father and the white Kentucky abolitionist Cassius M. Clay. Clay attended the all-black Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, graduating 376th out of a senior class of 391. Ali has been married four times: to Sonji Roi, Kalilah Tolona (formerly Belinda Boyd), Veronica Porsche, and Yolanda Ali. He has been married to Yolanda since 1986, and has seven daughters and two sons, including Laila Ali, a boxer in her own right.
professional boxer, actor, product spokesperson, and minister. George Edward Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, to J. D. Foreman and Nancy Foreman. By the seventh grade he had dropped out of school, engaging in petty crimes, such as muggings. At age sixteen he enrolled in a Job Corps training program in Oregon. While working at a conservation camp affiliated with the program, Foreman found that he had a talent for boxing, and he won the Corps Diamond Belt Boxing Tournament.
In 1968 Foreman made the U.S. Olympic boxing team and won the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Mexico City. Vietnam War protests, the rise of black nationalism, and episodes of civil unrest in U.S. cities after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination earlier in the year were a sign of the times. The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City were also the scene ...
professional boxer, entrepreneur, boxing promoter. Born in North Carolina, Ray Charles Leonard grew up in Palmer Park, Maryland. At the age of fourteen he started boxing. As an amateur, he won 145 of 150 matches. In 1975 he won a gold medal in the Pan American Games. He would then win a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada.
In the midst of labor unrest that year, resulting in strikes in the automotive, newspaper and magazine publishing, and brewing industries, the United States looked to the bicentennial celebrations and American success in the Olympics as much-needed sources of pride. Leonard's outgoing personality and skills made him popular in the media that summer. Leonard turned professional in February 1977. Angelo Dundee, who trained Muhammad Ali, would serve as his trainer. On 11 November 1979, Leonard fought and knocked out Wilfred Benitez ...
Born in Waco, North Carolina, Floyd Patterson moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York, as a young boy. He experienced a difficult childhood, and was sent to the Wiltwyck School, where he learned Boxing. When he returned to New York City, he entered Golden Gloves competitions, winning national titles in 1951 and 1952 as a middleweight. At the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, he won all of his fights and the gold medal. After the games, he turned professional.
In his first thirty-six professional fights Patterson lost only once, and in 1956 he beat Archie Moore for the heavyweight title. Patterson became the youngest heavyweight champion and the first Olympic gold medalist to hold the title. He made four successful title defenses before losing to Sweden's Ingemar Johansson in 1959 Johansson knocked Patterson down seven times before the fight was stopped A year later ...
two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, was born into poverty near Waco, North Carolina, the third of eleven children born to Thomas Patterson, a laborer for the Seaboard Railway and later a sanitation worker and truck helper at a fish market, and Anna Belle Patterson a maid and bottling plant worker Shortly after his first birthday Patterson s family moved to the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn New York where they lived in a series of cold water four room railroad flats As a boy Patterson felt that he was a burden to his family and he would often leave the apartment for days at a time stealing fruit and milk to feed himself and sleeping in the basement of his elementary school or in subway stations Patterson s truancy and his family s constant moving led him in and out of several public schools Following a ...
Olympic champion boxer, was born in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, to Hays Sanders, a municipal garbage worker, and Eva Sanders, a homemaker. Sanders, the oldest male child of the family, was mature and physically strong, even at an early age. He and his friends exercised vigorously as children, collecting coffee cans and then filling them with cement and connecting them to steel bars to make weight sets. As Sanders grew during his teen years, he continued working on his strength and speed, becoming a star athlete in football (he played wide receiver) and track and field (specializing in the four-hundred-meter run) at Jordan High School in Watts.
After high school Sanders attended a nearby junior college in Compton California At Compton Junior College he continued to excel in football as both a wide receiver and end With the urging of a local coach he ...
Jason Philip Miller
boxer, was born in the rough-and-tumble Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, to Leon and Kay Spinks. He was the oldest of seven children. It was not an easy upbringing. Violence in Spinks's neighborhood was endemic and after being mugged and bullied, he was given the nickname “Mess Over,” in reference to the opinion that he was an easy target. Home was little better. His father, an absentee who finally vanished when Spinks was ten, was often physically abusive to his children, once hanging Spinks from a nail and beating him. Spinks's mother taught Bible classes out of the family home. When he was fourteen Leon developed an interest in boxing—in no small part as a means of self-defense—and, along with his brother Michael, became a frequenter of the local gym.
Spinks dropped out of school in the tenth grade and joined the U S Marines with ...
Michael L. Krenn
boxer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, one of seven children born to Kay Spinks, an ordained minister, and a father of whom little is known. Michael's father was reportedly abusive, although elder brother Leon bore the brunt of his father's often brutal behavior. Spinks's doting mother barely kept the family together through welfare subsidies and teaching Bible school after her husband left the family in 1965.
Like Leon, Michael Spinks used his fists to fight his way out of his poor neighborhood in St. Louis. The tall and deceptively lanky Spinks fought as a middleweight in the amateur ranks, eventually amassing an impressive record of ninety-three wins and only seven losses, with a third of those victories coming through knockout. In 1975 he lost a close decision for the National Amateur Athletic Union AAU Middleweight Championship but the next year he won both the ...