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Angela Black

business owner and entertainment promoter, was born in Danville, Virginia, to Claude Carlton and Marion Baskerville, about whom little is known. Ruth attended the Westmoreland Elementary School and Langston High School in Danville. Ruth's family moved to New York City when she was a teenager, and she graduated from Girls High School in Brooklyn. After attending New York University for two years, she met and fell in love with Wallace “Billy” Bowen, a member of the popular Ink Spots, one of the few entertainment groups in the 1940s and 1950s to break the race barrier and perform for white audiences across the United States. Bowen left school and she and Billy were married until his death in 1982.

Bowen managed the daily office responsibilities of her husband s business She also traveled the United States with the Ink Spots during their concert tours During the 1940s the Bowens ...

Article

Donna L. Halper

radio personality and advertising executive, was most likely the first black announcer in the history of broadcasting, on the air as early as 1924. His successful radio career would span four decades and make him a wealthy man. Cooper did not come from an entertainment background. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he was one of ten children of William and Lavina Cooper. Jack Cooper quit school after the fifth grade to help support his impoverished family. He held a number of low-paying jobs and for a time got interested in boxing, winning more than a hundred bouts as a welterweight fighter. But he found his calling on the vaudeville stage, where he became a singer and dancer, beginning in 1905 and continuing well into the 1920s. He was more than just a performer, writing and producing skits and entire shows, often in collaboration with his first wife Estelle ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Boxer and ex‐slave from Tennessee, United States, who made a number of trips to England to fight. Dobbs was born into slavery in Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked cotton until he was 15. A slight man, standing 5 feet 8½ inches and weighing just 9 stone 9 pounds, he trained as a lightweight and welterweight. During his illustrious career he fought over 1,000 matches, not retiring until he was 60. In 1898 he made his first trip to England, where, in an infamous fight with Dick Burge he was offered a bribe by a bookmaker of £100 a huge sum in those days to lose the fight He agreed to the deal and was provided with laxatives before the match but switched with a friend who bore some resemblance to him and who was willing to take the medication Dobbs won the match On the same trip he knocked out ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

boxing promoter, was born Donald King in Cleveland, Ohio, the fifth of seven children of Clarence King, a steelworker, and Hattie King. When Donald was nine years old, his father was killed in an explosion at the steel plant where he worked. His mother baked pies and roasted peanuts to supplement the family's meager income. Donald and his siblings assisted their mother by, among other things, inserting slips of paper with “lucky numbers” into each bag of peanuts like fortune cookies. Thus began his introduction as a minor player in the numbers racket, which operated in many impoverished neighborhoods as a quasi-legitimate part of the underground black economy. After class at Lafayette Elementary School, Donald also delivered live poultry to be slaughtered at Hymie's Chicken Shack.As a student athlete at John Adams High School Donald standing six feet three inches had a brief and unimpressive career ...

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Roanne Edwards

Don King has emerged as the most powerful and controversial figure in American Boxing. By the late 1970s he had come to dominate the boxing industry—traditionally controlled by white brokers—and since then has raised millions of dollars for such prizefighters as Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Mike Tyson. A flamboyant public figure, King's visibility has extended far beyond the field of boxing, and some commentators have likened him to the infamous gangster Al Capone. As Sports Illustrated noted in 1997, “King, who has beaten tax evasion charges and countless allegations of contract fraud over the years, is nothing if not resourceful.”

The fifth of seven children born to Clarence and Hattie King Don King was born reared and educated in Cleveland Ohio After his father a steelworker died in a workplace explosion King s mother moved the family to ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

boxing promoter. Donald King was born to Clarence King, a steelworker, and Hattie King, in Cleveland, Ohio. Don King's father died in 1941 in a steel foundry explosion. In spite of his father's premature death, or perhaps because of it, King sought a life for himself beyond the poor neighborhood in which he grew up. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and in order to pay for his education at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University), he worked as a numbers runner for local illegal gamblers, transporting illegal betting slips to various bookies in the Cleveland area. Before long, King rose to become one of the city's leading bookmakers. He made more than enough to pay for college, but he quit school after one year to focus on a career in gambling.

King had many run ins with the law in his teens and early ...

Article

boxing promoter, was one of five children of John L. Lewis, a car salesman. Born in Woodbury, New Jersey, Lewis split time between there and a North Philadelphia housing project, and was raised partially by his maternal grandmother, Margaret Brison Corsey, until he was seventeen. After graduating from high school, Lewis hustled jewelry and played poker for money; he also worked menial jobs at the Scott Paper Company and General Motors. Though he had worked part‐time for his father before, Lewis initially balked at becoming a full‐time employee; but with a new wife, he started back at his father's used car dealership outside Chester, Pennsylvania

Lewis's entry to the boxing world came through his father, who, in 1965, helped form Cloverlay Inc., the management company that backed the Philadelphia heavyweight, Joe Frazier; the younger Lewis soon became a sometime road companion for Frazier. In 1975 a ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐American boxer who gained a significant reputation in England. Molineaux was born in Virginia and was the slave to a wealthy playboy who frequently used him in fights against other slaves. In one particular event Molineaux's master bet $100,000 that he would defeat another slave in a match and promised to grant him his freedom should he win. Molineaux won and left for England in 1803, where he met and subsequently trained under Bill Richmond, another African‐American boxer of consequence. Molineaux's first match in England was against Tom Blake, whom he knocked out in the eighth round. Richmond prepared Molineaux for his important fight against Tom Cribb, an opponent whom Richmond had never managed to defeat. In December 1810 the match between Cribb and Molineaux took place at Copthorne near East Grinstead and after 39 rounds Molineaux lost The fight was an especially trying one ...

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Al-Tony Gilmore

Tom Molineaux was born a slave, probably in Georgetown, District of Columbia, on March 23, 1784. Molineaux was the name of the slave-owner family that owned Tom, his parents, and his four brothers. Strongly influenced by his father, Zachary, who is credited as the founder of boxing in the United States, Tom took up the sport at an early age. After his father died, fourteen-year-old Tom took his place as chief handyman around his master's estate. Several years later, his owner promised him the sum of $100 and his freedom if he were successful in defeating the slave of a neighboring planter in a boxing match. Intent on winning his freedom, Molineaux accepted the match and won.

With the prize money and his newly gained freedom Molineaux headed for London England where he had been told fame and fortune were to be won in boxing Arriving in London at ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

The birthplace of Tom Molineaux (Molyneaux) is variously reported as Virginia; Staten Island, New York; and Baltimore, Maryland. Little is known about his early life except for reports that he worked on the docks in New York City. During that time he must have learned the skills of a boxer. In 1810 Molineaux appeared in London, where he met Bill Richmond, a legendary African American boxer and manager who operated the Horse and Dolphin Tavern on Saint Martin's Lane. The tavern was a well-known hangout where boxers and the “fancy,” as English fans were known, watched boxing exhibitions. Richmond, who was well connected to wealthy patrons, was impressed by Molineaux's methods and publicized his talents so well that, after two warm-up matches, one after a bullbaiting and the other against an aged boxer, Tom Black, Molineaux was set to battle the champion, Tom Cribb.

The two ...

Article

Dennis Brailsford

pugilist, first appeared on the London boxing scene in 1809. All that is known of his earlier life is that he was a freed slave, probably from Baltimore. He had come to Great Britain by way of working on the New York docks. No evidence supports the fanciful claims of the journalist Pierce Egan that he was descended from a warlike hero who had been the all-conquering pugilist of America.

Molyneaux appeared at Bill Richmond s Horse and Dolphin tavern in St Martin s Lane The tavern next door to the Fives Court where sparring exhibitions took place was a natural magnet for a big tough aspiring fighter Richmond himself an African American was well established in the ring and had a high reputation among wealthy backers He was so impressed by the newcomer that he set about promoting him with such success that after only two ...

Article

professional boxer and actor, was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, to George Florence, a World War II veteran, and Ruth Norton, an activities director at a hospital, who would later marry John Norton a fireman and police dispatcher From an early age Norton excelled in sports which he claimed protected him from much of the racism that pervaded his hometown In high school Norton became a star in football baseball and track and field Although gifted intellectually Norton did only the work required of him and as a result did not do well in school However his athletic achievements led to scholarship offers from over ninety institutions Fearful of venturing too far from home Norton accepted a football scholarship from Northeast Missouri State University later Truman State University a teacher s college where he played basketball and football During his sophomore year Norton got into an argument ...

Article

Shivani Sivagurunathan

Blackboxer who fought and lived in Britain. Perry was born in Annapolis, Nova Scotia. He initially served on a British man‐of‐war for four years and, after being discharged, turned to a career in boxing. His time on the man‐of‐war earned him the nickname John ‘the Black Sailor’ Perry. He arrived in London in 1845 after walking from Birmingham, having hoped to find a patron for his prizefighting along his journey. In London he met Johnny Broome, a former British lightweight champion. Broome trained Perry, and in the following year he faced his first professional opponent, Bill Burton Perry was an entertaining fighter not simply because he was physically impressive he was handsome 6 feet 1½ inches tall and weighed 212 pounds but also because he moved with skill and poise His style of milling was particularly striking where he would move around his opponent while balanced ...

Article

Michael Ezra

WBA heavyweight boxing champion, entertainer, and businessman, was born in Belzoni, Mississippi, one of ten children of Lovick Terrell, a metal dipper, and Annie Terrell. Terrell's family moved to Chicago in 1953. As a teenager, Terrell discovered the Midwest Gym, on the corner of Madison and Hamelin streets near Garfield Park, and became interested in watching big-name professional fighters—men like Rocky Marciano, Kid Gavilan, Sugar Ray Robinson—train. Observing great fighters sparked Terrell's desire to become a boxer, and while enrolled in Farragut High School, from which he would graduate in 1959, he began to enter amateur tournaments.

Terrell won the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament and later captured an intercity Golden Gloves championship. In 1957 while still in high school Terrell turned professional Also that year while organizing a talent show to celebrate his high school graduation Terrell purchased his ...