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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 ...


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 ...