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SaFiya D. Hoskins

music pioneer, musician, and singer, was born Charles L. Brown in Charlotte, North Carolina; his parents were migrant farmers about whom little information is available. In 1942Chuck moved with his parents to Fairmont Heights in Prince George's County, Maryland, a small suburban neighborhood just outside of Northeast Washington, D.C. As a boy Chuck worked odd jobs to assist his parents financially. He sold newspapers, cut logs, shined shoes, laid bricks, and could be heard singing “watermelon, watermelon” for the horse-drawn watermelon cart. Chuck's love for music began as a boy in North Carolina, replaying the piano and rhythms he heard in church of the bass drum, cymbals, and the snare over and again in his head. In Fairmont Heights at Mount Zion Holiness Church he played piano while his mother accompanied him on harmonica. Chuck studied piano with Sister Louise Murray who exposed him to ...

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

Michael L. Krenn

boxer and businessman, was born George Edward Foreman in Marshall, Texas, the son of J. D. Foreman and Nancy Ree. His father, a railroad employee and a heavy drinker, was absent for much of George's childhood. His mother worked several jobs, including as a waitress, to support George and his six siblings.

As Foreman describes it his childhood was marked by intense want and hunger and an anger that often exploded into fighting Even at a young age he was larger than normal and he used his intimidating size to bully his peers He had little love for school although football in junior high school proved attractive for its violence and aggression Foreman did not last long in high school however By the age of fifteen he was spending most of his time on the streets of Houston where his mother had moved the family when he was ...

Article

Patrick Stearns

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 ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Marvin Hagler, the eldest of seven children, was born in Newark, New Jersey. Boxing as an amateur, he won 57 bouts, winning the Amateur Athletic Union middleweight title in 1973. At 5 ft 9 ½ in (176 cm) tall, Hagler was a powerful 160-lb (70-kg) left-hander. He turned professional in 1973, winning his first 26 fights by knockout. He legally changed his name to Marvelous Marvin Hagler so that he could be announced that way in the ring. He defeated Alan Minter in 1980 to become middleweight champion of the world. Hagler defended this title 12 times before he was defeated by Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987. He retired in June 1988. He later moved to Italy, where he enjoyed a second career as an action movie star.

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Ida Mae Hagler and Robert Sims. Most of his youth, however, was spent in Brockton, Massachusetts, where his mother and father moved with Marvin and his five siblings just a few years after Marvin's birth. Sims left the family when Marvin was a child. Like so many young men who turn to boxing, Hagler had found little to interest him in school. He dropped out during his first year in high school to pursue amateur fighting. The home of the former undefeated heavyweight king Rocky Marciano, Brockton had a history of producing champions. Hagler became acquainted with the Petronelli brothers, Goody, who served as his trainer, and Pat, who became his manager for most of his career.

Just shy of sixty amateur fights to his credit Hagler quickly established himself as one of the best amateur ...

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Canada Lee was born in New York City. Originally a boxer, Canada Lee entered the theater after a fight in 1933 left him blind in one eye. He began his acting career in the role of Banquo in a black production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Negro Federal Theatre Project, in 1936. The play was directed by Orson Welles and marked the beginning of Lee's portrayal of nontraditional roles, at a time when most black actors and actresses were relegated to demeaning roles.

Although Macbeth received some negative reviews (due more to the fact that a black cast was performing Shakespeare than to the quality of the acting), it gave Lee the needed exposure to continue in such roles. Through the WPA Negro Federal Theatre Project, he continued to experiment with the nontraditional, performing in Eugene O'Neill's One Act Plays ...

Article

Christopher Caines

actor, bandleader, and boxer, was born Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata in New York City, the son of James Cornelius Canegata, a clerk, and Lydia Whaley. Lee's father came from a wealthy and politically prominent family in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, whose ancestors had adopted a Danish surname. Lee's grandfather owned a fleet of merchant ships; the family also raced horses. James Canegata shipped out as a cabin boy at eighteen, settled in Manhattan, married, and worked for National Fuel and Gas for thirty-one years. Lee grew up in the San Juan Hill section of Manhattan's West Sixties and attended P.S. 5 in Harlem. An indifferent student, he devoted more energy to fisticuffs than to schoolwork. Lee studied violin from age seven with the composer J. Rosamond Johnson and at age eleven he was favorably reviewed at a student concert in Aeolian Hall his parents ...

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

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 ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

boxer and actor, was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His parents' names are unknown, and little is known about Wallace's early life. He first found work as a baggage handler for a railroad in Florida. At the suggestion of some of his friends who noted Wallace's size and strength, he left his home state in his late teens for New York City, where he hoped to establish himself as a heavyweight boxer.

Wallace progressed quickly as an amateur and entered the 1948 Golden Gloves tournament with an undefeated record. It was during this tournament that Wallace had his most famous fight. In the first round, he was matched against the winner of the New England Golden Gloves tourney, a rough and crude fighter named Rocky Marciano. Had Marciano not gone on to become the only undefeated heavyweight champion in the history of boxing the fight might have been ...