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Luckett V. Davis

boxer, was born Henry Jackson Jr. near Columbus, Mississippi, the son of Henry Jackson. His mother, whose name is unknown, was a full‐blooded Iroquois, and his father was of mixed Indian, Irish, and black ancestry. He was the eleventh child in a family of sharecroppers. When he was four years old his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where his father and older brothers worked in the food‐processing industry. His mother died a few years later, after which he was reared by his paternal grandmother. Jackson graduated from Toussaint L'Ouverture Grammar School and Vashon High School, working during his school years as a pin boy at a bowling alley and becoming the inter‐alley bowling champion in midtown St. Louis. He gained his first boxing experience by winning a competition among the pin boys.

Lacking funds to attend college, Jackson worked at a series of unskilled jobs At the ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Little is known about his early life or his parents, except that the family lived on the brink of poverty.

Brown worked a number of different jobs—carpentry among them—before beginning his boxing career in 1943 in New Orleans, winning a four-round decision. Almost immediately, however, his participation in the professional sport was cut short when he was drafted to fight in World War II. Brown spent nearly two years in the U.S. Navy—most of it in the Pacific Theater—during which time he continued to box, finally winning the All-Service Lightweight Championship before his discharge in 1945. Following his return to civilian life, in 1946 Brown threw himself back into professional prizefighting averaging from seven to twelve fights a year sometimes with only a week s rest between bouts Despite his enthusiasm and seemingly limitless energy his career did not get off ...

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James S. Hirsch

boxer who was wrongfully convicted of triple homicide in two racially charged trials, was born in Delawanna, New Jersey, the son of Bertha, a homemaker, and Lloyd Carter, an entrepreneur and church deacon who stressed to his seven children the importance of family pride and unity.

The Carters moved to nearby Paterson when Rubin was six years old, and the youngster soon developed a reputation for brawling, rebelling against authority, and committing petty crimes. At seventeen he escaped from Jamesburg State Home for Boys, where he had been sentenced for cutting a man with a bottle, and joined the army. As a member of the Eleventh Airborne, he was sent to Germany, where he learned to box and won the European Light Welterweight Championship.

Discharged from the army in 1956 Carter returned to Paterson but was soon in trouble again The following year he pled guilty to robbing ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer and former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of the world, was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the son of William and Alberta Charles. His father was a truck driver; little is known about his mother. According to Charles, his unusual first name came from the doctor who delivered him, W. P. Ezzard. His early life before his boxing career is somewhat vague. What is known is that at about the age of nine, he moved from Georgia to live with his grandmother and great-grandmother in Cincinnati, Ohio, following the divorce of his parents.

He took up amateur boxing as a teenager, and while still in high school won the Amateur Athletic Union's national middleweight title. In 1940 just nineteen years old Charles turned professional and over the next three years fought thirty six times with thirty four wins one loss and one draw Charles did not shy ...

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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 ...

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Jeremy Rich

He was said to have had a very abusive father, although it is difficult to ascertain any clear information about his early life. Dhlamini attended a Catholic mission primary school for several years, before leaving his father’s farm in 1935 to make a living in the city of Durban. Dhlamini worked briefly as a gardener, but then headed for the larger city of Johannesburg. It was there that he developed a reputation for his athleticism. He originally had joined a Durban soccer team that had traveled to play in Johannesburg, but decided to stay.

Dhlamini soon became a feared figure in Johannesburg s notorious underworld of criminal gangs Many stories purport to tell the tale of how he became a boxer In one account he supposedly laughed when he first entered a boxing gym because the fighters were wearing cushions gloves rather than sparring bare handed He then mocked the ...

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George Dixon was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, but was brought by his parents to Boston when he was eight years old. There he attended school and, in 1884, began working for Elmer Chickering, a photographer who specialized in making portraits of boxers. While working on a job assignment Dixon saw boxing matches at the Boston Music Hall and decided to pursue a boxing career. After a few amateur bouts he attracted the attention of Tom O'Rourke, a former boxer himself, who taught Dixon and managed him throughout most of his career.

Dixon became a serious professional boxer in 1888 and by the end of the year he was well known in the Boston area through a thrilling series of fights with a local hero Hank Brennan Weighing less than 100 pounds Dixon proved to be an extremely clever boxer good at defense and capable ...

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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

Anene Ejikeme

was born Amadou M’barick Fall, but was also known as Louis Fall. Best known as “Battling Siki,” he took the world light heavyweight boxing title in September 1922, becoming the first African ever to win a world boxing championship title. Just three years and three months later, Siki, aged twenty-eight, was found dead, lying facedown in a New York City street, with two gunshot wounds in the back.

Siki was born in Saint Louis one of Senegal s four communes Little is known of Siki s early life but what is certain is that Siki left Senegal for Europe in his youth although it is not known at what age There he took the name Louis although that may already have been one of his names as European names were not uncommon among Africans born in Senegal s communes Louis M barick and Amadou may each or all have ...

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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 ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Little is known of Foster's life before he began boxing. Foster himself admitted that he got into numerous fights as a child and a high school student and was once taken to court for fracturing the skull of another young man with one punch. With few options open to him and a close scrape with the law motivating him, Foster signed up for the U.S. Air Force in 1957, shortly after graduating from high school.

Foster's tremendous punching power soon became evident to his air force commanders during informal inter- and intra-unit boxing matches, and they put him on the service's boxing team. For four years Foster traveled with the team all over the United States and the world. He engaged in well over one hundred fights, losing only three. In 1960 he won the light heavyweight title at the ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world, was born Joseph Frazier in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Rubin Frazier and Dolly. His father was a sharecropper who supplemented the family's income by making and delivering moonshine liquor. His mother worked a series of jobs in the fields around Beaufort and in some of the small food processing plants.

Frazier's childhood was marked by poverty, hard work, and a growing fascination with boxing. His early hero was Joe Louis and he spent his teenage years dreaming of becoming a successful and wealthy boxer He had little interest in school and by age thirteen had officially dropped out At the age of fifteen after a run in with a local white landowner Frazier decided that his future was not in Beaufort and took a bus to New York where he lived with one of his brothers for ...

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David Borsvold

boxing trainer who guided twenty-two fighters to championships, was born in Hillsboro, Mississippi, where his father was a sharecropper. His family moved to Detroit while Futch was still a child, and while growing up in the tough Black Bottom neighborhood he became a proficient athlete in boxing and basketball. In 1932 Futch won the lightweight boxing championship of the Detroit Athletic Association, and in 1933 he became the Detroit Golden Gloves lightweight champion. The five foot, seven inch tall, 135 pound fighter became friendly with the Motor City's future heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, then still an amateur, at the gym in the Brewster Recreation Center. Louis often sparred with the quicker Futch to improve his own speed and reflexes.

On the brink of his own professional career Futch was forced to quit boxing because of a heart murmur He began teaching boys to box enforcing a strict code ...

Article

Steven A. Riess

Joe Gans was born Joseph Gans in Baltimore, Maryland. He reputedly was the son of an African American baseball player, Joseph Butts. His mother's name is unknown. He was adopted at age four by Maria Gant and her husband. It is not known why he altered his name from Gant to Gans or if in fact previously printed sources had misspelled his adopted mother's surname. Gans began fighting in 1890 in battle royales, brawls in which several African Americans fought each other for money, with the last one standing declared the winner. These free-for-alls taught him to block, dodge, and lead with his punches. His first real fight was for a $2 side bet; in addition, he collected $5.40 in change from the crowd.

A fishmarket clerk, the 5′ 6″′ Gans turned professional in 1891 fighting almost exclusively in Baltimore at 133 pounds He won all of ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

boxer. Joe Gans was born Joseph Gaines in Baltimore, Maryland. As with so many African American boxers of that time, relatively little is known about his early life, his schooling, or the names and occupations of his parents.

Gans was discovered by the Baltimore boxing manager Al Herford while participating in what was known as a “battle royal” at a local theater. This cruel form of sport involved throwing several young black men into a boxing ring to fight it out until only one was left standing. In 1891 Gans entered the ranks of professional boxing as a lightweight. During the 1890s Gans was virtually unbeatable, suffering just three defeats in more than seventy fights. In 1900 he got his first shot at the lightweight title against the white champion Frank Erne At Gans s request the fight was stopped in the twelfth round after Gans suffered severe ...

Article

Robert Janis

professional boxer and trainer, was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and moved to New York with his family, which included seven siblings, when he was thirteen years old. His father had abandoned the family prior to their move to New York and his mother had to leave the family to take a cooking job for the governor of Puerto Rico. His brothers and sisters were scattered to the homes of their mother's relatives and friends. Griffith was given to his Aunt Blanche. He hated living there and begged to go to Mandal, St. Thomas's home for wayward and orphaned boys where he was finally placed. As the oldest child he helped to reunite the family for its move to New York.

Once in New York his first job was working in a hat factory when he was sixteen years old He caught the eye of the ...

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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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David Borsvold

world heavyweight boxing champion, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, the fourth of twelve children of John Henry Holmes, a sharecropper, and Flossie Holmes. Shortly after the family moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1956, his father left for another woman and the children were raised on welfare by their mother. To bring in money, Larry would go to grade school and then shine shoes until ten o'clock at night. The family struggled in poverty but held together.

Holmes was good at sports from an early age At age ten began boxing in Police Athletic League fights displaying endurance and strength but little skill In seventh grade he excelled at football but after an altercation with a teacher who disliked him and an ultimatum from the school Holmes dropped out and went to work in a car wash He had frequent street brawls and brushes with the law ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Amaigbo, Nigeria. There is little information on either his mother or father, although it is known that Ihetu spent his early years working on his father's farm in rural Nigeria. Both to escape the drudgery of agricultural work and to earn extra money, the young Ihetu was soon engaged in street fights in the local market village. His determination and power eventually brought him to the attention of British soldiers stationed nearby. By 1952 they had taken the young man under their wings and were providing him with more substantial training in the art of boxing. He turned professional that same year.

From 1952 through 1954 Ihetu (now fighting under the more colorful name of “Dick Tiger”) fought exclusively in Nigeria. He rattled off ten straight victories but then met his match in Tommy West whom he fought for the Nigerian Middleweight Championship in ...

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Michael L. Krenn

lightweight boxing champion, was born Sydney Walker in Waynesboro, Georgia. Little is known about his parents because shortly after his birth he was sent to live with and be raised by his grandmother, Evie Mixom, in Augusta, Georgia. It was from his grandmother that he acquired the nickname “Beau Jack,” a moniker that stuck with him for the rest of his life.

As a young boy in Augusta Jack worked a variety of small jobs including shining shoes He quickly discovered another way of supplementing his household s meager income entering the rough and tumble world of battle royals These sporting contests were organized by well to do local whites for their entertainment A group of African American men and often boys ranging from half a dozen to ten or more would be thrown into a roughshod boxing ring and made to fight until the last man was ...