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Olivia Perlow

the son of Cherie Davis and Reginald Shuck. As a single mother raising her only child in the Chicago South Side Hyde Park neighborhood, Cherie Davis sought to provide Shani with a wealth of opportunities. She introduced him to roller skating at the age of two, and by four years old he was skating so fast that the rink monitors often had to slow him down. At age six it was suggested to his mother that Shani try speed skating. Since there were no ice skating rinks on the South Side of Chicago, they had to travel to the northern suburbs twice a week to practice with the Evanston Speed Skating Club, a majority-black club with a black coach, uniquely positioned within a virtually all-white sport.

At the age of six Davis began competing locally and by the age of eight he was winning regional competitions Although he would sometimes ...