Ezzard Charles (Ezzard Mack Charles)

Ezzard Charles

Ezzard Charles

Boxer Ezzard Charles was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia. When he was a child, his family moved to Cincinnati, where he became interested in boxing. By the time he was sixteen, he had taught himself the rudiments of boxing so well that he won fortytwo amateur fights in a row—including two Golden Gloves and the AAU National Championship in 1939—before turning professional in 1940. His ascending career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army, but after Joe Louis announced his retirement as undefeated world heavyweight champion in 1949, a title match was set up between Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott. Charles won the title in a fifteen-round decision on June 22, 1949. He held the title from 1949 to 1951, successfully defending it in 1950 against Joe Louis. Despite this victory, Charles did not receive the recognition many felt he deserved. He depended on his boxing skills and ability to score points rather than delivering one powerful knockout punch and thus was criticized by some for lacking a harsh fighting instinct.

Charles lost his heavyweight title on July 18, 1951, when he was knocked out by Joe Walcott in the seventh round of their third fight. Three years later, on June 17, 1954, he lost a grueling fifteen-round decision to Rocky Marciano, and in a rematch later that year Marciano knocked him out in the eighth round. Charles retired from boxing in 1956, with two brief, unsuccessful comeback attempts in 1958 and 1959. From 1940 to 1959 he fought in 122 bouts, winning 96 of them. In 1966 he was stricken with a muscle-debilitating disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was confined to a wheelchair. Charles died on May 28, 1975, at the age of fifty-three. In 1987 he was named the ninth greatest heavyweight of all time by The Ring.

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  • July, 07, 1921
  • Lawrenceville, Georgia


  • May, 28, 1975
  • Chicago, Illinois

Cause of Death

  • Lou Gehrig's Disease


  • Burr Oak Cemetery
  • Alsip Cook County Illinois

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