EZZARD CHARLES never weighed more than 200 pounds, but he was an outstanding heavyweight champion. Charles won the 1939 AAU National middleweight title before turning pro in 1940.
Many of Charles' early fights were against the world's top middleweight and light heavyweights. He defeated the likes Teddy Yarosz, Charley Burley and Joey Maxim and drew with Ken Overlin.
After military service during World War II, Charles defeated Hall of Famer Archie Moore and avenged losses to Lloyd Marshall and Jimmy Bivins to earn a No. 2 ranking at light heavyweight in 1946. He fought five light heavyweight champions, beating four of them, but never challenged for the light heavyweight crown.
Charles finally won the vacant NBA heavyweight title by defeating Jersey Joe Walcott in 1949. He earned worldwide recognition as heavyweight king the next year by decisioning an aged Joe Louis. After three successful defenses of the undisputed crown, he lost the title in a third battle with Walcott.
After Walcott lost to Rocky Marciano, Charles challenged the Rock in two unforgettable fights. The first time Marciano retained the title on a close decision and, two months later, stopped Charles in the eighth round of a fight that was nearly stopped because Marciano's nose was split open.
Born: July 7, 1921
Died: May 27, 1975