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Carter, Rubin “Hurricane” (6 May 1937–20 Apr. 2014), a boxer unjustly incarcerated for murder and later an activist on behalf of the wrongfully accused, was the fourth of six children born to Bertha and Lloyd Carter, Sr. in Delawanna, a suburban section of Clifton, a town in northern New Jersey. Lloyd Carter worked in a factory and had an ice delivery business. Both parents were devout Christians. As a boy Carter had a severe stutter. Consequently, he was ridiculed by his peers, but he learned to stand up for himself with his fists....

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Gonzales, Rodolfo “Corky” (18 June 1928–12 Apr. 2005), boxer, activist, and poet, was born in Denver, Colorado, to Federico and Indalesia Gonzales, the youngest of eight children. Gonzales’s nickname came from his uncle, who would chide the young Rodolfo for “always popping off like a cork” every time the boy was involved in an altercation. The name stuck and would come to reflect Gonzales’s life as a social activist....

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Hyer, Tom (01 January 1819–26 June 1864), boxer and politician, was born Thomas Hyer in New York City, the son of Jacob Hyer, a butcher and boxer, and Johanna (maiden name unknown). Little is known about Hyer’s childhood. Like his father, he was apprenticed as a butcher, but he remained in the trade only a few years. More frequently he worked as a bartender and volunteer fireman....

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Morrissey, John (12 February 1831–01 May 1878), gambler, prizefighter, and U.S. congressman, was born in Templemore, County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of Timothy Morrissey, a factory worker, and Julia or Mary, whose maiden name is unknown. He immigrated with his family to Canada in 1834 and then moved with his family to Troy, New York, where he grew up. As a youth, Morrissey joined several street gangs in Troy and was constantly involved in brawls and gang fights. He worked briefly in a wallpaper factory and in the Burden iron works. He was the leader of a gang called the Downtowns, which engaged in continuing fights with the Uptowns. By 1848, at the age of seventeen, Morrissey began to consider a career in prizefighting after beating a gang of six Uptowns in one afternoon. He got a job as a deck hand on a Hudson River steamer, and about 1849 he married Sarah Smith, the daughter of the ship’s captain. They had one child who died in childhood....