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Ashe, Arthur (10 July 1943–06 February 1993), tennis player, author, and political activist, was born Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Arthur Ashe, Sr., a police officer, and Mattie Cunningham. Tall and slim as a young boy, Ashe was forbidden by his father from playing football; he took up tennis instead on the segregated playground courts at Brookfield Park, near his home. By the time he was ten he came under the tutelage of a local tennis fan and physician from Lynchburg, Walter Johnson. Johnson had previously nurtured Althea Gibson, who would become the first African American to win Wimbeldon, in 1957 and 1958, and his second protégé would prove no less successful....

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Belmont, August (08 December 1813–24 November 1890), financier, politician, and sportsman, was born in Alzey, a German Rhineland village, the son of Simon Belmont, a moneylender and landowner, and Frederika Elsass. He attended a Jewish school, the Philanthropin, in Frankfurt and in 1828 began work as an office boy for the local branch of the Rothschild banking family, to which he was distantly related through marriage. He was soon promoted to confidential clerk and in 1837 was sent to Cuba to investigate that Spanish colony’s stability. A stopover in New York changed the course of his life. The panic of 1837 had just struck, and the Rothschilds’ New York agent had declared bankruptcy. Belmont decided to stay and established August Belmont and Company, a private banking firm that would maintain a close, long-term working relationship with the Rothschilds. Belmont’s rise on Wall Street was rapid. He profited from foreign exchange transactions; commercial and private loans; corporate, real estate, and railroad investments; and as a U.S. government fiscal agent during the Mexican War. In 1849 he married Caroline Slidell Perry, with whom he had six children....

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Belmont, Perry (28 December 1850–25 May 1947), politician and sportsman, was born in New York City, the son of August Belmont, a banker, politician, and sportsman, and Caroline Slidell Perry, daughter of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. He attended Harvard College, 1867–1872, graduating with a B.A. in history, studied Roman and civil law at the University of Berlin, 1873–1874, and enrolled in the Columbia University Law School, 1874–1876. He was admitted to the bar in 1876 and the next year entered the law firm of Porter, Lowrey & Stone. In 1878 he established his own law firm of Vinton, Belmont, and Frelinghuysen....

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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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Kemp, Jack French (13 July 1935–02 May 2009), professional football player, key conservative in the Reagan revolution, and vice presidential candidate, professional football player, key conservative in the Reagan revolution, and vice presidential candidate, was born in Los Angeles, the third of four sons of Paul Robert Kemp, the founder of a small trucking company, and Frances Elizabeth Pope Kemp, a social worker and Spanish teacher. Kemp grew up in the upper-middle-class Wilshire district of West Los Angeles, graduating from Fairfax High School in 1953. At only five feet ten inches and 175 pounds, he was too small to play quarterback at a Division I school, so he chose Occidental College because it ran a pro-style offense. College teammates remembered Kemp as very tenacious and determined to play professional football. A powerful arm made him a Little All-America standout and small college passing leader. Kemp had no bigger booster than college sweetheart, Joanne Main. They married on 19 July 1958 and would have two boys and two girls. Like their father, Jeff and James Kemp both became professional football quarterbacks....

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Kenner, Duncan Farrar (11 February 1813–03 July 1887), businessman and Confederate legislator and diplomat, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest son of William Kenner and Mary Minor Kenner. He was educated by private tutors and in private schools in New Orleans, where his father was a prosperous merchant, planter, and public official. Duncan's mother died at age twenty-seven when he was twenty months old, and his father died when he was eleven. Raised by relatives, Duncan attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he completed his studies in 1831. From the spring of 1832 to the fall of 1834 he traveled and studied in Europe; letters of introduction and social contacts brought him twice to the Austrian court, including a private meeting with Prince Klemens von Metternich, and to a ball for European royalty given by Baron Rothschild....

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Ralph H. Metcalfe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97570).

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Metcalfe, Ralph Harold (30 May 1910–10 October 1978), track and field athlete and U.S. congressman, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Clarence Metcalfe, a stockyard worker, and Marie Attaway, a seamstress. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1917, grew up in a slum area on the South Side, and attended Tilden Technical High School. Metcalfe won the 1929 interscholastic track-and-field sprint championship and, as a member of the Chase Athletic Club, captured the 1930 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) junior 100-yard title in 9.7 seconds....

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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....

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White, Byron R. (08 June 1917–15 April 2002), nationally renowned athlete, lawyer, and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Ft. Collins, Colorado, the second son of A. Albert White, who ran a local lumberyard, and Maude Burger White. White grew up in the nearby farming community of Wellington, whose economy, based on sugar beets, was hit hard during the depression. Both White and his brother Clayton worked in the field from the time they were in grade school. As valedictorians of their high school classes, both won full‐tuition scholarships to the University of Colorado, where both became student body presidents, members of Phi Beta Kappa, and Rhodes Scholars....

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Wilkinson, Bud (23 April 1916–09 February 1994), college football coach, sports commentator, and politician, was born Charles Burnham Wilkinson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Charles Patton Wilkinson, a successful mortgage broker, and Edith Lindbloom Wilkinson, who died when Bud was seven years old. After his mother’s death, Bud attended the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota. He thrived at the school and quickly became a standout student and athlete. He graduated in 1933....