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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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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....