Posted by: nancyisanders | February 23, 2010

African American History: Boxing

My husband and I were sitting at dinner last night when he began to reminisce about his childhood. Because Jeff’s grandfather, Everett L. Sanders, Sr., was a State Athletic Commissioner and wrote the California rules for boxing and wrestling in the 1940s, Jeff has some great memories of seeing boxing champions in person.

Jeff remembered when he was about 14 years old, his dad took him to visit his grandparents to have lunch with world champion Henry Armstrong, the only boxer at that point in history who had held three titles simultaneously. They all talked together for a couple of hours, recalling Henry Armstrong’s glorious days in the ring and discussed Reverend Armstrong’s work as a Christian minister who went on to “Fight for God.”

Every year, Jeff attended the World Boxing Hall of Fame Testimonial Dinner. At these events, he saw such greats as Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Archie Moore.

At one of the last Testimonial Dinners Jeff attended, he met Joe Louis. This dinner turned out to be Joe Louis’ last public event, as he died soon afterword. This photograph was taken of Joe Louis during that dinner by Jeff’s father, Everett L. Sanders, Jr.

Jeff feels honored to have met so many great champions with his grandfather and his dad.


  1. What wonderful memories! I thought of a poem that your husband might enjoy by a poet I worked with for a while. His name is Dan Masterson. The poem is called “Fist Fighter.”

    • Thanks, Doraine! I’ll share the poem with Jeff!!! -Nancy

  2. Wow! That’s neat Jeff got to meet all these famous people and have a grandfather who wrote the CA rules for boxing! That’s a story to write, Nancy!

    • You know, Tina, I had never thought of writing a story about this, but you’re right! It’s funny about how we hear all these family stories all the time and don’t realize how they would make a great book until someone else tells us about it! -Nancy

  3. Nancy, I echo Tina’s suggestion and you have great resources–your husband and his grandfather (is he still alive?).


    • Thanks, Jenny! And no, Jeff’s grandfather passed away in 1985 but we have some nice photos of some of the greats! -Nancy

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