“The Quiet Champion” comes to the Yuba Theatre
Ezzard Charles, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, was a personal friend of Sierra County playwright Bud Buczkowske for nine years while the two men lived in Chicago. Bud’s personal interviews with Ezzard were captivating, something that he could never let go off. These interviews were used as the foundation material for a play that Bud has worked on for many years. So, after a number of readings and years of honing his script, the opportunity for theatrical production has finally arrived. “The Quiet Champion” will be presented on October 15, at 2:00 pm in the Yuba Theatre, in Downieville. Staring actor Brian Price of Camptonville, this one-man, one-act play, tells the story of how Ezzard and his loving wife Gladys overcome unscrupulous managers, and the exploitation of young fighters.
This stirring dramatization of a quiet man’s life unfolds as Ezzard Charles begins his quest of becoming World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Because of his gentleness and wit, he didn’t seem to fit the stereotype of a professional fighter. Ezzard Mack Charles was born in the small town of Lawrenceville, Georgia. While wearing his mothers robe and mittens with a clothesline draped over kitchen chairs and a door knob he would dance about fighting an imaginary opponent announcing himself as Champion of the World. The young fighter really began working out at the age of fourteen. He first picked up boxing pointers from the comic strip character Joe Palooka and Joe Jinks. The first man to train him on boxing techniques was a local janitor. Ezzard’s first training room was the basement of the Shoemaker Clinic Building in Cincinnati, Ohio. He won the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament in 1939, his first step in becoming a professional prize fighter.
The first time he ever considered leaving boxing was in 1947 when he killed a boxer named Sam Baroudi during a match. It had a profound effect on his fighting career, adapting a more cautious style trying not to hurt his opponents.
When Joe Louis decided to return to the ring in June of 1950, Ezzard knew defeating him would be the only way that he would be recognized as World Champion.
Some boxing fans feel Ezzard became Champion at the wrong time never receiving the proper accolades he deserved. He first had to conquer a legend and that meant, “Beating the great Joe Louis.” Then there was Rocky Marciano, the first potential white heavyweight contender since James J. Braddock.
The uncertainty and confusion he faces after retiring from the ring are conquered through the love of his wife. Early in 1966 Ezzard walked with a slight limp, later a leg brace and a walking cane, then a walker and finally a wheelchair. After two years he was finally diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gherig’s disease). In the nine years of struggling with the dreaded ALS, neither Ezzard nor his beautiful wife Gladys ever complained they took life in stride.
This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation. Sponsored by the Sierra County Arts Council, State-Local Partner with the California Arts Council. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.