Sam Langford story not to be missed
Sissaboo Landing – as administered by the Weymouth Waterfront Development Committee – as many know is a wonderful cultural and community resource and haven for the hamlet of Weymouth. I frequently follow their Facebook site and am so very pleased by their efforts.
But what caught my eye recently was a presentation of an award-winning play that is being sponsored by the Sissiboo Landing at the Marc Lescarbot Theater at University Sainte-Anne on Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3. Other sponsors are the Municipality of Clare, the Municipality of Digby and the Royal Bank.
Chasing Champions, The Sam Langford Story, is written by Jacob Sampson and directed by Ron Jenkins. It features Jacob Sampson, Marty Burt, Zach Faye and Micha Cromwell and is, according to the producers, “A story of endurance, fortitude, friendship, and hope. Chasing Champions is a fighters’ story from a time when race and sport were colliding head on. Pound for pound, who was the world’s greatest boxer? Many boxing historians would argue in favor of Sam Langford”
Samuel E. Langford was born in March 4, 1883. He left his native home to pursue a career in boxing and was billed by New England promoters as the Boston Tar Baby, Boston Terror and Boston Bonecrusher in the early part of the 20th century. He has been recognized as the “Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows,” by ESPN. Indeed, many historians consider Langford to be one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Langford stood 5 ft 7 1/2 in (1.71 m) and weighed 185 lb (84 kg) in his prime. He fought from lightweight to heavyweight and defeated many world champions and legends of the time in each weight class.
Yet, he struggled and was denied a shot at many world champion- ships, due to the color bar and by the refusal of Jack Johnson, the first African-American World Heavyweight Champion, to fight him. Langford was the World Colored Heavyweight Champion, a title vacated, by Johnson, after he won the World Championship a record five times.
Langford eventually went completely blind and ended up penniless, living in Harlem, New York City. In 1944, a newspaper column was published about his plight, after which close to $10,000 was donated by fans to help Langford. The column was titled “A Dark Man Laughs” and it was written by Al Laney of the New York Herald Tribune. Eventually funding was obtained to pay for success- ful eye surgery. Langford was enshrined in the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955. He died a year later in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he had been living in a private nursing home. In 1999 in his home province he was voted Nova Scotia’s top male athlete of the 20th century.
Mr. Langford was much more than a boxer. He was a complex man who was tenacious, strong willed and proud. Nova Scotian Proud and Weymouth was his home. The play reflects him as just that. This is a mark-your-calendar event. Tickets are available at Sissiboo Landing and are only $15.