I had wanted to write a boxing story about Junebug Hudson for years. He was one of the few people who could claim to knock-down The Greatest along with the exclusive community of Sonny Banks, Henry Cooper, Joe Frazier and Chuck Wepner. Hudson was also a victim of one of the most aggressive, powerful knock-down punches from Muhammad Ali which is obligatory highlight film. I had hoped he was alive and could provide a boxing photograph/interview about his amazing amateur journey.
Unfortunately, I waited too long. I reached Hudson’s son in the same Glen Cove, Long Island, New York City that Junebug called home throughout his life. I received the following message: “Hi Mr. Shelton. Yes, my father won the Pan-American Boxing Championship and also fought Cassius Clay. However, several years ago he passed on. Allen Hudson III, Assistant Principal, Glen Cove High School.” It greatly bothered me that many Ali biographies, internet search engines or YouTube coverage of Hudson spell his name incorrectly. An Army veteran should be treated with more respect. It is ALLEN Hudson, not ‘Alan’, born Allen J. Hudson Jr. on June 17th, 1936.
Any preserved Junebug Hudson boxing film is historical treasure for me. Hudson was the spotlighted boxer for the 1956 newsreel of New York’s Golden Gloves tournament. The official record for the Golden Gloves outcome is different than the newsreel account. I love these old Ed Herlihy-voiced newsreels, accompanied by upbeat, brass big-band marching music and could view for them for hours: A report on President “Ike” Eisenhower’s heart and press conference with his doctor; a United States Antarctic expedition with a crew member making penguin motions with an actual penguin; Queen Elizabeth visiting British flag waving Nigerians from a leper colony; Film Photoplay Awards to Natalie Wood and Troy Donohue as most promising younger actress/actor; dog shows emphasizing odder breeds and behavior; Canadian ski jumping in Ontario with a spectacular crash for one skier; Australian floods overwhelming towns; Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev giving a 7-hour speech at Bolshoi Theater; Harry O’Brian hurling a shot-put 61 feet; Nashua topping $1-million in horse-race earnings; an avalanche burying 54 in the former Yugoslavia; police arresting abused protesters at an Air Force plant strike in Farmingdale (New York); the future of Army soldiers with portable surveillance cameras strapped to their backs; Hawaii speed boat races; a Golden Globes tribute to recently killed actor James Dean with Gregory Peck and his wife spotlighted; flowers being given to Pope Pius XIII by dancing children; a feature on 1955 World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers; former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis attempting a comeback as a wrestler by knocking out 320 pounds Cowboy Rocky Lee with Jersey Joe Walcott officiating; Korean crowd cheering President Rhee while greeting evangelist Billy Graham; Paris fashion models wearing the designs by Madame Jacque Fath; dazzling Marilyn Monroe receiving flowers from Jack Warner – all mixed with eclectic order. Newsreel: “Fistic fireworks explode at New York’s Madison Square Garden in the 30th annual Golden Gloves championship sponsored by the News Welfare Association…. The punch parade continues before the 11,000 fans with Johnny Melendez in the dark trunks swapping swaps with Roland Kellum for the lightweight crown. Hit or miss there is action every minute of every round.”
(February, 1956) Junebug Hudson lands hard overhand left to chin – knocks Jay Goggin backward against ropes. Goggin bounces off ropes in front of Hudson who lands another left to face. Goggin drops to canvas…. Film cuts are made with a couple Hudson misses to head. Hudson displays more raw power than boxing technique at this point. Finally, Hudson lands another hard right to left to score a knockout victory. Newsreel: “Moving up to the light-heavyweights. Al Hudson forces the action against Jay Goggin. Zeroing in on his Sunday punch – sending Goggin sprawling. Crowd roars – Hudson swings and misses. Moving in for a second shot – Hudson swings – and misses. But he’s got the range. The third time he connects. The end!”
The 1956 Melbourne, Australia summer Olympics found the USA winning its only two boxing gold medals in the weight divisions that 20 year-old Allen Hudson Jr. would consider for his own quest four years later. James Boyd won USA gold for the light-heavyweight division. Pete Rademacher won USA gold for the heavyweight division. Hudson was a more obvious candidate for 1960 Roma, Italy gold medal than a tall, skinny 14 year-old, lightweight boxer out of Joe E. Martin’s gym of whom almost no one knew outside Louisville, Kentucky named Cassius Marcellus Clay.
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The 3rd Army remains best known today under the command of General George S. Patton (5/31/1944 – message to his troops): “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country…. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the big-league ballplayers and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time…. Every man is scared in his first action. If he says he’s not, he’s a goddamned liar. But the real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared…. All through your Army career you men have bitched about what you call ‘chicken-shit drilling.’ That is all for a purpose – to ensure instant obedience to orders and to create constant alertness. This must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a fuck for a man who is not always on his toes…. An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps and fights as a team. This individual hero stuff is bullshit…. Every single man in the Army plays a vital role. So don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant…. Every man does his job. Every man is important. The ordinance men are needed to supply the guns. The quartermaster is needed to bring up the food and clothes for us because where we are going there is not a hell of a lot to steal. Every last damn man in the mess hall – even the one who boils the water to keep us from getting the GI shits – has a job to do.”
By the latter 1950’s the 3rd Army was responsible for the protection of Western Berlin, Germany versus the Soviet Union domination of Eastern Berlin. The commanders during Junebug Hudson’s service were Major General George E. Lynch, Major General Frederick R. Zierath and Major General Roy E. Lindquist. The 3rd Army was basically border patrol along the autobahn with numerous incidents with Russia over transportation territory.
March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free.
Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory.
We’re the Army and proud of our name!
After several days of orientation, Allen Hudson Jr. would have been required to complete eight weeks of basic training. There would be emphasis on working with others and obeying verbal instruction. The initial two weeks would have Hudson learning first aid, military courtesy and tradition. He would have been taught to protect himself in combat situations regarding gas, biological and radiological attack. Army chaplains would instruct Hudson on the relationship between spiritual and patriotic values. Hudson would have learned the 1908 lyrics of future Brigadier General, Edmund L. Gruber:
First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Allen Hudson Jr. was taught rifle marksmanship during the 3rd and 4th weeks of training. Upon completion of the 4th week, Hudson fired 112 rounds of an M1 to determine his mastery of weapon. The 5th and 6th weeks had Hudson negotiating barbed wire and other ground obstacles while holding his weapon. Live machine gun rounds would sound above Hudson’s head as he negotiated the 100 yard ground obstacles during both day and night drills. Hudson would also receive training with bayonet hand-to-hand combat. The 7th week had Hudson marching 13 miles before setting up two-person tent and living off the land with continued tactical training. The final week of training would be devoted to review of the previous weeks along with testing.
Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence good and strong;
For where’er we go,
You will always know
That the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Doctor Ray Barone is a former Lieutenant Colonel combat arms Officer who was employed as the Director of Boxing at U.S. military Academy, West Point. The military academy is separate than the Army tournament boxing team, but I hoped it held similar values. I asked Coach Barone why the military/Army has boxing as curriculum. Barone: “Theodore Roosevelt brought boxing to the Army and the academy. I think he had the Rough Riders boxing when he ran the outfit. What we do at West Point is we have 19 lessons with 14 hours of classes in boxing. We give them offensive and defensive skills. Now, we are not going to train someone to be Golden Gloves or Olympics material in 19 lessons. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to control fear. We give them the skills that portray how to react in the real world. The more you do something the more you adapt. For instance, the more you dive into the deep-end of a pool the less you are afraid to try it. If you have someone shooting at you in Afghanistan you cannot be afraid. You have to be able to deal with it. So boxing is utilized to control fear. The more you box the less likely you are to be afraid. Boxing is utilized for fear management and to reduce stress.”
In March, 1957, Junebug Hudson fighting for the 3rd Army fought in the intra All-Army tournament at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In the semi-finals, Hudson fought a 6th Army boxer, Curley Lee. In the 2nd round, Hudson knocked down Lee with his famous left-hook. In the 3rd and final round, Lee ‘jarred’ Hudson several times with hard punches. Hudson won a unanimous decision advancing to the heavyweight finals. It was reported by local media as the fight of tournament.
President Eisenhower – State of the Union address (1/9/1959): “We cannot build peace through desire alone. Moreover, we have learned the bitter lesson that international agreements, historically considered by us as sacred, are considered in a Communist doctrine and practice to be mere scraps of paper. The most recent proof of their disdain of international obligations, solemnly undertaken, is their announced intention to abandon their responsibilities respecting Berlin…. Acting with other free nations we have undertaken the solemn obligation to defend the people of free Berlin against any effort to destroy their freedom.”
Tommy Gallagher is a 72 year-old trainer who opened his first New York City gym in 1965. He was awarded the Ring 8, Veteran Boxers Association of New York’s 2010 Trainer of the Year. He has achieved national fame via television, The Contender. I asked Gallagher what he remembered about Junebug Hudson. Gallagher: “I was around him a little bit, but I didn’t know him that well. I was younger than him; I think five years younger than him. What I did know is that he was a real good, stand-up guy. As a heavyweight he fought at around 205 or 200 pounds. He would stand in front of you. Great jab. Great left hook. He was a real confident fighter.”
In late-April, 1959, Junebug Hudson scored a 2nd round knockout of James Jones in the western regional, held in Madison, Wisconsin to qualify as heavyweight representing USA in the upcoming Pan-American games. The light-heavyweight was Marines’ Amos Johnson who won split-decision over Cassius Clay. Others to qualify were Hobby Foster of Air Force (165 pounds); Wilbert McClure of Chicago Golden Gloves (156 pounds) and Dean Harrison of Air Force (148 pounds).
Staff Sgt. Charles Leverette is a former Army heavyweight boxer who was an assistant coach for the 2012 USA Olympic Team. I asked him how Junebug Hudson or any military boxer serves their nation. Leverette: “We follow our motto, ‘This we’ll defend,’ and we keep up with our regular jobs. Military boxers represent our country against the world in competition….. They must continue with their regular jobs, but they are trained to be the best, and compete against the best and possibly go all the way to the Olympics…. They are serving their country because they are doing what we asked them to do.”
At the 1959 Pan-American games, while performing his military duty, Junebug Hudson won heavyweight Gold for in the heavyweight division. Hudson received the unanimous decision over Argentina’s, Eduardo Corletti. Despite three other Americans winning gold; Amos Johnson, Vince Shomo and Wilbert McClure the Argentina team won the tournament.
Coach Ray Barone: “Military boxers need the same traits as any other boxer. They need the discipline to train. To make weight. They need to be committed and not chasing (women). They need to have a never-quit attitude.” The 1959 Pan-American heavyweight gold medal would be the greatest boxing accomplishment for Junebug Hudson. It is the reason he remains (after Howard Davis Jr.) the greatest boxer in the hearts of Glen Cove, Long Island. It would be two future punches, one that Hudson landed and the other against him, which continues his fame outside the Glen Cove boxing community.
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Junebug Hudson vs. Cassius Clay (5/20/1960)
Allen Hudson Jr.’s next goal was to make the 1960 Olympic team that would compete in Roma. Hudson chose a curious path that greatly affected his chances. Despite his success as heavyweight (178+ pounds) he made the crucial decision to compete for the team as a light-heavyweight instead. Hudson, according to Tommy Gallagher was “long and lean”, but to compete in the non-heavyweight division allowed hand speed and quicker footwork to be weapons against him. Hudson would have known the most media-hyped amateur boxer was a light-heavyweight who fought out of Chicago, Cassius Marcellus Clay. The pugilist, who would be one day known as ‘The Greatest’ had won the 1959 & 1960 USA light-heavyweight national amateur championship.
Cassius Clay displayed dazzling foot-shuffles along with superior hand speed to easily decision Jimmy Jones to win the Chicago light-heavyweight Golden Gloves. This placed him in the March 21st finale versus New York City’s light-heavyweight Golden Gloves champion, Gary Jawish. ROUND 3: Both stalk in center ring – Clay sticks out left to chin for range – follows with hard right that lands to face. Jawish stands in place like statue – arms raised. Clay dances backward – steps forward with upper-cut left that lands to jaw. Jawish foolishly steps forward – Clay taps with outstretched left – follows with hard right which lands to side of head. Jawish continues to attempt bulling forward. Clay pushes New York foe backward – dances back a step – steps forward with quick left jab feint that is instead an overhand left punch which lands hard to side of head. A stunned Jawish stumbles backward onto ropes. Clay begins to pounce forward with right punch, but the referee intervenes by jumping in-between the boxers to end the bout by technical knockout.
The decision to switch weight division would be the most crucial mistake of Junebug Hudson’s Olympic boxing aspiration. Hudson would have been the favorite to make the team as a heavyweight. According to his son, Hudson’s Army friend requested the change. The friend was a heavyweight and did not think he could defeat Junebug – which the latter agreed. Hudson felt that he could win the Olympic trials tournament as either a heavyweight or light-heavyweight. Hudson and his friend agreed that the switch would enable both Army boxers to make the 1960 Olympic team. Perhaps, having personally witnessed Cassius Clay’s 1959 Pan-American trials defeat to Amos Johnson made him seem less inevitable or invincible. Clay had the mistaken perception as a highly-skilled boxer “who didn’t punch hard,” or if hit would easily go down although only knocked out twice throughout his amateur/professional career, ages 15 and 38, while neither time was knocked to canvas.
Frank Pena has been involved in the Glen Cove boxing community since the 1980’s. Pena was awarded ‘Referee of the Year’ by the Daily News for the 2008 Golden Gloves tournament and is the current president of Glen Cove Boxing Club. I asked Pena for any information he could offer regarding Junebug Hudson. Pena: “Junebug used to train at the Girls & Boys club with Hubert Hilton. It was just a house then. Did anyone tell you what happened with Junebug before the Ali fight?” Tommy Gallagher: “(Hudson) had an incident with Ali before the Olympic trials. I think it was in April maybe. They were all playing cards and arguing until things escalated into a fight.” Pena: “I think it was Colorado Springs. They were together and talking bad about each other. Ali said something that Junebug didn’t like so Junebug knocked him right on his ass. Ali got up mad saying, ‘I’m going to knock your ass out in the ring,’ and they did knock each other down when they fought during the Olympic trials.”
Future light-heavyweight boxing champion, Bob Foster, explained the touring of boxers for tournaments which can make someone sympathetic to Junebug Hudson or any of opponents of the future Muhammad Ali whether they fought him or not. According to Foster, Cassius Clay liked to keep fellow boxers awake with his boastful talk of how he could beat anyone, was already the greatest and would become youngest professional Champion. An Army champion, trained in modesty and discipline, wouldn’t appreciate someone picking fight with his mouth. Junebug would kill Cassius Clay in bayonet hand-to-hand combat. Clay was always smart enough to back off with reminder boxing wasn’t bayonet combat or street fighting – but a sport.
There is reason to believe the veracity of a pre-bout fight. Muhammad Ali has admitted since that Junebug talked trash to him during their May 20th bout. Ali, as a professional, had colorful history unlike anyone else when it came to downgrading an opponent before a bout. In retrospect, Ali was often being playful for the media but the boxing opponent was sometimes angered by his psychological verbal jabs, and some such as future heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier, never forgave for the hurtful words hurled in his direction. Whether it was verbal gameplay or actual animosity that Hudson was directing toward Ali would be utilized by the teenager throughout his professional career. Ali: “I picked up the art of talking to my opponent during the Olympic Trials after I fought Allen Hudson, who talked to me during the whole fight.”
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(San Francisco, May 20th): Light-heavyweight finalists meet in center ring. Junebug Hudson snaps left jab to head – misses short – snaps another left jab – misses short. Cassius Clay paws with light right to head – Hudson counters with hard right punch which lands to body. Clay lands light left jab to head – follows with straight left jab to measure distance. Both separate – Clay bounces on feet – Hudson throws left hook which grazes face. Clay moves in and aggressively lands left, right, left combinations to head before leaning into opponent. Both separate and move toward center ring. Hudson boars in – Clay lands short left to head while grabbing head of opponent for clinch.
Both bull with strength within clinch – Hudson lands short right to body – boxers separate. Clay sticks out left arm – Hudson steps in and lands hard left hook to chin – Clay knocked backward onto canvas. The referee steps in to count: ‘1, 2’ – Clay rises to feet. The referee counts ‘3’ – grabs Clay’s gloves and pushes him backward for full count. ‘4, 5, 6, 7, 8’. Bout continues.
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Hudson sticks out left jab that is short. Clay fast on feet as Hudson steps in – Clay lands quick, looping hard right on chin – Hudson wobbled. Clay charges forward with a dazed Hudson backing. Clay aggressively continues forward with a devastating, hard right which lands to jaw – Hudson knocked backward to canvas on corner ropes.
Allen Hudson III: “I grew up probably not liking Cassius Clay too much. You know, I grew up hearing stories from my uncles. My father didn’t talk about Clay too much. I only know he was ahead on points before being knocked down.” Junebug on knees while holding middle rope for support. Hudson rises. The referee pushes Clay away while grabbing Hudson’s gloves. The referee tentatively waves the bout over without offering a count. A dazed Hudson steps forward. Clay pounces with a hard right which lands to side of head. The referee steps in and waves the bout over again. TKO – 3.
Muhammad Ali: “(Junebug) was a bad, fast left hooker. He was knocking out everybody with left hooks. He was 23 years old. I was 18. I was too fast for him. My left jab was too fast for him and my footwork was too fast for him and he just couldn’t stay on his feet.” Clay raises both hands in triumph. Hudson collapses to ground and rolls over. Hudson rises to feet enraged at the referee stoppage. Hudson’s corner-man wearing Army logo robe intervenes with his fighter who continues yelling. The referee steps over as the Army trainer bear-hugs his boxer. Hudson is overwhelmingly disconsolate as he continues to plead that the bout was wrongly stopped.
In retrospect, The Road Not Taken, with so much success as an amateur heavyweight, Junebug Hudson should have remained in the division for his Olympic quest. The man to stop Hudson from his goal would have been Percy Price, instead of a pugilist who wouldn’t lose another amateur/professional bout until 1971. Three American boxers completed their amateur quest in San Francisco to win Olympic gold in Roma: light-middleweight, Wilbert McClure (15-5), middleweight Eddie Crook (8-2, 2 KO’s) and of course, Clay/Ali’s light-heavyweight division. The home nation, Team Italy, was the most successful while Percy Price did not receive a medal with his quarterfinal (1-4) loss to Josef Nemec of Czechoslovakia. Instead of the 1959 Pan-American heavyweight gold medal champion battling to defend his top amateur status for the United States, the Olympic glory went to Franco de Piccoli of Italy scoring a 2nd round knockout over Daniel Bekker of South Africa. Guenther Siegmund (6-4, 1 KO) of Germany and Josef Nemec (10-5) received semi-final bronze medals. Cassius Clay overwhelmed his four opponents (15-0, 1 KO) while the only heavyweight who might have challenged Hudson for a life-changing gold medal would have been de Piccoli (9-1, 2 KO’s).
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By 1962, Junebug Hudson had likely concluded his Army career. Once, a lowly private, Hudson had risen to the rank of sergeant. Hudson would lead a squad of approximately 10 men. It was a time of racial inequity in the United States, but White soldiers of lesser rank addressed their African-American military superior, not as “Allen” but “Sergeant Hudson”. Hudson had proudly served his nation with honor for several years – instilled with Army pride and discipline – so his future with return to civilian life would focus on professional career and raising a family.
BoxRec lists an “Al Hudson from Glen Cove” fighting professionally as light-heavyweight in Long Island, New York City, 1962-63. They list two victories in New Jersey including a 2nd round knockout of Bob Marshall. According to BoxRec, on December 18th, 1962, light-heavyweight Mel Fulgham defeated 173-pounds Hudson on points during a 4-round Long Island bout at Sunnyside Gardens Arena. It was supposedly the first professional loss for Hudson.
What is not in doubt was that Sonny Liston, with a single loss in his professional career, had become the heavyweight champion. Sonny Banks had become the first professional boxer to knock Cassius Clay down during the latter’s 11th bout, although Clay arose from the canvas to win by 4th round knockout. Clay remained undefeated following a 4th round knockout (“Moore In Four”) of 48 years-old former light-heavyweight champion, Archie Moore, to raise his record to 16-0-0, 13 knockouts.
BoxRec lists three final bouts for Hudson at Sunnyside Gardens Arena. There is only one “Al Hudson” that ever boxed from Glen Cove and that is Junebug. I could not independently verify any of the six professional bouts listed by BoxRec. The final three bouts that BoxRec records for Hudson at Sunnyside Gardens Arena are a 3rd round knockout victory for Hudson in a rematch with Fulgham, a 3rd round TKO loss to Curtis Bruce and a final 3rd round TKO loss to Paul Johnson on April 30th, 1963. Tommy Gallagher was the perfect person to ask about Junebug Hudson’s professional bouts because he was one of the leaders from Ring 8 for a plaque to be enshrined in memory of Sunnyside Gardens Arena after its 1977 closure to make room for Wendy’s fast-food hamburger restaurant. The plaque reads: “This monument is in honor and dedicated to those men who fought in the amateur and professional bouts.” The New York Times mentioned Gallagher as the man who (unofficially due to State laws) promoted the first boxing card in the Queens borough following Sunnyside Gardens Arena’s closure.
Tommy Gallagher: “(Junebug) was offered a deal as a pro. What was the name of the guy? Alex Coskowitz. But he didn’t take it and I heard that he later regretted that.” Coskowitz was the manager of Top 10 heavyweight contender, Doug Jones, who gave Clay/Ali his toughest professional bout of the 1960’s losing a controversial 10-round decision. Gallagher: “I saw his professional fights at Sunnyside Garden. There weren’t too many. Maybe 4 or 5. Something happened when (Junebug) turned pro. I don’t know what it was. Maybe women or drugs. I don’t know. I never saw him drink. But something was different than when he was a Golden Gloves champ and fought Ali. He just wasn’t the same fighter.” It is truthful as axiom, while perhaps difficult to comprehend for the non-boxing world, that ‘women’ and ‘illegal street drugs’ are viewed as equal pugilist killers. Fortunately, for Hudson, if those are your two options, it was somewhere at this time he melted in love with a beautiful and intelligent girl, Betty. It was the beginning of relationship commitment priorities while simultaneous as conclusion for professional boxing dreams.
It is best not to wonder what might have happened if Junebug Hudson had fought the 1960 Olympic trials as a heavyweight. He would have been favored to make the team. His main competition would have been the Marines’ Percy Price. The Olympic Gold winner was Italy’s Franco de Piccoli. Both Price and de Piccoli would have been better match-ups for Hudson instead of Cassius Clay who would not lose a bout until 1971.
Allen Hudson III: “My father didn’t talk about boxing much. I thought about becoming a boxer myself, but my father was against it. ‘Pick another sport,’ he would tell me.” Junebug Hudson, post-boxing retirement, made his first appearance as a “movie star” on Broadway and into the New York Times, 1965, with the exciting development that producer, William Cayton, along with his partner Jim Jacobs, were releasing several bouts from their collection of purchased boxing films that had not been seen in years – and many thought lost forever. Jacobs was an unusual renaissance man, who grew up imitating the acrobatic physical stunts of comic book’s Boy Wonder (“Robin”), became a famed comic book collector and was the current USA handball champion. Jacobs was already viewed as the greatest handball player in history (and retains that reputation nearly 50 years later), who bought the controversial first bout between Champion Joe Louis versus Jersey Joe Walcott at aged 14 to view for himself if Walcott should have been awarded the decision. Cayton and Jacobs combed through the thousands of bouts they co-owned with an eye on releasing them for a series of documentaries. It was Jacobs’ idea, as writer/director for brief storylines before each bout presentation, often erroneous, as an excuse for drama or to introduce celebrity footage they owned. Jacobs was an admirer of undefeated professional Muhammad Ali, still called ‘Clay’ by sports media but felt he was beatable with his 1960 Hudson-Clay owned film as proof. Almost no one amongst the professional boxing community, even its most rapid fans, had heard of Junebug Hudson or seen anyone other than Englishman Henry Cooper knock-down (1963) the boastful heavyweight champion. The Hudson bout also provided proof of Ali’s underrated punching power, with dramatic knockout, for their 50-minutes documentary appropriately named, “Knockout.” Cayton was a boxing fan, but more of the financial backer and accountant so that Jacobs could chase around the world and convince people to sell their old bout films, which appeared to have little to no monetary value.
Muhammad Ali public statement (4/28/1967): “It is in the light of my consciousness as a Muslim minister and my own personal convictions that I take a stand in rejection the call to be inducted into the armed services. I do so with the full realization of its implications and possible consequences. I have searched my conscience and I find that I cannot be true to my belief in my religion by accepting such a call. My decision is a private and individual one and I realize this is a most crucial decision. In taking it I am dependent solely upon Allah as the final judge of these actions brought about by my own conscience.”
By 1969, Muhammad Ali was an undefeated former heavyweight boxing champion facing a 5-year prison sentence. He was in need of income when he agreed to appear for the documentary, “A.K.A., Cassius Clay”, produced by William Cayton and directed by Jim Jacobs. Ali discussed his career and boxing style with Floyd Patterson’s former manager, Cus D’Amato. Ali quietly listened while D’Amato explained that Joe Louis would have knocked him out. The 1970 film was more political than previous boxing documentaries released with Jacobs, also African-American, friendly towards Ali’s plight as a Black man in racist nation. The drafted Jacobs of the early 1950’s unhappily served two years with the 1st Cavalry Division as rifleman, in Japan and Korea, admittedly more concerned that he was missing out on current issues of Detective Comics: “I went in as a private and came out a private. I wasn’t the best soldier.” The 1970 movie directed by Jacobs was not as friendly towards Junebug Hudson who was unnamed with only the “Army” shorts logo prominently displayed, his knockdown and any success edited out so that that Ali could be seen by movie audiences easily battering the 3rd Army boxer until a devastating right-punch knocked Hudson out and senseless.
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Recently, I visited the Phoenix Boys Center Boxing in Phoenix, Arizona which is owned by Kelly Fenn. The Fenn family has been the main organizers for the Phoenix Golden Gloves for the past 60 years. The gym has amateur male boxers of different ethnic and racial background shuffling, running on treadmills and punching the air, a trainer’s giant mitt or each other inside the ring. The gym’s goal, like most in America which brings out the best in boxing, is to give young men (and women) an opportunity to avoid gangs and stay out of trouble. Newspaper clippings surround the gym of Phoenix Golden Gloves success stories or professional boxers who visited. Only one professional boxer, a Golden Gloves success story, is persona-non-grata. Muhammad Ali doesn’t know and likely wouldn’t care that he remains banned from entering a Phoenix boxing gym today. Al Fenn was a World War II combat veteran who was also a successful amateur Marines boxer. Fenn later trained and managed the greatest professional heavyweight in Phoenix history, an Army champion named Zora Folley. Many of the veterans angriest with Ali, which was especially the World War ll generation, have passed away. I asked Kelly Fenn if she wanted to relay how her deceased father felt: “Dad was Marine (middleweight) champ on Guam in WW II. He won a $50 savings bond and received a letter from General Erksine congratulating him that he won…. (I can verify having viewed the letter)…. Dad didn’t respect him. Continued to call him Cassius Clay. Thought he was a coward using a religion to hide behind. Wasn’t happy when he was considered a hero late in life. Thought he was a big mouth and how ironic it was when he couldn’t speak later. I could say more.”
“Muhammad Ali, Plaintiff v. The DIVISION OF STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION OF the DEPARTMENT OF STATE OF the STATE OF NEW YORK and Edwin B. Dooley, Albert Berkowitz and Raymond J. Lee, as Chairman and Members Thereof, Defendants. United States District Court, S.D. New York. September 14, 1970…. MANSFIELD, District Judge. In this action for a declaratory judgment and injunction, plaintiff, Muhammad Ali, popularly known as Cassius Clay, has moved for a preliminary injunction restraining defendants from denying him a license to box in the State of New York. For the reasons stated below the injunction is granted…. On September 22, 1969, (Ali) applied to the Commission for renewal of his license to box in New York. On October 14, 1969, the Commission unanimously denied the application because his ‘refusal to enter the service and (his) felony conviction in violation of Federal law is regarded by this Commission to be detrimental to the best interests of boxing.’…. The Commission’s records reveal at least 244 instances in recent years where it has granted, renewed or reinstated the boxing license to applicants who have been convicted of one or more felonies, misdemeanors or military offenses including moral turpitude. Some 94 felons thus licensed include persons convicted for such anti-social activities as second degree murder, burglary, armed robbery, extortion, grand larceny, rape, sodomy, aggravated assault and battery, embezzlement, arson and receiving stolen property…. The 15 military offenses include convictions or dishonorable discharges for desertion from the Armed Forces of the United States, assault upon an officer, burglary and larceny…. Denial of a license to box has barred Ali from pursuing in New York his chosen trade, from which he earned his living for most of his adult years prior to 1967, with but a limited number of years remaining in which he can meet the rigorous physical standards essential to engaging in such activity. It is clear that unless preliminary relief is granted, he will suffer irreparable injury. The harm to Ali cannot be measured in damages. Accordingly his motion is granted and the defendants are enjoined from denying him a license to box because of his conviction for refusal to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
On March 8th, 1971, at Madison Square Garden, after repeatedly being called a “fraud”, “Uncle Tom” and “the White man’s champion,” undefeated Joe Frazier knocked-down Muhammad Ali during the 15th round in winning a unanimous decision for the heavyweight championship. With “gorilla” eventually added to the name-calling repertoire while punching a toy gorilla that he called “Joe Frazier”, Ali would one day knockout, but never knocked-down an embittered foe. Frazier later insisted that Ali was “a racist” and would never forgive nor forget. Ali waited 30 years to apologize, which was initially accepted, but Frazier changed his mind while instead insisting that he hoped his body/head-punches and not another pugilist caused Ali’s Parkinson’s syndrome tremors and slurred speech.
United States Supreme Court (June 28th, 1971): “Cassius Marcellus CLAY, Jr. also known as Muhammad Ali, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES…. The petitioner was convicted for willful refusal to submit to induction into the Armed Forces…. The judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit…. In order to qualify for classification as a conscientious objector, a registrant must satisfy three basic tests. He must show that he is conscientiously opposed to war in any form…. He must show that this opposition is based upon religious training and belief…. And he must show that this objection is sincere…. Since the Appeal Board gave no reason for its denial of the petitioner’s claim, there is absolutely no way of knowing upon which of the three grounds offered in the Department’s letter it relied. Yet the Government now acknowledges that two of those three grounds were not valid. And, the Government’s concession aside, it is indisputably clear, for the reasons stated, that the Department was simply wrong as a matter of law in advising that the petitioner’s beliefs were not religiously based and were not sincerely held…. This case, therefore, falls squarely within the four corners of this Court’s decision in Sicurella v. United States…. There as here the Court was asked to hold that an error in an advice letter prepared by the Department of Justice did not require reversal of a criminal conviction because there was a ground on which the Appeal Board properly have denied a conscientious objector classification. This Court refused to consider the proffered alternative ground…. The application of this doctrine in the area of Selective Service law goes back at least to 1945, and Judge Learned Hand’s opinion for the Second Circuit…. Levy v. Cain…. United States v. Lemmens (1970)…. United States v. Broyles (1970)…. United States v. Haughton (1969)…. United States v. Jakobson (1963)…. United States v. Seeger…. Kretchet v. United States (1960)…. Ypparila v. United States (1954)…. United States v. Englander (1967)…. United States v. Erikson (1957)…. In every one of the above cases the defendant was acquitted or the conviction set aside under the Sicurella application of the Stromberg doctrine. The long established rule of law embodied in these settled precedents thus clearly requires that the judgment before us be reversed. It is so order Judgment reversed. Mr. Justice MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Muhammad Ali’s conviction is probably morally connected to Americans of today who are not obligated to serve in the Armed Forces. But was it legally correct by the standards of 1971? Ali’s own words damaged him legally: “Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me a Nigger.” Legally, Ali had to prove that his objection to war was not specifically related to Vietnam, which it clearly was based on comments before and after his conviction was overturned, but that he would have declined participation in World War II, World War I, Korea madness of early 1950’s, versus Britain in 1812, versus Spain in 1898 or any United States armed conflict. It would be difficult to prove Ali’s mindset about Muslim pacifism because it is solely based on his religious interpretation via the American teaching of Elijah Muhammad. The final aspect that Ali’s decision of sincerity remains the easiest to prove toward his innocence since he lost heavyweight title and tremendous income by following moral conscience.
Many Muslim nations have compulsory military service, under Allah, both in 1971 and today. The Qur’an does not encourage war but seems to accept its inevitability. The reason that the United States has an all-volunteer military today is not merely morality, but the luxury it is not in imminent danger of attack from Canada or Mexico. Ceren Sultan Altay is medical student who is president of European Medical Students Association employed at the Teddy Bear Hospital in Yeditepe, Turkey. I asked her about compulsory service for men in a Muslim nation. Miss Altay: “As you know we have here a terrorism problem. People send their children to Army for a holy mission, but they don’t get enough education and are sent to the areas where terrorism kills many of the people including soldiers. In the first month of education, they prepare soldiers just for a show at which they swear and prove their attachment to their country by shouting. After that period, they are sent to another place and guess what? They don’t know how to use guns, so they are killed by the terrorists. In Turkey, vast majority doesn’t know reading and writing. Many of them are also very poor. They don’t care protecting the country. They just want to wait dying somehow. Anyway, these are some of my thoughts about Turkish Army.”
Military service was compulsory for both Junebug Hudson and Muhammad Ali. One American chose to serve while the other declined. Both play a part in the United States all-volunteer military service today. Ali’s legal challenge altered the perception that all “draft dodgers” were unpatriotic cowards. The 1971 Supreme Court decision proved that the Constitutional legal process might be unpopular, but fair. Of course, we must always remember the only reason one group of Americans can avoid military service today is because another group of Americans, such as Sergeant Allen Hudson Jr. served and bravely defended their nation.
In 1973, Betty and Junebug gave birth to a son in their beloved Glen Cove community. The Hudson’s were in the prime of their life with Betty at 30 years-old while Junebug was 36. School activities would soon be the most important priorities of their life. Allen Hudson III: “My mother was more the disciplinarian growing up than my father. She owned her own beauty salon. My mother was a hard worker who was the only African-American in Glen Cove to own a business. All the women needed to have their hair done so they would visit my mom. Because of this her business was sort of a focal point for the community.”
The 1973 heavyweight champion of the world was an undefeated Goliath graduate success of Lyndon Johnson’s Job Corp named George Foreman. He knocked down former undefeated champion, Joe Frazier 6-times with 2nd round knockout: “I am the product of a compassionate America,” who defiantly waved an American flag following his 1968 Olympic heavyweight gold medal victory which earned the public wrath of many African-Americans. I am sure Junebug Hudson felt much the same as Foreman and did not hate his country. Muhammad Ali, aged 31, had concluded the year as the #1 ranked contender following two bouts and 24-bruising rounds with Ken Norton. Ali had his jaw broken by the former Marine champion in the 1st round of what became the second loss of his professional career. But Ali would not fall to canvas as Norton pounded away with his unorthodox style. Their second encounter was a Draw after 11 rounds, but Ali’s professional acumen landed combinations for brief boxing dominance that earned a controversial split-decision victory.
By the conclusion of 1974, Muhammad Ali was the heavyweight champion. Ali was a 3-1 underdog who had announced his retirement following a finale bout with George Foreman. “Rope-A-Dope” became boxing lexicon from The Rumble In The Jungle in Zaire, Africa with Ali scoring a shocking 8th round knockout victory. By the conclusion of 1974, Junebug Hudson held decade-long steady employment. Frank Pena: “Junebug worked at the Long Island Rail Road. He wasn’t a conductor or nothing. He lay down wood and gravel along the tracks. He was a handyman.” Tommy Gallagher: “I knew someone who worked at the railroad and knew him. This was the 1970’s. He said (Junebug) was a great pal and real hard working.”
Team USA dominated the 1976 Montreal, Canada summer Olympics winning five boxing gold medals. The victorious Americans included Leo Randolph (flyweight), Sugar Ray Leonard (light-welterweight), Michael Spinks (middleweight) and Leon Spinks (light-heavyweight). The Glen Cove community had its first Olympic boxing gold medal via lightweight, Howard Davis Jr.
There were deserved parties, parades and VIP invitations for Glen Clove’s Olympic Gold champion. The men’s 1976 American boxing team remains the most celebrated in USA history. Howard Davis Jr.’s victory held mixed-emotions with his mom’s passing away as the games began. The American people connected to his heartbreak story. Following his victory there was a police escort for Davis to his own home. Over 500 people were there hollering with celebration. Perhaps, Junebug and Betty were amongst the revelers. Two Long Island parades, including one in Glen Cove, were scheduled for Davis. President Ford invited Davis to the White House.
There had to be mixed feelings held within for Junebug Hudson. He was friends with Howard Davis Sr. who had a boxing gym in his backyard. But the Glen Cove parade and White House invitation for Davis should have been his own 16-years earlier. Hudson’s son admits that his father probably held a “sore spot” with fate.
Today, Howard Davis Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer of Fight Time Promotions – www.fighttimepromotions.com – which promotes MMA/kickboxing bouts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He graciously consented to an interview for this story. Davis: “I’ve known Junebug since I was a little kid. He was friends with my father. He didn’t talk much about himself, but my father told me stories about him. He had a great jab. He had a great left hook – a tremendous left hook. Junebug defeated Muhammad Ali as an amateur. Not too many boxers can say they beat Ali.” I remind that Hudson scored a knock-down, but the referee halted the bout in Ali’s favor. “The ref did stop the fight,” continued Davis, “but Junebug was ahead on points and everyone in Glen Cove considered him the winner.”
Following twelve rounds in New Orleans, September 15th, 1978, the bee had lost its sting, but the butterfly had one final flight. Former 2-time champion, Muhammad Ali, had methodically built an 8-3-1, or at worst 8-4 lead over the undefeated heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks. The 3-time national amateur champion, winning an Olympic gold medal while representing the Marines, had shocked the world with an aggressively deserved dethroning of a lethargic Ali to win the title. Leon Spinks was a personal mess of confusion over the next several months while Ali strategized and trained like he hadn’t for years. With three rounds remaining in New Orleans, the undefeated heavyweight Champion needed to knock out Ali to retain his title, and that wasn’t going to happen. Ali had not been knocked-down since a 1975 body punch by journeyman Chuck “Rocky Balboa” Wepner. Ali could have coasted or rope-a-doped during the final rounds versus Spinks but continued his same strategy and probably won the final three to regain the heavyweight championship for the 3rd time. There would be retirement and two more disappointing bouts for Ali, twenty rounds at ages 38-39, but neither undefeated heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes nor #4 contender, Trevor Berbick, knocked The Greatest onto canvas.
The 1960 knock-down of Muhammad Ali could have paid financial dividends for Junebug Hudson throughout the 1980’s. Although Sonny Banks’ 1962 knock-down of Ali meant little after earning $700 for being beaten to death inside a boxing ring in 1965, the others who knocked-down Ali were rewarded heavily. Henry Cooper had been a European heavyweight champion, but his British nation preferred to remember the single 1963 knock-down punch, assisted by Jim Jacobs/William Cayton who had utilized it for dramatic purpose over and over as a storyline prelude to Cassius Clay’s 8-1 underdog victory over Sonny Liston. Smokin’ Joe Frazier did not want to be remembered for one bout, opponent or a single punch, but the American and world public had adopted his feats as their own so the 1971 Ali knock-down (“Fight Of The Century”) became symbolic of his professional career. Chuck Wepner turned his knock-down of Ali into a lucrative post-boxing career. Wepner never tired of being asked about the Ali knock-down or the “Rocky” movies, and when he wasn’t asked, reminded anyone within earshot.
Meanwhile, Junebug Hudson quietly blended into the Glen Cove community. The residents knew he was a former boxer who had achieved amateur success, but the past was not something for which he lived his life. Allen Hudson III: “My father worked at the Railroad for 30 years. He was a Union guy who eventually became a foreman. He drove a boom truck carrying tracks and dirt and such. His job was a blessing and a curse. He was more popular than the foreman when he started out so a lot of the young guys would come to him instead because he was so knowledgeable, so this would be a problem with administration.”
Allen Hudson III told me that Junebug was proud of his 3rd Army affiliation, but like many veterans was uncomfortable speaking about his military experience with civilians. President Reagan at Berlin Wall (6/12/1987): “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General secretary Gorbachev – if you seek peace – if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe – if you seek liberalization – come here to this gate. MISTER GORBACHEV – open this gate! Mister Gorbachev – TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!…. And I invite Mister Gorbachev – let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of this city closer together so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.”
Junebug Hudson continued his work as foreman for the Long Island Rail Road. He had several men working under him, thus his military leadership training proved useful. There is a photograph that appears to be Glen Cove from the year 1988. It is a chalkboard listing various sports along with its instructor: golf with “Pat R”; softball with “Shirley C”; track with “Joseph S”. 1988 is followed by the name of Joseph Reilly who was listed as the Athletic Administrator. Reilly had been a former athlete turned Republican mayor of Glen Cove from 1962-66. Other names from the chalkboard include football with “Theodore C”; baseball with “William F”; auto racing with “Glen U”; and boxing with “Don K” and “Allen Hudson Jr.”
The terrific 1989 boxing documentary, “Champions Forever” covered the 1960’s-1970’s years through the eyes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton and Larry Holmes. It was not a Jacobs-Cayton production due to the former dying of cancer the previous year. Both had gained national fame that exceeded anything prior as co-managers of undefeated heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. Junebug Hudson’s contribution edit from “Champion’s Forever” was a credited few seconds of being knocked into the next planet by Ali accompanied via the pretty piano of Bebu Silvetti. Perhaps it was symbolic as Hudson’s life would spiral downward with recognition of mortality. Betty D. Hudson passed away in 1993, at the regrettably young age of 49.
Allen Hudson III: “My mother and father both stressed education. My father only had an 8th grade education which is why he joined the Army. I wanted to go into law school, but my father wanted me to be superintendent instead. He would tell me, ‘One day, you are going to be the first African-American mayor of Glen Cove.’” Today it is Junebug’s son who is the local celebrity as assistant principal of Glen Cove High School. The average annual salary of a New York employee is $50,000 while the average salary of a public school employee is barely over $40,000. Allen Hudson III earns a staggering $160,000 in comparison. Hudson III, 41 years-old, performs the following duties: “Supervise student government, clubs, proms, and other student activities, class scheduling, graduation ceremonies, and student discipline.” In addition, Hudson III coaches female athletes such as the middle-school basketball team, the Hudson Storm. The Hudson family includes Junebug’s grandchildren whose moral compass for equality is stimulated by Glen Cove’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
Major General Matvei Burlakov to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Boris N. Yeltsan (9/1/1994): “I report to you that the international agreement on the temporary stay and the complete withdrawal of the Soviet Army in Germany has been fulfilled. All personnel have been withdrawn to Russia and are prepared to carry out further orders.” Chancellor Kohl (9/8/1994): “We thank our American, British and French friends. We will always remember that it was the presence of your soldiers that made it possible to breathe freely in Berlin. They paid for the freedom of Berlin, and thus for the freedom of the whole Germany. For this, they deserve our lasting gratitude. Today, as you leave Berlin, we can definitely say that FREEDOM has won.”
On September 13th, 1996, Junebug Hudson passed away at the age of 60. Hudson’s funeral would not have been a financial burden to the family since his military service along with New York residence provided $6,000 to defray expenses. The presence of two military personnel was mandatory to officially recognize this former Army boxer’s contribution toward peace. United States Department of Veterans: “A United States flag was provided, at no cost, to drape the casket of (Sgt. Allen Hudson Jr.) who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was furnished to honor the memory of (Sgt. Hudson)’s service to his country.”
Howard Davis Jr.: “Junebug was very unusual in that he was so tall, 6’4, and at 175 pounds with all that power. I never saw him box professionally, or as an amateur, but he showed me some things that helped in the ring. He gave pointers on defense. He showed me how to slip the right hand which I’ve always appreciated. He was a really special guy and I’ll never forget him.” Allen Hudson III: “Please add that he was a great father. My father was a gentle spirit. Most people who met him wouldn’t know he was a boxer. He was soft-spoken. He was the life of the party, though, who was well loved by everyone. My father used to take me everywhere. All through Long Island everyone seemed to know him. And he wasn’t Allen. Everybody called him Champ!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Jill Nossa for her brief write-up in Glen Cove Record Pilot. In lieu of money it is nice Glen Cove citizens seemed to appreciate the story. I was pleased by Allen Hudson III’s response that he learned things about his father for first time. A special note of sadness, several months after our interview, that Howard Davis Jr. succumbed of cancer, aged 59.