Professor explores unsung hero who broke racial barriers in the world of boxing
Professor explores unsung hero who broke racial barriers in the world of boxing

As part of Black History month, The College of Public Policy turns the spotlight of a boxer from San Antonio, Texas who fought discrimination and segregation during an era in which black boxers were not allowed to fight white boxers in the state of Texas.

I.H. “Sporty” Harvey became the first African-American boxer to legally oppose a white fighter in a Texas bout.  Dr. Francine Sanders Romero, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the UTSA College of Public Policy, wrote an article about this underrated hero.  The article was published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, July 2004 issue.  The article titled “‘There are Only White Champions’:  The Rise and Demise of Segregated Boxing in Texas,” describes the inspiring and heroic action by “Sporty” Harvey to challenge a discriminatory law that denied Harvey the chance to win a championship and earn more money by fighting a white man.  The claim was denied in District Court, but Harvey continued to fight and ultimately won the case in the Texas Court of Civic Appeals in November of 1954. The statute of non-interracial boxing was struck down.  This opened the door for all African-American boxers in Texas to schedule bouts with whites.  Four years later, this precedent was relied upon by the U.S. District Court in Louisiana to strike down that state’s barriers on interracial boxing as well.

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