7.09.2009

Cincinnati Link to Chicago Cemetery Scandal

Burr Oak Cemetery final resting place of Heavyweight Champ Ezzard Charles

The manager and three gravediggers at historic Burr Oak Cemetery, located outside of Chicago have been charged with desecrating more than 300 graves in a scheme going back some four years, say officials. The plan was to empty the graves and resell the plots. Full story here.

Cincinnati son and former heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles is one of many luminaries buried within the Burr Oak confines. Charles who succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease in 1975, was ranked by ESPN as the 27th greatest fighter of all time, ahead of Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Jr, Larry Holmes and Jake LaMotta.

He was preceded by Joe Louis and followed by Jersey Joe Walcott and held the title from 1949-1951.

At one point in time, Burr Oak Cemetery was the only place where Blacks could be buried in or near Chicago. Many people, including Emmett Till, the 15 year old boy who was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman, his mother, Singers Dinah Washington and Willie Dixon, among others are also interred there.

Ezzard Charles, who was a friend of my Dad's, was a graduate of Woodward High School. He fought Rocky Marciano twice in two fights that are considered classics among boxing aficionadoes.

Downtown Cincinnati has a street named Ezzard Charles Boulevard in his honor.
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