First black man to legally fight white boxer dies at 71
Jun. 10, 1997
DALLAS (AP) _ I.H. ``Sporty'' Harvey, who won a lengthy court battle for the right to become the first black boxer to legally face a white fighter in Texas, is dead at the age of 71.
Relatives said Harvey, who died Thursday in Los Angeles, where he lived for 40 years, had suffered from heart disease.
He will be buried in San Antonio this week, 42 years after the state appeals court ruling that paved the way for his 10-round main event against Buddy Turman.
His widow, Hazel Lee Harvey, 65, said Monday that her husband was disappointed at losing the pioneering interracial bout to Turman on Feb. 24, 1955.
``He said afterward, `The only thing I know is that I did my best, I thought I put up a good fight,''' said Mrs. Harvey. ``He was mostly proud that he broke the color line in Texas.''
Harvey went down for the count after Turman punched him on the chin, said Jim Woodruff, a sports writer who covered the fight for the Dallas Times Herald.
Harvey had fought other black boxers in Texas and also had boxed in Mexico. But there was more money and prestige in this country in interracial bouts, which Texas law prohibited.
He tried to get an interracial booking in the early 1950s. His lawyer, Maury Maverick Jr., eventually sued the state to block enforcement of the state's prohibition; he lost at trial but won on appeal in 1954.