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Ernie Terrell

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Information about Ernie Terrell

Profile image of Ernie Terrell

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer
Boxer
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Dark Colors
Favorite Food:
Succotash
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Favorite Quote:
This Guy Told Me That You Told Him Something I Told You Not To Tell Him.

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1939
Birth Location:
Belzoni, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer
Boxer
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Dark Colors
Favorite Food:
Succotash
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Favorite Quote:
This Guy Told Me That You Told Him Something I Told You Not To Tell Him.

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1939
Birth Location:
Belzoni
See how Ernie Terrell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Heavyweight boxer and entertainer Ernest Terrell was born on April 4, 1939 in Belzoni, Mississippi. This tall and lanky athlete retired from the profession after 15 years of fighting with a record of 46 wins - 21 of which were knockouts - and only nine losses.

Terrell began boxing professionally in 1957 and simultaneously launched a popular singing group in Chicago with his sister, Jean Terrell, who later replaced Diana Ross with the Supremes. During his first year of boxing, he won all five of his fights, knocking out three of his opponents. He continued to excel, winning fight after fight over the next several years. Terrell also continued to perform with his musical group, Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights.

After the World Boxing Association stripped Muhammad Ali of his title as heavyweight champion in 1965, Terrell finally got a chance for the label. He defeated Eddie Machen for the vacant title and retained it until February 6, 1967. That day, he fought in his most famous match against Muhammad Ali in Houston, Texas and lost after 15 grueling rounds. Ali, who had changed his name from Cassius Clay after converting to Islam, took offense to Terrell using his "slave name" and repeatedly shouted, "What's my name?" throughout the match. Terrell lost his two remaining fights that year and announced his retirement in December. However, he returned to the ring two years later, beating Sonny Moore on December 15 in 10 rounds. Terrell continued to win his matches, and on June 23, 1973, he earned another shot at becoming a heavyweight champion. However, Chuck Wepner defeated him in 12 rounds in an extremely controversial decision. Terrell boxed in his last fight on September 23 of that year.

After retiring permanently from boxing, Terrell became a music producer in Chicago. Terrell also had a brief stint in politics when he lost the 1987 election for alderman of Chicago's 34th ward. In October of 2004, he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Terrell passed away in December of 2014 at age 75.

Ernie Terrell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 25, 2002.

See how Ernie Terrell is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernie Terrell's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell describes his family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernie Terrell talks about his family's move from Inverness, Mississippi to Belzoni, Mississippi in 1941
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernie Terrell describes the struggle of owning land as a black family in Mississippi in the 1940s
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernie Terrell talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1953 from Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernie Terrell talks about his childhood in segregated Inverness, Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernie Terrell talks about living near a prisoner of war camp in Belzoni, Mississippi during World War II
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernie Terrell describes the racism he experienced growing up in Mississippi in the 1940s
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernie Terrell talks about what he enjoyed in his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernie Terrell describes a racist incident at a carnival during his childhood in Belzoni, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell describes the black community in Missisippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell talks about his family's move to Chicago, Illinois to pursue better economic opportunities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernie Terrell describes adjusting to school at Barnard Elementary School and Farragut High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernie Terrell talks about boxing as a youth and winning the Golden Gloves tournament
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernie Terrell describes how his height helped him in his boxing career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernie Terrell describes his boxing training during high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernie Terrell talks about playing the guitar during high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernie Terrell describes the beginning of his singing career in the 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell describes touring around North America with the success of his singing and boxing career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell describes his and his sister's, the Supreme's Jean Terrell, music style
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernie Terrell describes his singing career taking off in the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernie Terrell talks about meeting Berry Gordy and his sister, Jean Terrell, becoming lead singer of the Supremes in 1970, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernie Terrell talks about meeting Berry Gordy and his sister, Jean Terrell, becoming lead singer of the Supremes in 1970, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernie Terrell describes receiving death threats due to his manager's mob ties
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernie Terrell talks about his boxing style
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ernie Terrell talks about the boxers he fought on his way to becoming World Boxing Association Champion in 1965
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ernie Terrell talks about his peers in the World Boxing Association
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell describes becoming World Boxing Association Heavyweight Champion in 1965
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell talks about his relationship with Joe Louis and Ezzard Charles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ernie Terrell describes negotiating with Muhammad Ali and boxing promoters before his 1967 fight with Ali
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ernie Terrell describes the antagonism between him and Muhammad Ali leading up to their 1967 fight, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ernie Terrell describes the antagonism between him and Muhammad Ali leading up to their 1967 fight, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ernie Terrell talks about preforming at Thule Air Base in Greenland with his sister, Jean Terrell
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ernie Terrell describes losing unfairly to Chuck Wepner in 1973
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ernie Terrell talks about retiring from boxing in 1973
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ernie Terrell talks about his promoting boxing after retiring from boxing in 1973
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell describes what makes a good promoter
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell reflects on the top boxers currently and the changing interest in boxing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ernie Terrell describes his hopes and concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ernie Terrell talks about his family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ernie Terrell describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ernie Terrell talks about his parents' reaction to his and his sister's, Jean Terrell, success
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ernie Terrell talks about his mother
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ernie Terrell narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ernie Terrell narrates his photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ernie Terrell narrates his photographs, pt. 3
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ernie Terrell narrates his photographs, pt. 4