James F. Boyd, 67, boxer who won Olympic gold in 1956 Games in Australia

January 30, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Most of the awards James F. Boyd won as a light heavyweight boxer fill the living room of his Northeast Baltimore home. Among them are his Golden Gloves trophy, a military boxing statue and a regional boxer-of-the-year award.

But absent is the prize he treasured most: his Olympic gold medal.

Mr. Boyd, 67, who died Saturday of cancer at his home on Loch Raven Boulevard in Northwood, won his gold medal during the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

"I think he would like to know where it is; I think everyone would like to see that medal again," said his sister, Pattie Boyd of Baltimore, who lived with him. "He was real proud of that medal."

Mr. Boyd earned it when he defeated an Argentine fighter, but the medal disappeared in the late 1950s or early 1960s when Mr. Boyd was living in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, relatives said.

The Olympic medal was among other boxing awards that Mr. Boyd won and misplaced once he retired from boxing in the early 1960s.

"He wasn't bragging or showing off his medals, but he kept them all together and somehow they got lost," said another sister, Ruth Fowlkes of Baltimore. "It was very special to him, and I'd like to see it again."

Born in Rocky Mount, N.C., Mr. Boyd joined the Army in 1947 and learned to box while stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. He fought in countless matches during a 10-year military career and seldom lost.

"He was real quick, but he had a lot of power, too," said Jesse "Booker" Williams, a longtime friend. "I guess his greatest punch was his right hand, but he had a tremendous left hook."

At 26, Mr. Boyd qualified for the 1956 Olympics and won three Olympic matches en route to the gold medal. Instead of immediately turning professional after the Olympics, he re-enlisted for another year in the Army before embarking on a boxing career.

As a pro, Mr. Boyd was managed and trained by Cus D'Amato, the famed boxing aficionado who later would train heavyweight Mike Tyson.

But at the time he trained Mr. Boyd, he also managed and trained the more flamboyant Floyd Patterson, who then was also an aspiring light heavyweight. Mr. Boyd felt his manager showed favoritism toward Mr. Patterson, friends and relatives said.

"One of the reasons he retired was because he couldn't get any good fights," Mr. Williams said. "All of the good fights went to Patterson."

Mr. Williams also said that Mr. D'Amato wouldn't let his two boxers fight because he was afraid Mr. Boyd would win.

Mr. Boyd moved to Baltimore in the early 1960s and began working as a nursing assistant at the Veterans Administration Hospital, then located in Northeast Baltimore. He retired last year.

Friends said he briefly coached and trained other fighters in addition to his job at the hospital. But boxing was always in his blood.

"He was probably one fighter who never really got his due," said Darnell Washington, a fight fan and former boxer. "For someone to have achieved what he did and not be a household name, it's ridiculous. He was one great fighter."

Services were held yesterday. Other survivors include two sisters, Sarah Boyd of Philadelphia and Jacqueline Boyd of Washington, D.C.

Pub Date: 1/30/97

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