Ezzard Mack Charles (July 7, 1921 – May 28, 1975) was an African-American professional boxer and former world heavyweight champion.
He was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but is commonly thought of as a Cincinnatian. Charles graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati where he was already becoming a well-known fighter. Known as "The Cincinnati Cobra," Charles is best remembered for his wins as a heavyweight, but most experts feel he was in his prime as a light heavyweight. Although he never won the championship at that weight, Ring magazine has rated him as the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
Charles turned professional in 1940. He served in the U.S. military during World War II, which prevented him from fighting in 1944 and 1945. He returned to boxing after the war, and hit his prime. He defeated the great light-heavyweight Archie Moore three times, once by knock out, and also defeated all time greats in Charley Burley and Joey Maxim. Shortly after his knock-out of Moore, tragedy struck. Charles fought a tough, young boxer named Sam Baroudi, knocking him out. Baroudi died of the injuries he sustained in this bout. Charles was so devastated he almost gave up fighting. He adapted a more cautious style afterwards, trying not to hurt his opponents.