FROM THE PUBLISHER LISA FIGUEREDO| PUBLISHER@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM
As Tampa braces itself for Super Bowl XLIII- the parties, the celebrities, the halftime show, the national television exposure and, oh yeah, the game - we wanted to share a bit of Tampa's own sports history. In past issues, we've explored our storied connection to baseball so, this time, local writer Joe Harless digs into the world of boxing. As it turns out, boxing has thrived in Tampa for over a hundred Lisa M. Figueredo years. Harless takes us from ringside at Founder & Publisher the Cuban Club to fight night at the Armory in the 1950s to an out-of-the-way warehouse gym on the fringes of today's Ybor City. In preparation for February's sports spectacle, perhaps some perspective is in order. Back in the 1920s, when professional football was more spectacle than sport, promoters like Charles Pyle The P.T. Barnum of Sports- led Red Grange's Chicago Bears on multi-city â€œbarnstorming tours,â€? bringing football to towns and cities across America much like a circus or a traveling tent revival. In an excerpt from his newly released book, The Galloping Ghost, author Gary Andrew Poole takes us on tour with Grange and the Bears in 1925 as they traveled by train to Florida, playing games in Coral Gables, Jacksonville, and, on New Years Day 1926, Tampa. Sticking with the pigskin, and much to the chagrin of local University of Florida alums, Wes Singletary documents the beginnings of Florida State's football program. However, in an attempt to save myself from having to sort through hundreds of emails from angry Gator fans, we've included a little something for them, too. Finally, as the glow of Super Bowl fades, we also want to remind our readers that February is Black History Month. Florida has played a significant role in African American history. Esteban, or Estevanico, the first African to set foot in North America, landed in Tampa Bay with Spanish Explorer Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527. Since then African Americans have struggled, sacrificed and succeeded, all the while contributing mightily to our rich local history. The Buffalo Soldiers is but one of many stories that we could have told. So, as the country opens a new chapter on African American history with the inauguration of President-elect Barak Obama, contributor Kim Difalco shares one chapter of that story set right here in Tampa. See you around the City!
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Above: Boxer Tony Leto Below: 1947 Florida State Seminoles
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 LISA M. FIGUEREDO PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER
Art & Photography Contributors
Hillsborough County Public Library Tampa Bay History Center The Florida State Archives The Tampa Tribune University of South Florida Department of Special Collections Ybor City Museum Society Cigar City Magazine’s Event Photographer, David Capote
On The Cover
The 1947 Florida State Football Seminoles
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The Galloping Ghost Fight Night in Tampa Birth of a College Football Dynasty Buffolo Soldiers The 1933 Florida Gators
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Cigar Label History Lost Landmarks
Thompson Cigar was founded in Key West, Florida, in 1915 before moving to Tampa in the 1920s. Their factory was located at 200 North Edison Street in Hyde Park. The Empress of Cuba brand, which was copyrighted in 1946, is still in production today.
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he bears were exchanging the brutal Midwest winter for palm trees. The second leg, the southern swing, of the barnstorming tour had begun. Thirty players, managers, coaches, trainers, and hangers-on were in the Floridian, escaping a raging snowstorm. Wanting to make amends, Charlie had scheduled fewer games, provided two sets of jerseys, and booked first-class accommodations on the Pullman. Despite the more livable conditions, Red was still ignoring the signs from his most important asset, his body. He convinced himself he was ready to go again; the ten days' rest, along with daily treatments under powerful heat lamps, had softened Red's arm. The warmer climes would cure him, too, he hoped. Realistically, he needed at least three months to heal. No one was discouraging him from playing. Certainly not George Halas, who was actually making money for once and could feel the momentum of the public shift every time Red Grange stepped on the field alongside his Bears. And Charlie guaranteed that the second part of the barnstorming tour would be like a vacation. And it was in this way, the buzz saw of Red's popularity pushing them, that Red and Charlie went forward. The first stop would be Coral Gables, Florida, where they would play on December 25, 1925. Charlie had tried to get even more games. They were supposed to have a few contests in the South - Georgia, Alabama, maybe even Cuba - but no one in those states or the island nation could come up with the money. Promoters were always coming to Charlie and promising that they would give him a percentage of the gate, but Charlie wanted his cash up front. He was very particular on this matter. The newspapermen made note of it and started calling Charlie “Cold Cash” Pyle, or “Cash 'n' Carry” Pyle, a moniker that he loved. “Little do they know,” Charlie told Liberty magazine, “how they flatter me.” Well, the Coral Gables people did come up with some money, so “Red Grange's Chicago Bears” would have a relaxing three-thousand-mile trip south where they would play on Christmas, then go to Tampa and Jacksonville (if those two communities came up with the cold cash), and then swing over to New Orleans, up to Los Angeles, Frisco, Portland, and Seattle. Along with some additional acolytes and Clem, the porter, who would serve the Bears the entire journey, Halas and Pyle signed some more players. They were trying to make the second leg less of a torture fest, and Red's presence was attracting existing pros as well as college stars. They brought in Roy Lyman, Nebraska tackle, who had played with the Cleveland and Philadelphia pro teams; Richard “Dutch” Vick, former Michigan quarterback and more recently a member of the Detroit Panther eleven; and Harold “Swede” Erickson, former Washington and Jefferson back and a dandy passer who starred with the Chicago Cardinals. Michigan's Paul Goebel, a six-foot-five All-American, captain of the 1922 Wolverines, was charged with blowing open the ends for Grange. “He came across as somewhat austere and intimidating but he was a true gentle giant,” recalled his granddaughter Meg Goebel. Goebel was an excellent teammate - Michigan great Bennie Oosterbaan said “He always thought twice before doing anything for himself” - and the tall Teuton could buckle the knees of the opposition. In the first leg of the tour, Goebel played for Columbus and he had been so dominant that the Bears avoided his side of the line the entire game. Years later
the blue-eyed Paul, who had served in World War I, would reenlist for World War II, earning the Bronze Star.
n Coral Gables, Grange experienced the insanity of the 1920s land rush. “Don't go to Florida,” he would later warn friends, “even if you are invited on an excursion with all expenses paid and free money in your pocket.” The Midwest seemed to be descending en masse on the Florida swamps. The Bears went to the field where they could smell the bare earth and freshly sawed planks. But where were the stands? Within forty-eight hours, workers constructed the bleachers for twenty-five thousand seats of a makeshift stadium. Pyle priced 50-yard-line box seats at $19.80, and he had plenty of takers. The players' heavy boots, once wet from tramping in the mud, were now light and cracking, their uniform sweaters clean. Paul Goebel played his typical he-man game, destroying the opposing end and letting Grange get off his flying runs. The Galloping Ghost's touchdown came in the second period, when, after a 33yard sprint around end, he was given the ball on the 2-yard line and in two attempts went through center for the score. Grange played three full periods, and in the closing moments he gave the crowd another thriller, racing 45 yards, and had eluded the Coral Gables barrier when Red Barron, former Georgia Tech star, pulled him down. The Bears beat the Coral Gables Collegians 7-0. Red seemed to be back in form; at least there were moments when people were offered a glimpse of his excellence. But underneath it all his athletic ability wasn't the same. It was an experiment gone wrong. Red always had great vision on the field. He could detect the future movements of all the players. He still had the vision but he wasn't always reacting quite as quickly because he had played eleven pro games in thirty days. Before the barnstorming tour he had played a seven-game college schedule. Red had played eighteen games over a three-month period. He played offense and defense, and he took the brunt of the cheap shots. He still had eight games to go. On New Year's Day the Bears faced off in Tampa against Jim Thorpe, one of America's greatest athletes. Thorpe, a Sac and Fox Indian, was an Olympic gold medalist in the pentathlon and decathlon, played major league baseball, and starred in college and professional football, perhaps his greatest sport. Thorpe's trainwreck speed once mowed over Dwight Eisenhower, inflicting the future president with a knee injury. Thorpe was one of the founding fathers of professional football, its first attraction, and the league's inaugural president. He had even been in the Canton Hupmobile showroom in 1920 when the league was formed and helped give the league some credibility. But Thorpe was unfairly tainted. He had violated his amateur status by playing minor league baseball to earn a little pocket money and as a result had to surrender his track medals from the 1912 Olympic Games. Thorpe was a draw, but he was an Indian and all that that meant to the wider American public, and Thorpe never had a C. C. Pyle in his corner. About Thorpe the Pittsburgh Dispatch once reported: “This person Thorpe was a host in himself. Tall and sinewy, as quick as a fl ash and as powerful as a turbine engine, he appeared to be impervious to injury.” Thorpe still JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009
there was a horserace named the Red Grange Handicap, and the Ghost went to the Boys' Commercial High School, where Grange must have been hung over to give such a lame speech: “There is only one way I know to become an athlete. Get lots of sleep and live a normal regular healthy life. Keep away from the bright lights and eat plain food. Don't eat too much meat. Any vegetable is good. Spinach and potatoes are excellent. Chew the food well. Don't be a loafer on the street.” His legs were tired but Red was making a serious run for financial security. He might never have to work again. There was nothing to do but play the games and collect the checks. But sometimes Red's insecurity would escape. He blurted defensively at one reporter that in two years, “I'll he Bears were scheduled to have enough so I can say when play the Jacksonville All-Stars I'll work and where I'll work and on January 2, 1926, but Charlie work at what I want,” and he and the town elders were playing added that offi cers in a chicken. The Jacksonville fellows Champaign bank were investing had come to Charlie with a proposhis money in Liberty bonds, and al. They wanted to hype their town, that his income from his investmaybe even start a pro team in their ments “was several hundred dolcommunity where the land rush lars a month.” had started to sputter because of a There was tension. Charlie lack of new buyers. (Charles Ponzi, had a temper and he didn't mind of Ponzi Scheme infamy, had develshowing it. During the New oped a subdivision that he claimed Red Grange and C. C. Pyle Orleans game Red went for a was near the city, even though it was sixty-fi ve miles west and had twenty-three lots to the acre; Red long run, which was called back because of a clip. Charlie was on and Charlie would each throw $17 grand into the Florida real the sideline and he was stomping up and down, screaming at the estate boom - and lose it.) John S. O'Brien, a Jacksonville booster, umpire. The people wanted to see Red do well and it was the refpersuaded the Times-Union to publicize the game and hundreds eree's job to make sure that happened. A clip! Charlie had done of athletes showed up for tryouts. They needed a draw so they this before. He was a hothead. He started screaming and the Bears contacted Ernie Nevers, Stanford University's star fullback, who, got riled up. The cheap shots started flying. Trafton's leg was torn reading about the jack Grange was earning, requested $25,000 from ankle to thigh. Charlie was incensed. (His employees were plus 5 percent of the gross gate receipts. (Among football players getting injured, after all.) Halas couldn't control the situation. It Grange was creating exciting opportunities to make money, and was Charlie's team. A brawl started. It intensifi ed to the point players were starting to reconsider the pro game.) The promoters that a mounted policeman galloped onto the fi eld to break it up. went house to house to raise the funds. The nonstar players “Here comes one of the Four Horsemen,” Grange cracked. would make $200 for playing in the game. The quality of football Luckily these types of incidents didn't make it into the nation's on the tour was up and down. The Bears were damaged and their papers. The writers didn't like to criticize Red too much. He had opponents were often eager but lacked playing time together. become untouchable. A primitive god. In Red's heart he knew it “Nevers, captain, fired the trainer, and ignored the coach,” report- was a long, long way from the real drama and the glory of the coled Liberty magazine, which described other players - not all of lege gridiron. whom had the bonafides - jumping on the Grange football bandwagon. “Willie Gruber, who claimed the Oregon Aggies as his oing to the Pacific Northwest for the farewell games was a alma mater, was rejected forthwith. Mr. Gruber was quite bald homecoming of sorts for Charlie because it had been the and slightly drunk.” The Bears won 19-6. center of his vaudeville life. As a younger man, Charlie had joined the Margarita Fischer Stock Company in Silvertown, Oregon; n January 10 the Bears played the All-Southern Stars in formed C. C. Pyle's Greater Lewis and Clark International New Orleans, the nation's second-largest port city, popula- Exposition in Moscow, Idaho; and acted in his own theater comtion 430,000, its riverbanks lined with coffee-roasting plants, the pany, always joking that Brownsville, Oregon, was the only town scent of chicory fogging the air. Red spoke at the Young Men's that egged him. In the second-to-last game of the tour, the Bears Business Club (a record four hundred young businessmen played the Portland, Oregon, All-Stars. Chicago won, 54-3 or 60showed up and Red was given a football made of pink carnations); 3 - the different reporters lost track of the score. had a regal presence from the faraway stands and on the fi eld he was a relentless trash talker - “Let's give 'em a show, let ol' Jim run” - and if a tackler didn't let him by he would drive his hip and shoulder into him, often knocking men cold, once demolishing Knute Rockne in a charity game. But Thorpe was almost forty and on the downside. Age and drink were hobbling him, and he was getting cut from every legitimate team he tried out for. Jim, probably the greatest athlete of all time, was becoming a novelty act. Grange would never have Thorpe's world-class speed and he was tired. But on one of Grange's touchdown runs, he bowled over the cirrhotic Thorpe. It was now Grange's world.
Wheaton College archives and Special Collections
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n January 31, the day after the Portland contest, Red Grange and the Bears played their final barnstorming exhibition against George Wilson's Washington All-Stars. At the pregame luncheon honoring the Ghost and Wildcat Wilson, Charlie - tongue firmly in cheek - insisted to Seattle's Young Men's Business Club that he had made no overtures to sign Wilson to a professional contract. The crowd roared. Charlie Pyle, that sly fellow, was up to something. In the waning days of the tour, with his trainload of cash, Pyle could finally execute his next move. He was in a beautiful position, the money and fame creating substantial power. Red and Charlie had signed a three-year exclusive contract. Charlie Pyle didn't need George Halas and the Chicago Bears. Hell, he didn't need the National Football League. In Seattle the Bears won 34-0, with Grange carrying the mail nine times for 99 yards, an average of 11 yards a try. He threw one 30-yard pass, which resulted in a touchdown. He ran for two more, dashing 30 yards for each. With eighteen touchdowns during the course of the barnstorming campaign, Grange had been spectacular - in spurts - enough to keep the crowds interested. No one, of course, could have played great at that pace, and most people just wanted a glimpse of him. Sixty-seven days, nineteen games. Red had also played a college season before the tour, and there hadn't been much sleep between with the rattling trains, the boisterous teammates, the countless luncheons, speeches to business groups, theater outings, the whiskey, the flappers . . . America had followed the tour in the sports pages, and when Grange came to town, the papers chronicled his every move. In retrospect the journey had been a thrill, but for Red it had also been a drab, sometimes spooky trip through Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Jacksonville, Tampa, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and the little villages in between, the gangly children, the needy eyes, the jealous shouts of “You yellow bum!” any time Red didn't perform well. Red was permanently in their consciousness - a human embodying supernatural gifts - and that aura had become a part of professional football. Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed greatness; millions more had read about Grange's feats. Only a few months earlier pro ball had been seen as a laughingstock, faintly criminal, or just not very interesting. Now it had lore, glamour, and excitement. The sum of him. His reputation wider, but cheaper. Pyle told the press that the trip had been “very successful”; in money terms that meant that Pyle and Grange each, after expenses, made at least $100,000 on the games with a lot more coming in for endorsements, probably $300,000 each in total (or $3.42 million in modern times, according to the Consumer Price Index) in an era when athletes were not highly compensated. A lot of money for a few months' work, and there was more money to come. Grange would soon sign a lucrative movie contract, which would put his image into even more minds and even more cash into his pockets. George Halas had done OK, too. He could probably buy some more extra jerseys, footballs, and even tape, and his team was now the most watched pro gridiron team in the nation.
Can you identify this Lost Landmark?
This wood frame structure was located in West Tampa. Can you identify it? You can win a Cigar City Magazine t-shirt by correctly identifying this landmark. Simply mail the answer and your contact information to Cigar City Magazine at P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 by February 1, 2008. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck! Previous Lost Landmark: The Bayview Hotel From our winner, Rita Diaz from Tampa My Father, Gabriel Ramental, had a hat shop around the corner on Tampa Street. I grew up downtown as my mother helped him in the shop. I love Tampa and enjoy your magazine.
Excerpted from THE GALLOPING GHOST by Gary Andrew Poole, copyright © 2008. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Amature Boxing at the Palma Cia Boys Arena, May 4th 1928.
ravel down 7th Avenue in Ybor City far enough and eventually you'll come to a rough looking neighborhood by the train tracks. The warehouses in the area stand empty and a few convenience stores pop up every couple of miles. The grass needs cutting, the bushes need trimming and some of the low-slung buildings need to either be demolished or rehabbed. As the sun goes down, a converted warehouse right next to the tracks still has several cars parked outside. The roar of a passing train mutes the sound of the cars traveling on the nearby highway. Stand on the loading dock and you can wave at the train's passengers as they glide by. Step inside the warehouse, however, and you're in an altogether different place. This is the Hurricane Boxing Gym. Down a ramp and in the back of the building, the interior has been converted to house a ring, heavy bags, speed bags and a weight room. While rap music blares through a radio, a group of men dart in and out of a line of heavy bags, their gloves smacking the canvas with loud crashes that reverberate through the room. A young boxer spars with his reflection in the mirror and in the ring a trainer wearing hand 10
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pads circles another boxer as he yells encouragement and advice with each punch. On the surface, these could be the sights and sounds of any of a hundred upscale gyms that offer aerobic boxing classes. But this is a true boxing gym, and to amateur boxer James Chittenden, that elevates it into something much more profound than your average YMCA. “Entering boxing is like entering a religion,” James Chittenden explains, leaning from left to right to loosen up. “They do it to make a life improvement and they find themselves falling in love with it and they stay for the right reasons. Fellas find out the sport offers conditioning and camaraderie and they do quite well.” A young man walks out from behind the ring pulling heavy gloves onto his hands. Still stretching, Chittenden calls out to him as he makes his way over. “Hey, Biscuit!” Chittenden says. “How long have we been sparring?” Biscuit, real name Robert Carr, chews his lip for a moment. “Two years, I think,” he says, then shrugs at the thought. “You get in, you get hooked.”
“We hit just as hard as we can.” says Adella Suarez (above), youthful president of the Tampania Boxing club, recently organized by a group of school girls. In describing fight technique, the younger boxer is a little uncertain, but insists stoutly that “anyway, we know how to do it!”
oxing in Tampa has a rich and storied history. When cigar makers Vicente Martinez Ybor and Ignacio Haya first moved their cigar factories from Key West to Tampa, Italian, Cuban and Spanish workers folThe closeness of the lowed. cultures helped breed a passion for the sport, and before long boxing matches became as common and popular as the local Bolita number game. Club fights soon became a weekly fixture in the city. When baseball was still America's favorite game, boxing became a second passion for many of the families living and working in Ybor City and West Tampa. As authors Gary R. Mormino and George E. Pozzetta pointed out in their book The Immigrant World of Ybor City, baseball often required Latins to subordinate individual values to the interests of the team. Boxing, by comparison, allowed participants to achieve material success and remain rooted in their own culture and communities. As a result, boxing became a way for many new immigrants and second-generation Americans to climb towards the American Dream while maintaining their cultural roots.
The smile of victory that marked Young Manuel’s face after his win over Relampago Saguero, Cuban junior welter. In a torrid 10-round bout at George Kennedy’s Benjamin field arena.
nterest in boxing was not limited strictly to men, either. Tampa area resident Adella Suarez made news in 1929 by starting a boxing club for women in Hillsborough County after, as she put it, “a spat between friends culminated in a boxing match.” A story from the Tampa Tribune includes a photo of Suarez, with boxing gloves on in a fighter's pose with her hair tied up in a bun, menacing the camera man. She claimed her hardest fight was against her friend Nancy Lewis. During that fight, Suarez knocked Lewis down six times but she never succeeded in knocking her out. “She always got up,” Suarez said, managing to sound frustrated even in newsprint.
he Cuban Club still stands in Ybor City, an historic landmark still much in use today. Now standing next to Hillsborough Community College, the building serves as a northern gate to Ybor City. Back in its heyday, the club boasted a 2,000-seat boxing arena and training complex for anyone wanting to learn. The club hosted fights every Monday night from the 1920s through the 1940s. The fighters that did well had the potential to move on to Benjamin Field Arena, where fans would follow to watch their favorite fighters.
It was at the Cuban Club that Ferdie Pacheco, Mohammed Ali's former ring doctor and a state treasure for his Renaissance Man qualities, first came into contact with the sport. “My first experience with boxing was at the Cuban Club,” Pacheco, an Ybor native, said. “That was my first time seeing a boxer up close. Watching them skip rope, get their hands taped up was heaven.” Pacheco's history with boxing extends for most of the 20th century. His stories include working with Ali in Miami and watching Tampa boxer Danny Nardico bulldoze Jake “Raging Bull” Lamotta.
ne of his best stories involves himself, Tampa's Columbia Restaurant and Jack Dempsey. When he was 10, Pacheco's father came home from work early, dressed his son up in a suit and took him to the restaurant where he met the champion boxer who had come into town for a visit. When Pacheco first saw Dempsey, the champ had just finished his meal at the Columbia. Dempsey smiled, shook Pacheco's hand, then picked him up and set the boy in his lap for the remainder of his visit. “Talking to the athletes was a thrill,” Pacheco said of the memory. The sports section of the Tampa Times covered the fights with the same enthusiasm that modern papers use when covering football in the fall. A cartoon of two fighters, one slugging the other with a comical uppercut, stood at the top of the page with the box results of the previous night's fights. The Tampa Times hyped big matches with front-page stories about the featured fighters. In the first match at Benjamin Field Arena, the front page for the March 5th edition of the paper features a large photo of two fighters, Rocky Kansas and Freddie Jacks, as they prepare for the following night's match. Another one shows undercard fighters Frankie Gardini and Jakie Mellman preparing for their fight. JANUARY/FEBRUARY
“Both these lads are very clever with the mitts and carries the sleep producer in either hand,” the article states. Other fights got full press coverage for events other than the boxing match. A fight between Tony Leto and Eddie Flynn boiled over when Flynn beat Leto on a decision by a foul. The fans, unhappy with the referee's call, acted out their frustration by starting a riot that overflowed out of the arena and spilled onto streets and the fighters' respective dressing rooms before peace could be restored.
recounted his experiences to the press years later. “The fight I remember best was with Australian champion Jack Carroll, although I lost,” Jimmy wrote in the July 4, 1962 edition of the Tampa Times. “I liked Australia and evidently they liked the way I fought, although their style of boxing was strange. We were no sooner back in the United States after the first trip when we got a telegram making us a good offer to return. We were fighting as part of one of Australia's anniversary celebrations and there was a huge crowd. Carroll was so tall the
seem stranger in hindsight. “I figure one of the greatest achievements, as far as ability was concerned, was when Gomez downed Tony Musto in the first round of a fight here in Tampa,” Joe told a Tampa Times reporter in 1962. “Musto had fought Joe Louis not long before [the fight with Gomez]. Louis did not even knock him down and Tommy belted him out in one round. They had a referee down here to protect their fighter and he didn't even get to work. It didn't do them any good because Tommy knocked him out in a hurry.” “With a puncher like Gomez, you only had to remind him to be careful and take his shot when he saw the opportunity. The pay for going one round is as much as it is for going 10.”
lynn, a Tampa fighter originally from New Orleans, later faced off with Albert Leon. At the time, their fight drew much attention from the local press as many reporters had already called the fight a shoe-in for Leon after news had spread that Flynn n more recent years, the drive for was severely out of shape. Flynn professional boxing in Tampa has responded by training so intensely that become a hit-or-miss proposition. a reporter noted he had never seen While the passion for the sport him look better. Having won over the remains, professional boxing never press, Flynn stepped into the ring the really became synonymous with night of the fight ready to prove everyTampa the same way it did with Las body wrong. Vegas and New York City. As the bell sounded, Flynn flew at “This is a boxing town,” Phil Leon and began pummeling the man. Leon, cherubic and shorter than his The Cuban Club in Ybor City hosted fights and maintained a gym for its members. This Alessi, owner of Alessi Bakeries and opponent, went staggering back from photo, from the 1920s, shows a boxing ring set up behind the clubhouse. The club hosted a fight promoter, said. “You have to fights every Monday night from the 1920s until the beginning of World War II. give them a reason to cheer. Flynn's onslaught but recovered in the Incentive makes all the difference.” second round and began to wear Working with Pacheco, a boxing comFlynn down with a series of well-aimed body only thing I could do was go underneath him. blows. Leon proceeded to slowly turn the color I knocked him down with a left hook. I would mentator with NBC at the time, Alessi helped of Flynn's skin from pink to a blood-red smear, go under and then step to one side. That is bring boxing to Tampa. “Our peak was probably in the early 90s,” but Flynn would not go down. when I would hit him. It seems that I had to Finally, in the seventh round, with Flynn jump to get him. It surprised both of us. They Alessi recalled. “A lot of people were looking at still absorbing the body blows, Leon hit him gave him the decision after I had him down a us back then. It brought a lot of exposure to with a right uppercut that catapulted Flynn to couple of times. Carroll was down in the 14th the area and we kept growing. Everybody wantthe canvas, ending the match. Even as they cel- and 15th rounds. He went to the hospital but ed to be a part of it.” Interest in professional boxing appeared ebrated Leon's victory, the press offered praise still got the decision.” to Flynn for his effort, noting that the man Boxing was sidelined during World War to die down after that, but, in March of 2004, who had gone into the ring to face Leon had II. Tony, who had already stopped fighting and St. Petersburg fighter Ronald “Winky” Wright been “the greatest edition of Flynn that ever had worked as a butcher, merchant seaman beat “Sugar” Shane Mosley to claim the WBC came in the American ring.” and a pipe-fitter, went to work in the shipyards and WBA titles. Wright's win, along with the Tampa also boasted a family that became while Jimmy served as a gunner's mate on the rise in popularity of Antonio Tarver and Jeff synonymous with boxing. Referred to Tampa's cruiser Vicksburg. Both would later start fami- Lacy, suddenly brought professional boxing back to Tampa's forefront. “Boxing Family”, the Leto brothers made lies. “I shocked a lot of people who didn't headlines as boxers and trainers. Tony and Joe managed and had a hand in developJimmy both fought, Tony as a flyweight, ban- ing some of the best fighters in the area, believe in me,” Wright told the St. Petersburg tamweight and featherweight, while Jimmy including Chino Alvarez, Carl Guggino and Times in 2004, seven months after his first competed first as a featherweight before Tommy Gomez, who fought more than 80 fight with Mosley. “Don't down us just switching to lightweight. matches in his time. Billed at first as the because we're from Tampa or St. Petersburg.” Jimmy's boxing career was the most color- “Battling Bellboy” because of his day job at a “When Winky fought, the arena was packed,” ful of the three. Ranked by the National local hotel, Gomez petitioned Joe Leto for Will Velez, owner of the Hurricane Gym, said. Boxing Association in 1933 as a lightweight, months to be his trainer before Joe agreed. “It looked like a [Tampa Bay] Lightning hockey Jimmy traveled the globe to participate in Later, after both men had retired, Joe admit- game in there.” fights. He spent a fair amount of time in ted that he initially had doubts about working Australia, traveling there twice for fights, and with Gomez, but thinking on it only made it
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Pictured in the center of the poster is Tommy Gomez known as “Tampa Tommy.” Tommy was born in Port Tampa and had a career record of 76 and 9 with 66 KO's and 2 draws as a heavyweight under the management of Joe Leto. Tommy, who was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in World War II, passed away in 2006.
Tony Leto went 71 and 23 with 7 draws and 22 KO's between 1925 and 1934.
Tampa was New Orleans native Eddie Flynn's second home. A 1932 Olympic gold medalist, Flynn was considered a “Tampa Boy” having fought both professionally and as an amateur throughout Florida and the Tampa Bay area.
Birth of a College Football Dynasty: The 1947 Florida State Football Seminoles Wes Singletary
In 1947 the United States was still regaining its peacetime balance following the most devastating war in the history of the world. There was a nervous sense of optimism, however, that that huge domestic postwar demand for consumer goods would continue to drive the bullish economy. But what if it didn't some asked? What if the economy failed? Wasn't it the war that got us out of the great depression? Now that the war is over, what guarantees are there that we will not slip back into the shape we were in? Could there be another depression, more days of 20% unemployment? And what if there is another War? War was a very real concern as news of an atomic bomb being tested in the Soviet Union was revealed and China fell to Mao's communist hordes. The Red Scare became rampant and America's response to such threats, perceived or otherwise, did little to ease its citizen's apprehensions. Harry Truman delivered a doctrine that promised to fight communism wherever it rose, whether it be in 14
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Western Europe, the Middle East or Asia. This stance proved a costly proposition, ultimately having a negative impact on the economy and further fueling a period dubbed by historians as the "Age of Anxiety." There was a great deal of change taking place in 1947 and with uncertainty came dread, trepidation and fear. Few aspects of American society were more affected by change during 1947 than Sports. Jack Roosevelt Robinson, a native of Cairo, Georgia, and a three sport letterman at UCLA had been chosen to take part in Baseball's "Great Experiment," becoming the first AfricanAmerican to join the "Lily-White" ranks of organized major league baseball during the modern era. This event took on a significant social and societal import as it represented, to an extent, a chink in the wall that Jim Crow segregation had built, serving as a precursor to the modern civil rights movement. Clearly, things would not be the same.
While this uneasiness wafted across the American landscape, it failed to dampen the enthusiasm for what was viewed as at least one positive change taking place in the red hills of North Florida. In Tallahassee the highly regarded Florida State College for Women had been reorganized as co-educational, and while some argued that "Universities do not spring into being by the simple process of legislative enactment," preparations were being made to do just that and a great sense of anticipation surrounded the venture. What stands out most from a cursory reading of the local Tallahassee paper in late 1947 is that Tallahassee was a Baseball town. The sports page of the Tallahassee Daily Democrat was devoted that fall to the local Georgia/Florida league contending Tallahassee Pirates. In September, 1947, the “Bucs” as all teams baring the Pirates moniker must be known, were the big story, finding themselves in a down to the wire race with Moultrie for the league title. After coming up short, however, late in the season to Colquitt the Bucs lost their shot at the Shaunessy trophy, awarded to the winner of a series pitting the GA/FL champ against the Florida State League's best. Tallahassee was a diamond town then, devoted to the National Pastime, if only in a backwater, low bush league kind of way. In the midst of major league baseball's final tilt that autumn, a subway series nonetheless, and as students prepared to report for classes in Tallahassee, word came that the newly organized Florida State University would field a football team that season, and within only six weeks! It wasn't possible believed some; who cares thought others. In a college football season that promised to be as competitive on the National level as it had been in many years, this Florida State upstart, or “girls school,” was going to build a program from scratch and try to run with the big dogs. While the program wouldn't be confused, at least initially, with an Army, or LSU for that matter, a vision was coming into focus. When the call for players went out, sixty-five young men showed up with another thirty-five on the way. The majority were fresh faced boys right out of high school, nary a day of intercollegiate varsity experience among them. They came from Pensacola, Chipley, Quincy and elsewhere. Some were from Tallahassee, with the Leon Lions notably represented. But there were veterans too, if not of the playing field, then the battlefield, home from a war that had placed their dreams on hold. Their hardened experiences forged leadership into these veterans, and Florida State's youthful squad would need it if they were to gel into a unit capable of competing over a rugged five game haul. It was wet that fall, storms raking Florida at every turn. One Hurricane hit southeast Florida with such force as to destroy homes and buildings 100 miles from its center, before crossing the peninsula, regrouping in the Gulf and swamping New Orleans and points east. Another tropical storm came up hurricane alley creating more havoc, trashing homes and ultimately
forcing the garnet and gold indoors for many of their initial practice sessions. The "garnet and gold," regal colors taken from the old college for woman were now set to adorn the uniforms of the developing team. But what of a name? What would this young squad of men and boys be known as? Crackers some insisted, minus the crumbs. Others urged the Golden Falcons in reference to the flight that would assuredly take place. Still some argued for the Statesman, believing that the University's proximity to the capitol should be played upon. Ultimately, however, and not before the first game, the name bestowed by a plurality of voting students was SEMINOLES. It had a ring to it, still does. Never surrender! Native in cadence, serving as a reminder of the unconquered, unbroken legacy it represents. Gradually Tallahassee warmed to it, warming to the team, the program, the whole enterprise. Excitement built as distinct fall crispness set in, filling the local mindset with thoughts of football. Leon High captured the early headlines, but more references were being made in anticipation of the Seminoles' debut. It was announced that Deland's Stetson Hatters would come to town for the initial stanza, set for the night of October 18th. Preparations were made. Lights and seating would be needed for Centennial Field, if the old baseball yard was to become hospitable for the gridiron. Fortunately, the city anted up a sum to foot the bill. With a game in sight the players drilled and drilled and drilled. They could smell it. The coaches understood the daunting challenge facing them and were determined to meet it with a prepared offensive. But there were simply too many players, focus came slowly. A cut was necessitated, players became managers, and the chosen few moved forward, eager to hit someone -anyone - from another team. Passing also proved integral and in each session the "T" formation was stressed and applied, a tradition of stretch-the-field offense taking shape. Time for practice was running thin. Six weeks turned to three, two, and one. Excitement built. The eve of the first encounter was at hand. A bonfire was stacked and burned, a snake dance shimmied and a pep rally held, all designed to energize the supporters that would sustain the boys on the following night. Yes night, night football, Saturday night fever in hot Tallahassee, the way it was meant to be and the local folks couldn't wait to get things started. Following a day that saw the Florida Gators win for the first time in thirteen tries stretching over multiple seasons (they would lose again the following week), the "untested, untried, undaunted" brand spanking new Seminoles lost a close one to Stetson, 14-6. But in the loss, the Noles played what was noted as an inspired game, winning supporters, over 7,000 of who witnessed the "hard fought" contest. Tallahassee was clearly "ready for some football." JANUARY/FEBRUARY
1947 Florida State Seminoles - Team Photo Players in no specific order: Philip Rountree, Gerald Manuel, Jack McMillan, Wendell Barnes, Harry Hughey, James Watson, James De
Cosmo, Jack Tulley, Buddy Bryant, Joe Crona, Kenneth MacLean, Al Tharpe, Charles McMillan, Ed Dilsaver, Jim Quigley, Bob Browning, Dick Williams, Leonard Gilberg, Donald Grant, Ralph Chaudron, Leonard Melton, Wesley Carter, Billy Bishop, Harold Conrad, Wyatt Parish, Ed Quigley, Bob Fegers, Dan McClure, Chris Kalfas, Jim Costello, Chris
Banakas, Bill Kratzert, David Middlebrooks, Frederick Boris, C.N. Proctor, Billy Osteen, Clyde Stanaland, Bill Fannin, Bob Lanigan, Fred Schneider, Earl Payne, Ed Morgan, Richard Brooks, J. P. Love, Truby Shaw, Bull Benz, Paul Dubelis, Charles Hospodar, Ral Wilkerson, Clice Yancey, J.E. Kinsey, B.J. Castro.
Precedents were established. The chosen first game captain, Jack Tully, a broad-shouldered guard from Leon High, won the toss and the beat began. Early in the second period, at the 24 yard-line, Don Grant faded to pass and found Charles Macmillan in the end zone for a miracle touchdown, "Touchdown Florida State," the first touchdown, but the extra point failed. Hard hitting tenacity proved a trademark and a message was sent that the garnet and gold would be accounted for. Game two at Cumberland College in Lebanon, Tennessee, proved a sloppy affair, with five interceptions thrown and seven fumbles dropped amidst a steady downpour in a 6-0 loss. The next game wasn't much better. Beginning as three touchdown dogs, the Seminoles suffered a 27-6 defeat to a much bigger and stronger, Tennessee Tech club. At 0-3, one might have questioned the morale of the players and doubted the strategies being chalked behind closed locker room doors. Could this young team keep the spirit that had sustained them to this point or would it fold? Do these coaches know what they are doing? The first half of game four seemed likely to indicate the latter. Played on Thanksgiving Day in front of a paltry home crowd, the Troy Red Wave rushed to an early 24-0 halftime lead. But the Noles, nary a turkey in the bunch, stormed out of the half determined to seize the respect it heretofore had lacked. In the third quarter, Jack Macmillan intercepted a Troy pass at the opposing 43, returning it to the 25 yard-line. Ken McLean then tossed one to Chris Banakas at the 8. Two plays later Tallahassee's Leonard Melton 16
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punched it in from the 1 - but again, the extra point failed. Troy 24, FSU 6, and that was the way the third quarter played out. Two late Troy scores secured the win, 36-6. The Noles were 0 - 4. If the first four games proved tough on the program, the final looked daunting. The Jacksonville State Gamecocks had beaten Troy 14-0 and were billed as one of the best small college teams in the South, with a record of 8-0. Making matters worse, the Seminoles lost a fumble at its own 31 yard-line during the game's opening minutes setting up a quick Jacksonville touchdown. But after that the Seminoles settled in, forcing the action on the opposing side of the field, continually threatening a Game Cocks squad that was put on the defensive. Twice Florida State advanced inside the opponents' ten yard line, only to come away empty, scoring thwarted at the one and six yard-lines respectively. In a contest ultimately marred by penalties, the Seminoles suffered an ugly 7-0 loss, finishing the season 0 - 5. Is that it? Isn't there someone else we can play, the players asked? No, their season was over. Historian Jim Jones has remarked that the inaugural tilt had been a "year of experimentation in which a group of high school athletes with no college varsity experience, and little college freshman experience, had come close to winning three contests." It was an accurate assessment, because so little was expected of this group, at least by those not involved with the program. But the Seminoles surprised everyone with their rugged play against Stetson and Jacksonville State, and lost convincingly only to Troy and Tennessee Tech. And this was
Jack Tully, team captain, in Florida Stateâ€™s first game, against Stetson.
in spite of the fact that they enjoyed no training table, poor equipment, no field of their own, and competed without scholarships - true student athletes. Yet a palpable sense of closeness was forged and as Jones wrote, "camaraderie prevailed.â€? On the eve of that first game with Stetson, a prophetic Jacksonville sports editor surmised that too much couldn't be expected of the garnet and gold, but that in time, both they and the Florida Gators, irrespective of their "doldrums," would develop teams of which all Florida could be proud. This much is fact. In the sixty-one years since the Famous 47ers laced them up for the first time, the Florida State Seminoles have become synonymous with college football success and top National rankings. During a recent stretch Florida State placed in the top four rankings a record twelve consecutive seasons, winning two national championships in the process, while playing for three others. Who would have thought it possible in 1947? Certainly no one from Ann Arbor, South Bend, Baton Rouge or West Point. What those first coaches and players began developed and blossomed into one of the most outstanding college football dynasties ever
constructed. And if history teaches anything it is that few of today's advances or joys have come without a price. There have always been forebears of one sort or another who forged ahead, pushing the limits. These Seminoles, did that and are worthy of respect.
Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry stationed in Tampa prior to the Spanish American War
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by Kimberly DeFalco
BUFFALO SOLDIERS: IMMORTAL LEGACY
They've been immortalized. In song, movies, books and most poignantly, in history's archives. The Buffalo Soldiers, African American frontiersmen revered for their combat prowess, loyalty and ferocity, left indelible patriotic marks across Tampa Bay, our nation and the world at large. Throughout America's history, black soldiers have honorably answered the call to duty, participating in military conflicts since colonial days. They were volunteers - unpaid, under-appreciated and severely discriminated against often. During the Civil War, more than 180,000 African Americans wore the Union Army blue. Another 30,000 served in the Navy and 200,000 served as workers on engineering, labor, hospital and other military support projects. More than 33,000 lost their lives for the sake of freedom and their country. After the Civil War, the United States faced a need for a large peacetime military to occupy the South and protect settlers on the Western Frontier. On July 28, 1866, U.S. Congress passed legislation to establish the first peacetime military. Before the legislation passed, a hotlycontested issue concerned the inclusion of African Americans. Many politicians wanted the peacetime military to remain white only. Eventually, opposing factions agreed to maintain the status quo. Nearly sixteen months after the end of the Civil War, â€œAn Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment of the United Statesâ€? was passed. A provision of the 1866 legislation authorized Congress to create six regiments of African American troops including four infantry and two cavalry of approximately 1,000 men each. In August, 1866, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments were born. The four infantry regiments were later reorganized to form the 24th and 25th infantry regiments. They later came to be known collectively as the Buffalo Soldiers. The 9th Cavalry was based in Greenville, Louisiana with most of the original recruits from nearby New Orleans, Louisiana and Louisville, Kentucky. The 10th Cavalry was at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Many of the recruits in both units were freed slaves from the North and veterans from service in the Civil War. Free at last from the malignant structure of slavery, African Americans were still burdened by the injustices of bigotry and discrimination. Many intended to earn their place and their fellow soldiers' respect in the new social structure of the land. The military would be their conduit. Their loyalty and quest for equality would be their platform. The assigned mission of these African American troops was to escort the Native Americans from their indigenous homeland to designated reservations in the West. Black troopers, usually under the command of white officers, marched westward for the purpose of flushing out the Indian peoples of the desert Southwest and the Great Plains, opening the land for white settlement. For over two decades, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments conducted campaigns against American Indian Tribes that extended from Montana in the Northwest to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in the Southwest.
They engaged in several skirmishes against such great Indian Chiefs as Geronimo, Victorio and Nana. Their efforts were aligned to bring law and order to the West while building railroads and forts. The troops installed telegraph lines, located water holes, escorted wagon trains and cattle drives and protected settlers from renegade Indians, outlaws and Mexican revolutionaries. They were given the worst horses and the oldest uniforms, sent to the most severe places and received the lowest pay. History presents variations on the origin of the nickname buffalo soldier. The most recognized theory is that buffalo soldier was bestowed on the troops by the Cheyenne warriors in 1867. The Indians apparently identified the troopers' dark skin and tenacious spirit with the iconic animal of the plains. The actual Cheyenne translation was Wild Buffalo and was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry. Over time, Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African American soldiers. The troopers bore their name with pride and as a mark of distinction. At least 18 Medals of Honor were presented to Buffalo Soldiers during the Western Campaign. Similarly, 23 African Americans received the nation's highest military award during the Civil War. The 5,000 troopers who served in the all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry constituted about 10% of the total troops who guarded the Western Frontier for a quarter century. In July 1885, the 10th Cavalry moved west into Arizona and dispersed throughout the area to cover as much territory as possible. In 1913, the 10th Cavalry was sent to Fort Huachuca and remained there for almost 20 years. They joined General John J. Pershing in the 1916 expedition into Mexico. Pancho Villa was their target. The troops' main focus was protecting the United States-Mexican Border. Tampa Bay's official introduction to the Buffalo Soldiers was in 1898 during the build up to the Spanish-American War. The sinking of the USS Maine, which had been stationed in Havana harbor as a statement of support for the Cuban revolution against Spain, was a major catalyst for the conflict. On February, 1898, the ship exploded, killing 260 sailors. While there are conflicting views regarding the explosion, the incident increased tensions between the United States and Spain. When Spain ended diplomatic talks, the United States responded with a declaration of war on April 20, 1898. Elements of the Buffalo Soldiers were immediately pressed into service in Cuba and the Phillipines. Congressman Joe Wheeler volunteered to organize and command the Cavalry Division of the 5th Corps on the morning of February 16, 1898, less than twelve hours after the USS Maine exploded. President McKinley accepted his offer of service and on April 26, 1898, General Wheeler was sent to Chickamauga, Georgia to begin organizing the cavalry division. Within a couple of days of his arrival, the cavalry units were ordered to report to Tampa in preparation for departure to Cuba. The 9th and 10th Cavalry were among them.
Buffalo Soldiers camping in Port Tampa
Upon arriving in the South, the Buffalo Soldiers were greeted with hatred by white soldiers and civilians alike. Local militias refused to accommodate the black units sent from predominately northern and mid-western states. Local police aggressively enforced Jim Crow laws in public places, often harassing black troops. The 9th and 10th Cavalry of the Buffalo Soldiers arrived in the bay area on May 2, 1898. The 9th Cavalry was stationed in Port Tampa and Picnic Island. The 24th and 25th Infantry were stationed in Tampa heights and Ybor City. The 10th Cavalry camped in Lakeland but by June 7, 1898 moved to West Tampa. The units were then shipped to Cuba to fight in the SpanishAmerican War. The Spanish-American War was the only time that all four regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers - the 9th, 10th, 24th and 25th - fought together. All four fought with dignity and honor after arriving in Cuba. On June 24, 1898, the 9th and 10th Cavalries fought alongside the First Volunteer Cavalry, better known as Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, in a key battle in the village of Las Guasimas. The Rough Riders stormed the village but were pinned down by Spanish gunfire. The 10th Cavalry fought its way through the heavy brush, rescued the Rough riders and helped force the Spanish soldiers away. After the battle at Las Guasimas, the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments joined the Rough Riders and the 10th Cavalry. Together they fought significant battles at San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill. Casualties were high. The 10th Cavalry lost 20 percent of its men. Often, the Buffalo Soldiers' role in winning the conflict is overlooked and rarely documented.
Fought between May and August 1898, the Spanish-American War was a triumph in the history of the United States. The fourmonth confrontation marked the transformation of the United States from a developing nation into a global power. At its conclusion, the U.S. had acquired the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The war was also the first successful test of the new armored navy. The Spanish-American War demonstrated, once again, the significance of the Buffalo Soldiers. Segregation and discrimination would prevail. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, many of the non-commissioned officers received commissions and several hundred troopers joined new units preparing to fight in Europe. Over 350,000 black soldiers, still in segregated units, fought impressively on the front lines in Europe. In peacetime America, 1920 to 1941, the Buffalo Soldiers became efficient horse and marksmanship units, winning many competitions while fulfilling their duties as service troops for the cavalry school at Fort Riley, Kansas. When the United States entered World War II in 1942, the 9th and 10th Cavalry, along with others, became the subject to changing military philosophy and the mechanization of the cavalry. These wartime changes, for all practical purposes, meant the end of the mounted cavalry in postwar America. After World War II, black soldiers returned home with a renewed sense of hope. They believed that because the American people recognized that Hitler's persecution of the Jews was wrong, they would also recognize that treating blacks as second-class citizens was unfair. On July 28, 1948, President Truman took an important step toward fulfilling African Americans' desire for equality by signing the Executive Order 9981. The order permanently ended racial segregation in the military. The process of full integration took several years to complete, but by the time of the Korean War (1950-1953), the 24th Regiment was the last remaining unit of the Buffalo Soldiers. The 24th Regiment was used sparingly in Korea and was officially deactivated on October 1, 1951. On July 25, 1992, General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dedicated the Buffalo Soldiers Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, birthplace of the 10th Calvary Regiment. Local chapters of the Buffalo Soldiers proudly stand throughout the United States as they pay homage to and ensure the legacy of African-American military contributions in the post Civil War era. The Woods & Wanton Chapter, Inc. of Tampa Bay, Florida, of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Association is the only registered chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers in the State of Florida. It was named after Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Sgt. Brent Woods and Corporal George Wanton. The non-profit chapter is committed to fostering patriotism, courage and self-reliance in youth through local schools and youth organizations that promote sound mind, body and spirit. If we listen hard enough, we can still hear the mighty herds of bison thundering across the Great Plains, and if we look closely enough, we can see the steely pride and indomitable courage of the Buffalo Soldiers in the faces of their proud descendants. They can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 685-5538.
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On December 12th 1933, the Florida Gator sity Gatorss squared off of f against the Univer University of Mar yland Terr apins at Tampaâ€™s Plant Terrapins Field. The Gator Gatorss joined the Southeastern Conference in 1932, along with several ot h er r i v a llss f r oom m th S o ut he oth er t hee h er n Conference-Georgia, Aub urn , Alabama, an d Auburn, and Geor gia Tech. The folGeorgia lowing images are from the of f iici c iaall ga g am mee p r o g r a m . Fl orr i d a beat the F lo Fighting Terrapins 19 to 0, finishing the season 5-3-1 under head coach D.K. Stanley.
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