Inducted on November 13, 1987
James (Jimmy) Dupree was born on April 27, 1936, in McClellanville, South Carolina. One of five children, he is the older of two boys. When Jimmy was about fifteen years old, he heard the Joe Louis/Ezzard Charles fight on radio and felt “vibrations.” That was when he decided to become a boxer. He had always liked boxing, but since there was no way to become a boxer in McClellanville, he forgot about it.
In the late fifties Jimmy went to New York, and through manager and trainer Willie Grunes, became involved in amateur boxing. In 1961, after four amateur fights, Dupree turned professional.
Jimmy’s first professional fight was against Joe Reynolds on October 2, 1961 at the St. Nicholas Arena on West 166th Street, New York City, when Jimmy won a 4 round decision. Several fights later Jimmy fought Johnny Pitts at the St. Nicholas Arena on March 10, 1962. Dupree stopped Pitts in twenty-six seconds of the first round. It was the second quickest knockout in the history of St. Nicholas Arena.
His trainer Willie Grunes even went to the extreme of picketing Madison Square Garden in 1965 when he thought Jimmy was being ignored by Brenner and Markson, who were running the Garden’s boxing department. That resulted in Jimmy getting an August 1965 MSG main event against Johnny Persol. He blew his big chance and lost the fight on a 9th round TKO but tried to make a comeback with a series of out of town fights. His last fight under Willie’s management was his 10 round loss to Eddie “Bossman” Jones on September 11, 1967. Willie then sold his contract to Al Braverman. Jimmy then went on to achieve a number one ranking and fight for the Light Heavyweight title against Vincente Rondon. He also defeated Persol and Bossman Jones in return fights.
From 1969 to 1971 Jimmy Dupree was the Number One contender for the light heavyweight championship of North America. After winning a twelve-round decision over Ray White at Santa Monica, California, in 1971, Dupree finally took that Crown.
Jimmy also fought Charlie “Devil” Green and Mike Quarry, among others. However, his most memorable fight was the 2nd fight against Eddie “Boss Man” Jones from California at the Jersey City Armory. With that win Dupree became the top contender for the World Championship. Another reason for remembering that particular bout is that, in addition to the purse, the winner received the Marciano Memorial Trophy. The trophy has special significance to Jimmy because Rocky Marciano was one of the great boxers and champions of all times. Dupree retired after being stopped by Richie Kates in the 1st round in 1974.
In 1970 he opened a gym in Jersey City, since in that area of the city every other sports activity except boxing was offered to young people. He saw how many troubled youngsters could be helped through boxing; it could help them develop the confidence to face the world and believe in themselves. The gym is for the community and was open to young men of all ages..
As a runner, he is known as The Man Who Runs For a Cause. Jimmy decided to run for I worthy causes after much soul-searching and an almost religious experience at Coney Island. Dupree was looking at the moon’s reflection on the water when the water seemed to move violently. From that moment on, Jimmy’s outlook on the world changed. He had challenged God to show him the way he must go. Running means love, giving of self; and he never worked so hard, even when he was boxing. His important runs have been from City Hall in Jersey City to City Hall in Newark (June, 1975) to fight sickle sell anemia; across thirteen bridges from Fort Lee, New Jersey (George Washington Bridge) to Willowbrook Hospital on Staten Island (Bayonne Bridge to call attention to the plight of the Mentally Retarded: from Jersey City City Hall to New York City for the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy; from Jersey City to the Meadowlands to welcome the football Giants to the new Meadowlands Stadium; and from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House on Palm Sunday, 1978, to present palm from the people of Jersey City to the President, in the interest of peace.
On May 12 and 13, 1978, he ran from Newark Airport to Bayonne and from Bayonne to Jersey City to raise blood for senior citizens of Jersey City and Bayonne.. In the future, Jimmy plans to write a book and make a film, either with live actors or with cartoon figures. Above all, he wants to make children and senior citizens smile.
The Ring, February 1972 issue, reported that Jimmy Dupree was 30 years old in his fight against Mike Quarry in 1971.
Boxing Record: click