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William Dewey Daniels, Sr.
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Obituary for William Dewey Daniels, Sr.

William Dewey Daniels, Sr., known to his family and East Arcadia locals as Avant,
to his immediate family and friends as Danny, and in the professional boxing circuit as Billy,
was a ranked heavy weight boxer and entrepreneur founder of multiple businesses.

God blessed William with 80 years and allowed him to transition peacefully on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at Lower Cape Fear Hospice surrounded by his children and family. A celebration of William's life was held on Friday, August 4, 2017 at Graham Chapel AME Zion Church. Interment followed in the Dickson Family Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife, Alice A. whom he wed on August 27, 1960 in Rush Temple AME Zion church in Queens, NY; daughters, J. Yolande of Queens, NY, Ayesha L. Simons (Calvin) of Piscataway, NJ and Jamila K. Deese (Derek) of Ranstein, Germany; son, William D. Daniels, Jr (Deidrea) of Charlotte, NC and grandchildren, Maya, Alea, Sarai, William Hugh and Josiah; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

The oldest of eight children, he was born in Columbus County, NC on January 28, 1937, to the late William and Chauncey Dickson Daniels. His siblings include the late Idary Andrews (Willis), the late Elgeravan (Celeste), the late Selma Mae, Anna Ruth Wade of Brooklyn, N.Y., Marva Graham (Robert) of Ashboro, NC, James Eddie (Joyce) of Norfolk, VA, Coyette Brown of Columbus, OH, and Styrus (Yvonne) of Sandyfield, NC.

At the age of 17, William enlisted in the Air Force, where he was stationed at Hahn Air Force base in Germany, received his GED, and joined the boxing team winning various titles, most notably: the 12th Air Force USAEF, Britannica Shield, All-Air Force and CISM Championships. A Private First Class, he was honorably discharged in 1958. After winning the Golden Gloves in 1960, he began to fight professionally as a heavyweight in bouts against Cleveland Williams, Doug Jones, Joe Fraizer, Mike DeJohn, and Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali (to whom he lost in a technical knock-out in the seventh round). Many of the fights were televised “Fights of the Week.” Billy later went on to be the sparring partner to Muhammad Ali. His record was 23 wins (11 knockouts), 22 losses and four draws.

In 1963, he acquired his contract and became a free agent. He offset the difficulties of being a black free agent and representing himself through the businesses that he developed. His boxing career spanned until 1977 and allowed him to travel the world. His businesses ranged from a barber shop, two fast-food restaurants, “Daniels Afro-American Restaurant” and “Billy Burgers,” a guard service and “21st Century Construction Corporation,” a paint contracting company that painted St. Johns Hospital, Neimiah Houses, grocery stores, court houses, and other buildings in Brooklyn, New York.

From 1960 to 1994, William and his wife raised three children in South Ozone Park, Queens near her family. In 1994, they relocated to Hoover Road in Sandyfield, NC where they built a house on land he inherited from his mother. During this time in North Carolina, William worked for an industrial cleaning company and raised his youngest daughter with Alice’s support. With his wife, he encouraged all of their children to value education and travel. Having grown up on a farm, in later life, he enjoyed gardening in his free time.

Throughout his life he maintained an athletic training regimen as staying healthy and exercising was always important to him. In 2004, he completed the IMG/NY Road Runners Club Marathon. He was known in the Sandyfield/East Arcadia communities for bicycling, running and walking on country roads. He became ill in 2015, and in 2017 succumbed to atrial fibrillation and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Previous Events





6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Davis Funeral Home

901 South 5th. Avenue
Wilmington, North Carolina 28401





1:00 PM
Graham Chapel AME Zion Church

458 E. Arcadia Road
Riegelwood, NC 28456


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