Joseph Dorsey Jr., 69; Won Case Against Ban on Interracial Boxing

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joseph Dorsey Jr., 69, a boxer who won a fight in the 1950s against Louisiana’s law banning interracial bouts, died Wednesday in his New Orleans home of cancer.

The state law was passed in 1956, and Dorsey challenged it the following year. He argued in court that the law was unconstitutional, depriving him as a black man of the chance to earn about $10,000 a year in purses. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling in 1958 that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

Dorsey, a light heavyweight, fought for a few years after winning the court decision. He ended his career with 29 wins and six losses. But his daughter, Dorinda Dorsey, told Associated Press that promoters “blacklisted” him and tried to prevent him from fighting after he challenged the law.

The New Orleans-born Dorsey began boxing at 16 and stepped out of the ring for good at age 31. He spent the remainder of his working life as a longshoreman, retiring in 1997.