PROFILES IN SUCCESS: ‘The Hammer:’ thug with an intellect

In a world that strives to be politically correct, Fred Williamson is as blunt as an elbow to the head.It's the only way he knows.The Froebel grad played defensive back at Northwestern, spent eight seasons in the NFL, then became an actor/director/producer of popular Hollywood action films of the '70s and '80s considered to be of the "blaxploitation" genre."You can't kill me, I want to win all my fights, and I get the girl at the end of the movie — if I want her," Williamson said, laughing. "Those are my three Hollywood rules."He has directed more than 40 action films.Williamson also appeared in more than 60 films, including M*A*S*H, The Inglorious Bastards (1978 version), From Dusk till Dawn, Starsky & Hutch, Last Ounce of Courage, Being Mary Jane, and Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption."I've had an uphill climb and was able to capitalize on making mistakes," Williamson said. "Here I am, directing and producing movies on my own for a million bucks and competing with movies they have for 90 million."Their crowds are down and my lines are around the block."As Williamson's films were being snubbed and ridiculed by high-brow critics, studio funding dried up and he was forced to go overseas, with Rome among his favorite locations to shoot."I still make my films at $2 million, a million-five, and they're all profitable," he said. "I couldn't live in Hollywood. I've lived in Palm Springs for 25 years."If I lived in Hollywood, I'd be slapping people around. I couldn't fathom that B.S."At 79, life continues to be good for "The Hammer" — a nickname given him during his NFL career because he used his forearm to deliver karate-style blows to the heads of wide receivers.In 1967, as a starting defensive back for Gary native Hank Stram's Kansas City Chiefs, Williamson played in Super Bowl I against the Packers after stints with Pittsburgh and Oakland.He posed nude for Playgirl Magazine in October of 1973 and in '74, replaced Don Meredith on ABC's Monday Night Continue Reading

Feeding the homeless: ‘These are my friends. I break bread with them’

Aleta Clark says she was 18 months old when her mom dropped her off at a Chicago South Side police station and walked off. Nearly 30 years later, Clark walked into another station on the South Side in February and noticed a lobby filled with people seeking shelter from the cold night. She came back the next night, this time with food. And every night since. Around 10:30 p.m., she pulls up to the Area Central police station at Wentworth Avenue and 51st Street with her SUV filled with meals and drinks and clothes. The regulars have come to call the station Club 51. “They are my friends, I break bread with them,” said Clark, 28, an advocate for the homeless and an activist against violence. “I don’t judge people.” At Christmas, Clark bought 32 jackets and shoes as gifts for her friends, as well as McDonald’s gift cards. Clark says she knows what the feeling of hopelessness can do. She has been told her mother was addicted to heroin when she dropped Clark at the police station and later died of an overdose. Clark said she spent her life in foster homes. She was split from her siblings and was placed in a home where she said she was abused. “At a young age I lost my innocence,” Clark said. “I had to forgive everybody who ever hurt me for myself.” Clark’s adoptive mother died when she was 12 and Clark began to run away. She was kicked out of school, placed in a special school and generally labeled a problem child, she said. There she met a counselor named Ron Strong, who encouraged her schooling and helped her deal with her anger. “I’ve suffered and I’ve been through a lot, but it’s made me the person I am today,” said Clark, a single mother of an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. She credits Strong with inspiring her to become a mentor for about 30 girls at South Shore International College Prep High School. She also got involved in community projects aimed at “those Continue Reading

Slideshow: 50 famous athletes from the Region

Alex Karras Alex Karras became the best known member of a football-playing family, with a career as a dominant defensive lineman in the National Football League, followed by an acting career that included notable roles in "Blazing Saddles" and "Webster."Karras was born in Gary on July 15, 1935. His father was a Greek immigrant and doctor; his mother a nurse. Karras' brothers Lou, Ted and Paul all played football, Lou and Ted in the NFL.Karras graduated from Emerson High School and attended the University of Iowa, where he earned the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football. He was drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 1958 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.Karras played for the Lions from 1958-62 and 64-70. He was suspended for the 1963 season after admitting to gambling on NFL games. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the 1960s All-Decade NFL team.His wider fame had its start in the major role he played in George Plimpton's book "Paper Lion," chronicling the writer's experience as an amateur quarterback for the Lions. When the book was adapted as a movie, Karras played himself opposite Alan Alda's Plimpton.Karras appeared in a variety of movies and TV shows, including "Blazing Saddles" as the outlaw Mongo, who memorably knocked out a horse with a single punch; "Porky's"; the TV miniseries "Centennial," and his starring role in the sitcom "Webster," which he produced with his co-star and wife, Susan Clark.Karras also worked as a commentator on Monday Night Football broadcasts from 1974-76, alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.Karras had six children with his two wives. He died at age 77 on Oct. 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, suffering from kidney failure, cancer and dementia. Angela Hamblin Before the likes of West Side star Dana Evans came around, it was Angela Hamblin who starred in the Steel City.One of the greatest female players in Region history, Hamblin was a mega-star at now-defunct Lew Wallace. She finished her Continue Reading

Men’s Prep Talk soccer alumni in NCAA Division II and III 2017

You never know where a #PrepTalkAlumni might turn up. Many products of Section 6 and the Monsignor Martin Association's high school soccer programs stay local, filling out the rosters of the area's abundance of non-NCAA Division I schools. Others wind up at places a little tougher to find on a map - like Thiel, Skidmore, Clarks Summit and Oberlin, to name a few. Here's our 2017 rundown of all #PrepTalkAlumni playing either NCAA Division II or III soccer. If we missed someone, please let us know in the comments or by emailing [email protected] Which high school has churned out the most active college players in this list? Here's a hint: It's the same as last year. Answer at the very bottom. And since connectivity is pretty important to us, we listed each player's most recent Buffalo & District Soccer League team, when applicable. ALFRED UNIVERSITY (4-11-1 overall, 3-3-1 in Empire 8) Kade McGarrity, senior defender from Lake Shore Andrew Raithel, freshman midfielder from West Seneca West ALFRED STATE UNIVERSITY (3-12-1 overall) Ku Reh, junior midfielder from Riverside Bryan Whitbeck, sophomore midfielder from Akron Tyler Jacobs, freshman defender from Eden Nathan Adamec, freshman midfielder from Lancaster Joe Geegba, sophomore forward from Hutch Tech Cole Lapi, sophomore defender from Ellicottville Matthew Weimer, freshman forward from Portville Mike Daskavitz, freshman defender from Lockport ALLEGHENY COLLEGE (5-11-1 overall, 2-6-1 in NCAC) Kristian Snyder, freshman forward from Medina BALDWIN WALLACE COLLEGE (5-12-2 overall, 1-7-1 in OAC) Owen Feeley, freshman forward from Iroquois Iroquois' Owen Feeley, middle, went on to play at Baldwin Wallace. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo) BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE (14-3-3 overall, 6-0-3 in SUNYAC) Ali Shawish, sophomore midfielder from Lackawanna Josh Beshaw, junior forward from Lockport Brandon Galanti, senior forward from Frontier Clarence's Victor Powell, middle, now plays at Buffalo State. (Mark Mulville/News Continue Reading

From the arts to technology, the crown jewels of education help New York City high school students shine

1. The Brooklyn Latin School223 Graham Ave., Brooklyn Enrollment ................................................. 509 Graduation rate......................................... 99% Report card grade............................................ B Average SAT score................................. 1740 Post-secondary enrollment rate..................................... 86% Admissions:Test-based. Applicants are required to take the city’s Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Admissions decisions are based on applicants’ scores. Brooklyn Latin’s emphasis on the classics manifests itself in a four-year Latin requirement that goes along with similar obligations in more conventional high school subject areas like history, mathematics, science and English. No student graduates without having built strong oratory and writing skills into his or her arsenal, as the young scholars are required to participate in Socratic Seminars and Declamation to build public-speaking techniques. The school’s rigorous expectations for independent thought and action manifest themselves in the required college-level research essay on a selected topic, as well as the 150 hours of creativity, action and service to be completed outside of TBLS. With this disciplined and challenging curriculum, it’s no surprise that the cream of the crop are encouraged to work in the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. 2. Bronx High School of Science 75 W. 205th St., Bronx Enrollment.............................................  3060 Graduation rate ..................................... 100% Report card grade ..........................................  A Average SAT score ...............................  1969 Post-secondary enrollment rate................................. 100% Admissions:Test-based. Applicants are required to take the city’s Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Admissions Continue Reading

Your family’s ultimate guide to uniquely Arizona activities

Some years, spring break is anything but a break for parents.Younger children require constant supervision. Older children do too, for entirely different reasons.Comfortable routines involving school and homework disappear when classes are suspended for a week. Children clamoring for a few days off experience sudden-onset boredom, looking to parents for the cure.Thanks to typically lovely weather, spring break is a great time of year to get out of town. Here are some suggestions, based on age-appropriateness and how much time you have to spare. TITAN MISSILE MUSEUMWhat: A fortified underground bunker housing a 103-foot-tall Titan II missile and several 3-ton blast doors.Educational value: 7. Docents relate Cold War history while sharing what life was like living and working on the edge of nuclear war.Entertainment value: 7 (9 if you're chosen to "fire" the missile). It's a missile! Even kids paying no attention to the lessons will find much to like about being in an underground bunker. They may even want their bedrooms decorated in Cold War chic.Cool fact: The silo has a transparent cover so the satellites of foreign governments can keep an eye on things.Details: 1580 W. Duval Mine Road, Sahuarita. $9.50, $6 for ages 5-12. 520-625-7736, RELATED: History road trip: Titan Missile Museum MONTEZUMA'S CASTLE NATIONAL MONUMENTWhat: A cliff dwelling built by ancient people who were unafraid of heights.Educational value: 7. Rangers share what is known about the Sinagua people who built this impressive complex from 1100-1450. Turned out to be a great location, given that much of it has stood for 800 years.Entertainment value: 5 (up to 7 for kids who appreciate ancient architecture, assuming such kids exist). The good news is that you're outside and tours aren't mandatory, so you can spend as much time as attention spans allow. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the natural surroundings.Cool fact: Montezuma Continue Reading

Caribbean Fine Art Fair-Barbados is more than just an art show

Returning for a third year, the Caribbean Fine Art (CaFA) Fair-Barbados promises to be a magnificent exhibition of art — and a whole lot more. The event, presented by Manhattan-based Diaspora-Now, runs from March 13 through 17 at the Spirit Bond Building in the historic section of Bridgetown and along with the art, there will be performances, films, an expert-filled symposium and an opening reception. The March 13 reception features a musical performance, the presentation of the Caribbean Luminary of the Arts Award, and a preview of the more than 35 exhibitors scheduled to show paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, original limited edition prints and new media — all incorporating Caribbean cultural traditions. Participating artists include Diogenes Ballester and Daniel Lind-Ramos (Puerto Rico); Ademola Olugebefola (U.S. Virgin Islands); Jamal Ince, Ras Ishi Butcher, Carlton Murrell and Ras Akyem I Ramsay (Barbados); Ava Tomlinson and Nicolle Blackwood (Jamaica); Carl E. Hazlewood and Philip Moore (Guyana); David Wilson (Dominica); Patricia Brintle (Haiti); Abishag Voundi (Martinique); Marcel Pinas (Suriname) and David Boothman (Trinidad and Tobago). On March 16, the Caribbean Art Symposium will feature painter and arts advocate Danny Simmons, co-founder and chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation; Amy Kisch, former Sothebys executive and principal of New York’s AK Art, and artist/ lecturer Ademola Olugebefola. Event partners include Barbados Tourism Authority, Barbados National Cultural Foundation, BMW, CaribBEING, Intimate Hotels of Barbados, Laparkan Shipping, Latin American Art, Lush Life Resort, Naniki Restaurant and Virgin Atlantic. For information on the event, visit or call (646) 267-8831.   Associated Press Former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis (l., in 1999 bout with Evander Holyfield) will receive a 2013 Luminary Award at the University of the West Continue Reading

Daniel Dingle, Kareem Canty, Kamari Murphy head to Philly U. Reebok camp, where John Wall will coach

Reebok is hoping its latest summer hoops venture, The Reebok Breakout Challenge, will unearth the next John Wall. That's the hook in the athletic shoe company's camp, which opens Wednesday for a four-day run at Philadelphia University. The camp of 100 invitees will feature at least 20 area boys basketball players, mainly from the hoops hotbeds of the five boroughs and northern New Jersey. After a one-year hiatus, the Massachusetts-based shoe company is back in business, reinventing its camp model with an emphasis on lesser-known players with untapped potential. Wall, who attended high school in Raleigh, N.C., exploded at Rbk U All-America camp in 2008, beginning a meteoric rise that put him in line with such eventual NBA players as Tracy McGrady (1996) and Al Harrington (1997). Wall played a season at Kentucky before the Washington Wizards made him the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. "John will take ownership of the camp," said Brian Lee, Reebok's global basketball director. "It'll be a hands-on experience for him. He's only three years removed from that summer, and wants to find kids that mirror his story." Along with traditional five-on-five games, players will be evaluated in skill training and fitness testing. Orlando's Jameer Nelson and Dallas' Jason Terry will assist with the coaching duties, and the top performers will be selected to participate in a private training summit later in the summer. "It's not fair to solely judge kids in game settings," Lee said. "To the trained eye, this will give coaches other ways to view a player." Van Coleman, a top talent evaluator since 1977, likes the blueprint. "Their attitude is to find the next great player; the one who might not be in everyone's top 25 or 50," said Coleman, the national scouting director for "To some extent, it's similar to the ABCD Camp (founded by Sonny Vaccaro) where you'd see over 200 players but usually 80 of them were unknowns looking for exposure and Continue Reading

U.S. women’s national soccer team is missing the color of America

Briana Scurry made her name in the nets, providing a resolute barrier to intrusion during an illustrious 14-year career with the U.S. women's soccer national team. The goalkeeper may have appeared right at home once she got there, but she took a somewhat unconventional route. Although she'd excelled at the sport from an early age and garnered All-American status as a high school standout in Dayton, Minn., her tiny hometown, Scurry says it was only a personal connection between her club soccer coach and Jim Rudy, the former University of Massachusetts coach, that got her the look she needed to land a scholarship. "I completely came in the back window because the front doors were closed to me," says Scurry, 39, who started in goal for the U.S. national team in two Olympics and three World Cups, and played professionally until her retirement last year. As a teenager, Scurry tried out for the Olympic Development Program but did not advance beyond the state level; she never played with the developmental teams of the U.S. Soccer women's program. But in 1993, while she led UMass to NCAA women's soccer championship semifinals, she demonstrated her value to North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance, who was then coaching the U.S. national squad. The fact that she was the only African-American player at UMass, she says, didn't really dawn on her at the time, but Scurry says she has since begun to wonder what factor her race may have played throughout the course of her career. "I think about it more now because I'm trying to think if there's something I'm missing," she says. "Clearly, there is." Women's soccer has skyrocketed, both in quality and popularity, during the past 20 years in the U.S., but Scurry and others say that many minority women are being left out. "Soccer is simply not a choice for young African-American girls," she says, crediting her parents' decision to move to a predominately white suburban neighborhood outside Minneapolis as the "only reason Continue Reading