01-12-2009, 04:43 PM
a colourful character whom I had the pleasure of knowing and outside of his entertaining and eventfull life, he Freddie, an American Blackman founded the Scot's Boxing Hall of Fame. Freddie also trained with Floyd Paterson among others in the Catskills I believe.
a true Braveheart Freddie, a true Son of Scotland!
God Bless and rejoice in eternity's glory. and thank's for the support of my Ol grandad Bert.
Your wee pal, Jim Glen
03-06-2009, 06:50 PM
just got this from Freddie's widow Jan Mack... "what a character and what a life, did none of you guys know him?"
Freddie Mack – Mr Superbad
A celebration of his life story told in 10 rounds by his family and friends
Round 1 MUSICAL MEMORIES OF FAVOURITE TRACKS – FREDDIE MACK III
~ Music: Lets go round again; I’ll go where the music takes me; Stomp; Disco Inferno; Eye to Eye Contact; Move on up; Soul Man; Superbad Slick ~
Round 2 - BIRTH TO NEW YORK (Max Cruikshank)
Welcome, soul brothers and soul sisters to this celebration of the life of Freddie Mack, Mr. Superbad.
You may wonder why we are in Airdrie Town Hall; well there are good reasons for that. Freddie was not a religious man, so he didn’t want a religious ceremony, however make no mistake about it, Freddie was a man of strong beliefs – he believed in Destiny. A topic we will return to again shortly. So we are not in a church, and we are not even in a funeral parlour, because it was far too small to accommodate the many friends of this amazing big man.
On behalf of Freddie’s family, his wife Jan and his children, I would like to extend their thanks to everyone for their magnificent support at this time.
Today, I am not only delighted but also honoured to be asked by Freddie’s family to take you on a musical and visual journey through, what we all know to have been an amazing and very fulfilled life.
Freddie’s story begins in 1934 when he was born to Fred Mack and Florence Purvis, on a cotton plantation in South Carolina,
In the early years of his life, Freddie encountered racial prejudice, serious poverty and segregation. However, he escaped these horrendous roots, when his mother took him to New York, where Freddie Mack’s transformation began on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.
~ Music "In the Ghetto" – Elvis Presley ~
Round 3 - BOXING CAREER
It was inevitable that Freddie entering his teenage years would be part of the typical territorial youth sub-culture of the day, and you should not be surprised to hear that he ended up the leader of the infamous ‘Robin’ gang.
It was during a street brawl with rival gang members that Freddie’s story changes again, on a chance meeting with world champion ‘Floyd Paterson’.
This chance meeting was the start of his boxing career and led to his reaching 3rd place in the global light heavy weight rankings, with memorable victories against Jack Bodell, Chick Calderwood and Sante Amonti, being some of the highlights of his 66 professional bouts.
Even as an amateur it was obvious he was going to be successful, when, as a sixteen year old he had the honour and privilege of representing his country at the Helsinki Olympics in Finland in 1952.
This also opened up a whole new dimension to Freddie’s life.
~ Music "Eye of the Tiger" – Survivor ~
Round 4 - ROME, ITALY
Show business was the furthest thing from Freddie’s mind when he travelled for the first time from America to his mother’s birthplace in Italy. However, fate or destiny, as Freddie would say, played a part in the next transformation in his career.
Freddie’s larger than life, charismatic personality, attracted celebrities and high rollers such as Nicolas Poppadocus the Greek shipping tycoon, Richard Burton, Donald Pleasance and Rex Harrison, who were all boxing fans. They were all working at the time, in Italy, and persuaded Freddie to get into acting, with roles in "Cleopatra", "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle" and "The Invisible Man".
Ever open to a new challenge Freddie agreed to take on the role of one of the black slaves, in Cleopatra, who would carry Elizabeth Taylor into Rome in an epic scene. As the true professional he was and for the love of his art, Freddie allowed the make up department to paint his body jet back, from head to toe.
He thoroughly enjoyed this Thespian experience. But Freddie had a reality check when he got home to discover the paint wouldn’t come off, and it took him six weeks to return to what he always called his natural colour, Milk Chocolate!
~ Music "Cleopatra" – Music Score ~
But then came K-Tel
Round 5 - K-TEL
By Another remarkable stroke of luck, Freddie’s destiny placed him once again in the right place at the right time, when his band ‘Freddie Mack and the Mack Sound’ supported ‘Barry White’ at the Rainbow Theatre, in London.
In the audience was Mr. K-Tel himself who recognized the fantastic talent that Freddie had, and immediately asked him to represent his new compilation album company. Freddie Mack became the face of K-Tel Records, this launched him into television stardom, where he appeared in adverts for K-Tel and was the first black person to feature in British television adverts, so becoming Mr. Superbad.
~ Music "Kung Fu Man" – Mr Superbad with Ultra funk ~
Round 6 - RADIO
Not happy with just excelling in television he moved from television legend to radio legend.
Once again Freddie blossomed in this new and exciting adventure, where his distinctive voice and instant sex appeal, teamed with his unique style captivated a brand new audience.
Instantly, Mr. Superbad’s popularity became ‘hot property’ within the radio industry, not only in Britain but also worldwide, and he was broadcasting on such stations as Radio Clyde, Radio Joe Banana’s in Hong Kong, Radio Waves and Power FM in Tenerife, Castle Rock, Dumbarton Festival Radio, Clan FM, West Sound, River FM, to name but a few.
Just a few weeks ago on St. Andrew’s Day, Freddie’s final radio broadcast was on Lanarkshire’s L107, with his long term close friend and colleague, John Manning.
Opportunities then arose to demonstrate his skills within major events across the UK. He quickly became a man of firsts, by hosting the first Glasgow Marathon, the 1st Glasgow Garden Festival, the 1st Disco Cabaret at the Glasgow Apollo, and the 1st Loch Lomond Rock Festival.
Very quickly, it was obvious that Freddie had magnificent communication skills with a live audience and especially with children and young people.
Like so many celebrities in the last few years Freddie wasn’t afraid to make a fool of himself in public, when starring in events like the outdoors Christmas Panto’s, playing the first ever black ‘Robin Hood’, and Mr. Superbad from the Planet of Prizes, in "Santa, I want an Alien for Christmas". Freddie was entertaining audiences of 50,000 people across Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire as part of the traditional Christmas lights "switch-on", celebrations.
More recently Freddie has devoted his time to charity work and last year was heavily involved with ‘The Real Radio Duck Races’ on the River Clyde and performed on stage with another colleague and friend, Sally Carr, lead singer of the legendary 70’s band, Middle of the Road, and with June Brown, MBE, who play’s Dot Cotton in the BBC's East Enders, all of this for the Variety Club of Scotland.
~ Music "I’ll go where the music takes me" Jimmy James and the Vagabonds ~
Round 7 - THE SCOTS BOXING HALL OF FAME (SBHOF)
One of the things Freddie was most proud of was achieving his dream of setting up The Scots Boxing Hall of Fame.
He did not do this for his own gratification, but because he felt that there were far too many Scottish Ex-Boxers whose great achievements had not been honoured, preserved or recognised. It made him so happy that after four induction events more than twenty five former amateur and professional fighters were remembered by a whole new generation of boxing fans.
Through the innovation of the Internet we have yet another example of Freddie and his destiny. When his long lost family discovered on the web that their father was still alive, his son Ken came to the 2008 Induction Event to meet his adopted mom, (Jan) his dad and the rest of his British family.
At this event Freddie was reduced to tears when after 8 years of association with this organisation they awarded him The President’s Jewel, as a Chain of Office.
To understand how proud of this Freddie was his wife Jan reports that he wore it on any occasion he could, including his many hospital appointments and to his final radio interview.
The next piece of music is a song written by Nicole, Freddie’s daughter and produced by her husband Dave. It encompasses their Dad’s main roll in life and it demonstrates the legacy, the love of music and the talent which runs through the veins of all his children.
~ Music "A Peoples Champion" – Nicole Mack Gowenlock ~
Round 8 – STORIES & ANECDOTES (Jim Hodge)
I was a close friend of Freddie’s for 14 years. Jan has asked me to talk a little about Freddie the person, the man I came to know over that time and I am honoured to do so.
To paint a full picture of the man would take much longer than the time available today so I’ll try to give you a flavour by recounting some stories from our time together.
For instance – he was a very tactile person – into hugs and handshakes. He always gave me a hug when we met or parted. Early on I used to keep my glasses in the breast pocket of my jacket as I didn’t have to wear them all the time. I quickly learned this was not a good idea as his hugs could lead to them being crushed.
I used to go over and see him most Tuesdays when we would sit in the dining room and chat over juice and biscuits. Over the years we talked about all sorts of things – boxing, of course and his time in the entertainment industry and much, much more – politics, boating which was an interest of mine, religion, people we knew – his wife Jan for instance – but please don’t tell her- and Scotland amongst others.
He had come to love Scotland and was full of questions about it and its history so he and I took to visiting places like – the Vikingar Centre in Largs, the Wallace Monument, Scone Palace where, centuries ago, they crowned the kings of Scotland and Bannockburn Heritage Centre. There they have a real chain mail shirt which is heavy enough that when Freddie, who was pretty fit back then, had trouble lifting it, much to his surprise. It took some convincing before he believed that it had actually been worn in battle. He just loved these visits and was always full of questions afterwards. I often had to research on the internet to satisfy his curiosity. He was like a sponge, soaking up learning as if he was making up for having missed so much when he was a youngster.
We often met other people when we were out and about and eventually he came to introduce me as his minder. Can you imagine how often this was met with a raised eyebrow? I mean, look at me and then remember he was considerably bigger.
He would often tell other people that when I was with him he "could never get a word in". I mean, come on, anyone who knew him knew that he could talk for Britain. To tell the truth though maybe there was an element of truth in this, but if so, then I claim self defence. If I was talking he couldn’t, you see!
Max found another way to achieve the same end. He played his guitar and sung to Freddie and that kept him quiet but these are talents I didn’t have.
A number of years ago my wife and I owned a small tourer caravan which we kept on a site at Rosneath which is near Helensburgh. We had Jan and Freddie down staying with us for a weekend and because the van was small they slept in the awning. Early in the morning Freddie woke needing to empty his bladder. Being the gentleman he was and not wanting to wake us by using the toilet in the van he quietly went outside and found a convenient tree – it was still dark, by the way. Imagine his surprise when, in mid stream, as it were, another ‘camper’ popped his head round the tree and wished Freddie a cheerful "good morning". It certainly spoiled Freddie’s aim. He still enjoyed his ‘camping’ weekend though.
He met a number of people at that caravan park and became particularly fond of another friend of mine called God. No not ‘THE’ God. Godfrey is his full name but he is called God for short. Like Freddie, he and his wife had fallen in love with Scotland when on a bus tour of the Loch Lomond area some 25 years ago, moved up here 2 years later and have been here ever since. So between the three of us we had an Englishman, a Scotsman and an American. Maybe there’s a joke in there someplace. I’ll need to think about that.
As mentioned earlier Freddie was great with kids. This was particularly evident at his home where local youngsters would knock on the door and ask if Superbad "was coming out to play?" He would go and sit on the garden wall and regale them with tales of his life. He became so popular with them that it was not uncommon for him to receive birthday and Christmas cards from them and their parents.
Freddie strongly believed in destiny. All that happened throughout his life was meant to happen. He died on the 50th anniversary of Tamala Motown and coincidentally on the 50th anniversary of his arrival in Britain. He would have believed this was destiny.
He was very much a family man and loved all of them dearly. He knew he was destined to marry Jan from the minute he first saw her and knew, of course, that they would have a romantic honeymoon. What he didn’t know was that his mother-in-law and brother-in-law would accompany them on that very honeymoon. I was never quite sure what he meant but he told me often that that added to the experience.
To sum up – Freddie was big and bright, a character who once met was never forgotten. He was a gentleman in all meanings of the word. To me, personally he was my friend, my buddy, my brother and I will miss him very much.
I’d like to read you this email from Billy Walker a very dear friend and colleague of Freddie.
Sorry I cannot be with you today, Jan and all the family but my thoughts are with you.
I first met Fred over 45 years ago – we were both handsome rogues together, though he always insisted he was more handsome that me! My brother George told me they were bringing an American down to spar with me – Freddie Mack. But they forgot to mention what a good fighter he was! I am glad they never matched us in a pro fight – he was that good. If he hadn’t beaten me in the ring, he would probably have knocked me out with his talking!
That started a great friendship and we only lost contact when I got married, again and again …and again! But we have always stayed friends, he was one of the nicest guys I have ever met, he was talented not only as a fighter but as a musician, singer and radio compere ‘Mr Superbad’ always made life fun.
A man whom I had the greatest respect for in the ring, and even more so out of the ring. He was one in a million!
I’ll miss him so much, Love you Fred, Your friend Billy.
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