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Warrenell F. Lester, 73, boxed professionally

Warrenell Franklin "Boom Boom" Lester, who boxed professionally and worked as an Aberdeen Proving Ground truck driver, died of complications from cancer Saturday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Churchville resident was 73.

Born in Havre de Grace and raised in Bel Air, he was a 1949 graduate of the old Central Consolidated School in Hickory, where he excelled in track, field and football.

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Mr. Lester told a Sun reporter that he learned to defend himself after a bully punched him in the mouth and made him cry.

In the 1940s, Mr. Lester started boxing as a teenager in gyms and arenas in Baltimore and Havre de Grace. In 1952, he entered the Army and was assigned to a special services unit boxing team.

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He won the light heavyweight and heavyweight Golden Gloves championships in Washington, the 2nd Army title, and then defeated boxer Zora Foley for the All Army Crown. He defeated Navy, Air Force and Marine boxers for the interservice boxing championship.

"He got the Boom Boom name in a gym. Whenever his right hand connected on the bag, it seemed the entire gym would shake," said Ray Leonard, chairman of the Maryland Veteran Boxing Athletic Hall of Fame. "Yet out of the ring, he was a quiet and a very well-liked person."

He won 112 amateur fights, losing only five before turning professional Oct. 25, 1954, with his first bout at the old Baltimore Coliseum on Monroe Street. He knocked out Claude Flagler in the second round.

Mr. Lester went on to fight in 32 heavyweight and light heavyweight contests. He sparred with Archie Moore, who was then preparing to fight Rocky Marciano in a 1955 title fight.

"Archie was my favorite fighter. It was a great break to live and train with him. He taught me not to telegraph my punches. Because of being in his camp, I got to fight on the same card that night in Yankee Stadium against Wadell Hanna. I won and Archie lost," Mr. Lester recalled last year.

In the early 1960s, after retiring from the ring, he became an Aberdeen Proving Ground truck and forklift operator. He retired from the job in 2002.

Services will be held at noon today at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, 615 Greene St., Havre de Grace, where Mr. Lester was a member.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Thelma Beatrice Banks; a sister, Harriet Lowery of Washington; and nieces and nephews.


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