Charles R. "Bull" Robinson, a retired city recreation center director who was a linebacker for the 1954 Colts and wrestled professionally in the 1960s, died of cancer Saturday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Mondawmin-area resident was 81.
Born in King William County, Va., and raised in Richmond, he came to Baltimore to attend what was then Morgan State College, where he earned a physical education degree and was captain of the football and boxing teams. In 1974, he was inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
Mr. Robinson led a 1949 football team that won eight straight games and in 1950 had six wins and two ties. As a boxer, he became the heavyweight champion of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
He was drafted by Green Bay in 1951 and was briefly on the Philadelphia Eagles squad in 1952. He played for the Baltimore Colts during the 1954 season. Years later, in an Evening Sun interview, Mr. Robinson said, "My light weight was a handicap in football."
The story noted that while at Green Bay, "he first learned how a gridder can pick up some nice change on the side as a professional wrestler."
After returning to Baltimore, and working out at the Druid Hill YMCA, he picked up additional wrestling tips from a friend and went on the road on a circuit that took him to Texas and New England arenas.
He won 70 matches -- and made his debut at the old Civic Center in August 1966. According an Evening Sun account, he bested Angelo Savoldi, described at the time as a "234-pound villain who grew up in New Jersey on the same block as Frank Sinatra."
While wrestling, Mr. Robinson joined the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks and worked at the Lafayette Center before becoming director of the John Eager Howard Recreation Center in Reservoir Hill.
"He became a pillar of the community and a father to all," said his son, Charell Robinson of Highlands Ranch, Colo. "He was a driving force in the life of the children."
He coached the Baltimore Rams, a 1950s and 1960s semipro football team, and the Starlites in the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League.
His son said his father would fill his Buick LaSabre or Crown Victoria with some of his athletes and transport them to games. He also used his contacts with area colleges in Virginia and North Carolina to win scholarships for his players. He also sent players to Syracuse, Kentucky and Maryland.
Mr. Robinson taught amateur wrestling at the centers "but only for body building and muscle coordination," he told The Evening Sun.
Family members said Mr. Robinson had an entrepreneurial spirit too -- and he liked to work a long day. For 20 years, he owned Bull Robinson's liquor store at Greenmount Avenue and 28th Street before selling it in 1989. He also owned and rented houses.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Joseph H. Brown Jr. Funeral Home, 2140 N. Fulton Ave.
In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Chartruse Robinson of Baltimore: and two brothers, Harry Robinson of Richmond, Va., and Claiborne Robinson of San Diego, Calif. His wife of 23 years, the former Mazie Price, died in email@example.com