The Scouse link is almost tenuous, but what a fascinating story! I'll post the Liverpool related portion of the article. You can read the rest here

Corporal Eugene Jacques Bullard
First black American fighter pilot


By William I. Chivalette



"...He worked his way towards the seaport in Norfolk, Virginia and after four years of wandering and working at odd jobs to stay alive, he stowed away on a German ship bound for Aberdeen, Scotland-he was 12 years old.

He soon moved from Aberdeen to Glasgow and worked as a lookout man for gamblers and earned pennies as a whistler. He stayed in Glasgow for five months then moved to the larger seaport town of Liverpool, England. There he worked as a longshoreman and earned six shillings a day. He was still very young and light and the work soon wore him down. He found work as a helper on a fish wagon and doing odd jobs. Later he worked at an amusement park. He earned extra money by dodging balls people threw at him, money that allowed him free time, which he spent at the local gym.

Eugene made it his business to be at Chris Baldwin’s Gymnasium daily when he wasn’t working. Around the gym he did everything the owner wanted and his quick, warm smile and sunny nature made him popular and he made friends with most of the boxers. Soon he was being coached and worked in the ring with anyone who the manager asked him to. He started as a bantam weight but within a year of lifting weights and working out he worked up to light weight. He was just sixteen years old.

After a successful ten round fight against Billy Welsh he was noticed by and became a protégé of the renowned boxer the Dixie Kid. Eugene quickly developed as an aspiring fighter, winning bouts in England and France as a welterweight. When he finally got his bout in France, boxing in Paris at the Elysee Montmartre, it was November 28, 1913. From the moment he first set foot in France he knew this was the place he belonged, and that first visit cemented his long-held aspiration of moving to Paris.

Not long after he returned to Liverpool, Gene, with the help of the Dixie Kid, joined a traveling act called "Freedman's Pickaninnies." They sang and danced and made people laugh with their jokes and slapstick comedy. He signed on because one of their stops was scheduled to be at the Bal Tabarin in Paris.

Soon after joining, the troupe began a tour of the continent where they amused audiences all over Europe and Russia. After Russia, they performed at the Winter Garden in Berlin, Germany, and finally Paris. When Freedman’s Pickaninnies left Paris Eugene was not with them. The chance to live in France was nothing less than a fulfillment of a dream for Bullard. He settled himself in Paris, found a place to stay and was soon employed back in the world of boxing."


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