Theodore “Tiger” Flowers became the first African-American middleweight boxing champion by defeating Harry Greb to claim the title in 1926. He was also the first African-American, after Jack Johnson, to challenge for a world title. He was also known by many as “Georgia Deacon,” as he was a devoutly religious man who recited a passage from Psalm 144 before each fight.
Flowers was born in Camilla, Georgia, on August 5, 1895 to Aaron and Lula Flowers. He began boxing at the age of 23 after his temporary move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was only after his move to Atlanta around 1920 that he worked with manager Walk Miller and started training seriously. He met fought against several big name fighters, including Kid Norfolk, Jamaica Kid, and Sam Langford. He was the number one contender for Harry Greb’s middleweight title.
In 1926, Flowers gained the middleweight champion title after dethroning Greb at Madison Square Garden; he repeated the same victory in August. Flowers died in 1927 from complications during eye surgery. Estimates put the number of mourners at his funeral in Atlanta, of both races, at 75,000. Another 7,000 crammed into the City Auditorium to witness his lavish memorial service. Flowers was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame in 1971, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1976, and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.