Transatlantic Experiences and Perspectives of Black Germans of the Post-War Generation
Edited By Marion Kraft
From Champion Boxer and Prison Inmate to Social Worker: A Conversation with Charly Graf (Marion Kraft)
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From Champion Boxer and Prison Inmate to Social Worker: A Conversation with Charly Graf
Today, Mannheim is an aspiring university town, both multicultural and industrial. After World War II, during which it was heavily destroyed, it became one of the largest U.S. garrison cities in Europe.1 Charly Graf was one of the many so-called “colored occupation” children who were born there in the post-war years. Born in 1951, he grew up with his mother in the Benz Barracks, named after the automobile factory nearby. In 2011, after many ups and downs, he published his autobiography, an amazing story of struggle and survival.
His narrative begins with his early recognition of his talent and passion for boxing. By the age of 17 he is already celebrated as a star of the German boxing scene and soon compared with Muhammad Ali. However, it doesn’t take long for him to drift off into a criminal milieu and, consequently, he spends 10 years in prison. In Stuttgart-Stammheim, the infamous prison detention center, he meets the former RAF (Red Army Faction) terrorist Peter Jürgen Book, who acquaints him with world literature and helps him expand his political and social awareness. In 1985, Charly Graf starts his second boxing career from prison and becomes the West German boxing champion. Today, for more than 16 years, he has been working as a trainer and teacher for disadvantaged young people at schools in problem neighborhoods...
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