Category Archives: Charlie Powell
Prior to becoming a three-sport professional athlete (minor league baseball, football and boxing), Charlie Powell was a four-sport high school terror. Powell, who went straight from his high school squad to the San Francisco 49ers defensive line and later the Oakland Raiders, is still referred to reverentially by those who watched the man-child on the prep fields for San Diego High School.
Rick Smith, one-time PR Director for the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams, is arguably the single-most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to the history of San Diego-area high school athletics. Along that line, Smith and Henrik Jonson have developed a website dedicated to documenting San Diego prep sports history, with a special nod to football. One of Smith’s latest articles focuses on Charlie Powell, and his time spent on Duane Maley’s gridiron squads. You can find the article HERE.
There are several places that one can go on the internet to find quality information on the American Football League. First and foremost, www.remembertheafl.com, which is run by Ange Coniglio, has been an old standby for years. Chris Holmes’s site documenting AFL game programs is another nice place to go. One of my favorite places for reading up on the AFL is not a league-specific site, but rather the Sports Illustrated Vaults, which boasts of having more than 180,000 articles from past SI issues online. A reader can search the site for article on nearly every sports-related subject imaginable, and there is a boatload of fantastic, vintage AFL articles.
>If a survey was done to name the most notable of the many San Diego-area athletes to ultimately achieve success in professional football, most people would nominate Junior Seau, John Lynch, Marcus Allen and Reggie Bush. Brian Sipe might get a nod from a few folks, and Stephen Neal could possibly get his name added to the list as well. But it would take either a student of football history or a San Diegan of the AARP set to rattle off a couple of names that are unknown to most, but were every bit as dominant in their day – Charley and Art Powell.
|Charley Powell (#87) makes a tackle against the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960.|
For the Powell brothers, their excellence in athletics began to garner attention when they entered San Diego High School. Charley grew to be a 6’3” and 230-lbs. high school senior, who played football, basketball, baseball and track & field. He graduated in 1952, the proud owner of 12 varsity letters, and promptly passed up scholarship offers from Notre Dame, UCLA and a tryout with the Harlem Globe Trotters, to play a season of professional baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. After spending a year being pitched around and served a steady diet of curveballs, Charley left baseball, and at 19 years of age, became the youngest player ever to play in the NFL when he broke into the starting defensive line of the San Francisco 49ers. He gained instant notoriety when he sacked the Detroit Lions’ Bobby Layne 10 times in a single game for a total loss of 67 yards. Charley played five seasons with the 49ers, and then put his football career on hiatus to place further emphasis on boxing, something that he had also been doing professionally since 1953. Powell rose to be the No. 4-ranked heavyweight in the world, and had matches against No. 2-ranked Nino Valdes of Cuba (won by TKO), Floyd Patterson (lost by KO) and a young Cassius Clay (lost by knockout). In the midst of his boxing career, Charley went back to football and played two seasons with the fledgling Oakland Raiders of the American Football League, and ultimately put an end to his boxing career in 1965.