A few days ago, while doing some research, I came across a really intriguing name: Ezzard. It belonged to professional boxer Ezzard Charles, who became Heavyweight Champion in 1949 and retained the title until 1951.
The name Ezzard was among the 1,000 most popular U.S. baby names right around the time — and only around the time — Ezzard Charles was champ:
- 1953: 37 baby boys named Ezzard
- 1952: 54 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 975th]
- 1951: 85 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 760th]
- 1950: 63 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 866th]
- 1949: 21 baby boys named Ezzard [debut]
- 1948: unlisted
- 1947: unlisted
Here’s a visual:
Where did his name come from? My best guess here is that Ezzard Charles, who was born in Georgia,
was named in honor of William Ezzard (1799-1887), who served 4 terms as the mayor of Atlanta in the 1800s.
As several commenters have noted, Charles was actually named after Dr. W. P. Ezzard — the Lawrenceville, Georgia, doctor who delivered him in 1921. In fact, here’s a 1949 photo of the boxer and the doctor together:
The surname Ezzard is a variant of the English surname Izzard, which can be traced back (via the Middle English/Old French female personal names Iseld, Iseut, Isaut, Isolde, and Isoud) to the Old Cornish personal name Eselt, meaning “looked up to, admired.” The usage of Eselt in post-Conquest England can be attributed to the legend of Tristan and Isolde, “Cornish versions of which gained huge popularity in medieval Europe through romantic retellings by German, French, and Anglo-Norman writers.”
Have you ever met a person with the first name Ezzard?
P.S. Ezzard Charles was raised in Cincinnati, which now hosts an annual “Ezz Fest” in his honor.
- Ezzard Charles – Wikipedia
- Hammock, Will. “Lawrenceville native Ezzard Charles, former world heavyweight boxing champ, honored with statue, park.” Gwinnett Daily Post 27 Sept. 2022.
- Hanks, Patrick, Richard Coates and Peter McClure. The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Image: © 1949 Atlanta Constitution
[Latest update: 9/2022]