1992 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: MULTIPLE SPORTS
Parents: Rev. Ira (Eloor) Watkins
Wife: Verniece Watkins
Son: Jay Lamar Watkins
A Flint native, Jay was born on Andrew Street, the fourth child of seven brothers and sisters. He grew up in the St. John Street area and attended Fairview, Lowell, Northern and Flint Junior College (Mott Community College).
Jay became interested in sports at an early age. He played softball on the Little Yellow Dogs Team, and later played third base on the Pal Club Championship Team. While at Northern he played halfback on the football team and ran hurdles on the track team.
On the football team, Jay was a competitor extraordinaire. His diminutive size was no barrier. He was blessed with better than average speed. In 1944 at Northern, Jay led the team in scoring. He was chosen the Most Valuable Player on the team, selected halfback on the All City Team, and earned second team honors on the All Saginaw Valley Team.
After joining the U.S. Navy, Jay began his boxing career. In 1946 he won the naval base welterweight championship. After his discharge he returned to Flint and continued his boxing. He fought and won the Flint Golden Gloves lightweight championship. In 1947 Jay won the State Golden Gloves lightweight championship held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Later that same year he turned professional and trained at the F.I.C.C. under the late Harold Crawford, a well known local fighter and trainer. After turning pro he won 18 straight fights. Jay was known as a quiet, intelligent youngster who was serious about his profession. Out of 28 fights, he recorded 21 KO’s.
Jay was honored in Ring Magazine as “Pro-prospect of the Month” in February of 1948. In 1950, he was rated one of the top three lightweights in Michigan. He defeated the Mexico City featherweight champion Ernesto Aguilar in 1951. During his professional career he fought three world lightweight champions and was ranked one of the most promising lightweights in many years. In 1954 Ring Magazine ranked Jay 10 th as a world lightweight. As a professional boxer, Jay won 57 fights, lost five and had one draw.
After retiring from boxing he worked at Chevrolet Manufacturing, retiring in 1981. He was called into the ministry of God in 1968. In 1981 Jay became a pastor and is currently pastor of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.