Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Black History Month

The Late Great Cisero Murphy

Since we're all about history here, and this month is Black History Month, I figured it's important to commemorate today one of this nation's all-time great African American pool players. Cisero Murphy, shown in the video that you can find here, was the first African-American pool player to ever win a World or U.S. National billiard title. Murphy also was a trailblazer for equal access, having to overcome prejudice to gain his right to compete at the very top echelon of pool.


A native of Brooklyn, Murphy was born in 1937. He was one of eight children. He took up the sport early, dropped out of high school at age 15 and then a year later won the city pool championship. He won the state championship in 1958. 

But because of his race, Murphy was excluded from world and national competition, including the Billiard Room Proprietor's Association of America events in New York and major tournaments in California. Finally, after pickets in both states, Murphy was invited in 1965 to compete in the World Invitation 14.1 tournament in Burbank California. He won it convincingly after defeating Luther Lassiter in the finals. With his victory, Murphy became the first pool player ever to win a world title in his first attempt. The BRPAA would also relent, inviting Murphy to compete in the organization's tournaments in New York. This effectively ended all official race-based barriers to entry in major professional pool tournaments.

Through the years Murphy would play and defeat many of the other greats, including his friend Jersey Red and even Willie Mosconi himself. He continued to place near the top in straight pool events during the 1960s and, according to the Billiard Congress of America website, posted several competitive high runs of over 250 balls.

Murphy was inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in 1995. He died the next year.

-- R.A. Dyer

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

is there someplace i can read more about Cisero???

Anonymous said...

I was able to watch Cisero at the 1966 BCA staight pool championships. He got 3rd place behind Joe Balsas and Irving Crane. His stroke was the smoothest most beautiful I had ever seen.

Jp Jones said...

Cicero was the man he was like Arthur Ash in Tennis or Satchel Page.. just a Giant... its funny how "the pool table doesn't care what color you are what clothes you wear how much money is in your pocket...."

totally trash said...

I want Cicero in the sixties he came to Buffalo with financial backer Country to play Jerry McLemore

totally trash said...

I Watch Cicero in the sixties he came to Buffalo with his financial backer Country to play Jerry McLemore

totally trash said...

I Watch Cicero come to Buffalo in the sixties with his financial backer Country to play Jerry McLemore

totally trash said...

I watch Cicero several times come to Buffalo with his financial backer named Country to play Jerry McLemore

Unknown said...

Did you ever get to meet with Cisero & Country??