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