Landscapes 11


October 11, 1940 ~ January 12, 2022 (age 81)

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Marion  Conner, Sr. was born on October 11, 1940 in Canton, Ohio to James Conner and Bessie Mae Brown. Marion was always very athletically inclined showing great skill in swimming, basketball and track. He attended Canton City Schools; graduating from McKinley Senior High School in 1960 a member of the football and track teams. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. Later he married his high school sweetheart Emma Jean Osborne on November 29, 1961. They had four children Cheryl, Marion, Jr., Vivian, and Rhonda.

Marion showed an early interest in boxing with his older brothers assisting with his skill development. He frequented the local YMCA and Canton Police Boys Club. He started his official amateur boxing training under George Milness at the age of 18. He fought over 250 fights from 1942 to 1962. He won the Golden Gloves Tournament Champion eleven times; seven of which were from the Stark County Boxing Golden Gloves Tournaments from 1956-1962. He won the Most Outstanding Fighter Trophy award in 1962. He was the Pittsburgh, PA Dapper Dan Boxing Tournament Junior Open Middleweight Champion in 1957 and won the Dapper Dan Senior Open Light Heavyweight title in 1961. In that same year he won the New York Daily News Paper Eastern Gold Gloves title and the Chicago Tribune News Paper Western Gold Gloves Boxing title. He became the first boxer ever to win the National Amateur Athletic Union     Boxing Golden Gloves Championship “KayO” compiled a 53-1-3 record as a professional.

Marion “KayO” AKA Thunderbolt held the World Regional New England States Light Heavyweight         Championship from 1963 to 1968 and the World Regional New England States Heavyweight Championship from 1965-1967. In 1967 he participated in one of the biggest fights of his career against Smokin’ Joe Frazier. “KayO” retired from the sport  after the Bi-Centennial Battle of 1976 against fellow Cantonian and Olympic Gold-Medalist Ronnie Harris. He was rated among the top four Light-Heavyweight Contenders in the world by the World Boxing Association (W.B.A.). He is enshrined in Stark County Amateur Sports Hall of Fame and Canton Negro Oldtimers Athletic Association Hall of Fame. He was featured in the novel, “African Americans of Canton Ohio- Treasures of Black History” by Nadine Mcilawaine & Geraldine Radcliffe. He was also given a “Marion Conner Day” and a mayoral proclamation by the City of Canton.

After retirement, Marion worked at the Canton Friendship Center as a shift supervisor for 18 years. He also owned and operated a news stand. He was also very actively involved in the food ministry at Community Life Church of God in Christ, a church he was also a member of for over 30 years.  As a fighter, Marion Conner was very disciplined. He was very serious about his career, his training schedule and performing at the best of his ability.  He lived his life with a lot of pride and he was most proud of his family; his loving wife of 60 years, his children, grandchildren and siblings.

Marion “KayO” Conner Sr. is preceded in death by his parents, James Conner and Bessie Mae Brown; Siblings: Idell Brown, Theodore Brown, Daniel Brown, Israel Brown, Ira Mae Risby, Raymond Brown, Vivian Jenkins, Benny Conner and Leon Conner; Children, Cheryl Yvette Conner and Marion Conner, Jr.; Granddaughter, Sharnice Raeshaun Brown and Great-Granddaughter, Lyric Giselle Loney.

He leaves to cherish his beloved memory his loving wife of 60 years, Emma Jean Conner;      daughters, Vivian Conner- Brown and Rhonda Conner; son, Mario Johnson (Massachusetts); siblings: Chester (Gloria) Brown, James (Angelique) Conner of Virginia, Evelyn Kelley, Melinda Andrews, and Gwendolyn Ladson of Iowa; 9 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.


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January 22, 2022

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

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