He was Ali’s friend and business partner but he was murdered in 1973.
Major Benjamin Coxon (later Coxson) was the first black man in an all-white neighbourhood and Muhammad Ali bought his home in 1970.
Coxson, a close friend of Muhammad Ali, was murdered on June 8th, 1973 in a gangland killing.
1970 – this is an extract from JET magazine February 5th 1970.
‘Muhammad Ali who is leaving his Chicago home of eight years for a $90,000 mansion he bought from black entrepreneur Major Coxon in Philadelphia’s Main Line area.
Coxon who says he is Ali’s business advisor told JET that Ali’s purchase of the mansion – with mirrored walls, chandeliers in bedrooms, sunken bathtubs as big as baby swimming pools and 22 telephones in assorted sizes, shapes and colors, one for every room and hallway – was strictly a cash deal. “He paid $60,000 down and will pay the remainder” Coxon affirmed.
Coxon, 40, said he paid $115,000 for the house when he bought it in 1968. ‘I’m losing money on the sale. But what the hell is money between friends?” he said.
The home is located in the Greenville Farm section in the middle of the Main Line. Coxon is the only black living in the area, populated by some of the city’s political, business and judicial leaders.’
Muhammad Ali sold this home in 1974 around the time of his bout with Joe Frazier.
1971 – How Muhammad Ali met Coxson (notice the name change from 1970)
Coxson met Ali around 1968, when Ali couldn’t get a fight. “I wanted to see if I could take on the challenge of getting him a fight,” the Major says. “I called every governor in the country. I got a lot of bullshit. I figured I’d go down south. At least I’d get a straight answer.
I contacted John Williams, the governor of Mississippi. But the U.S. government stepped in and said if Mississippi let the fight go on, they’d withdraw all their funds. So that killed that.” It didn’t quite happen that way, but the Major has always been good at embellishing stories.
Coxson met Ali driving one of his fleet of fancy cars down 52nd Street when Coxson was still living in Philadelphia. It wasn’t only Coxson’s cars that Ali admired. He ended up buying his house. It’s not every house that has carpets and chandeliers in the garage. Coxson, who had demonstrated his dexterity with money matters, became somewhat of an advisor for Ali.
“When he was getting ready to fight Frazier,” the Major says, “I saw where the City of Philadelphia was going to take 90-some thousand dollars in city wage tax off his purse because he lived in Philadelphia. So I saw a way to move him to New Jersey to beat the City out of their money.
The Coxson-Ali fondness is mutual. Ali refers to Coxson as “the gangster. The Major made me move to Philadelphia,” Ali says. “At least his house did. I bought the place with money I made from college lectures and TV appearances. And I was really getting set never to fight again. So this was a nice home, nice neighborhood, prosperous-looking, to reside in forever.
I like to live around people and everything. But I got to start hanging around with the Major a lot over there—he lives down the block—and I got to like the peace and serenity of it, being away from the people.
1973 – Major Benjamin Coxson murdered
Coxson is murdered on June 8, 1973 along with his stepdaughter Lita, in a gangland execution in his home on Barbara Drive in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
He was simultaneously “a mayoral candidate, flamboyant entrepreneur, media darling, civil rights activist, inner city power broker, fraudster, drug financier, and intermediary between Italian-American and African-American gangsters”. The Mafia of Philadelphia is said to have ordered the murder of Coxson for reneging on a narcotics deal.