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Floyd Patterson Ballfields

Floyd Patterson Field

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This park honors Floyd Patterson (1935-2006), a boxing legend who was the world heavyweight champion for the periods 1956-59 and 1960-62. This property was acquired by the City in the early 1970s as part of an urban renewal program. In 1981, the land was assigned to NYC Parks by the Department of General Services, and was developed with Federal Community Development funds. 

In 1981, Brooklyn Councilmen Enoch Williams and Abraham Gerges sponsored a local law to name this parkland after the boxing great. Located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, Floyd Patterson Field is surrounded by more than 5,000 units of public housing.  At the dedication ceremonies in June 1981, Mayor Edward I. Koch noted that Patterson had devoted much of his post-boxing life working with young people. “It is especially meaningful, therefore, that this park be named in his honor,” Koch said, “It will provide recreational enjoyment for the residents of the many housing developments in the area.”

Patterson was born in Waco, North Carolina and moved with his family to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn when he was a small child. While attending the Wiltwyck School for Boys in Esopus, New York, Patterson learned how to box. In 1952, he won nine amateur boxing crowns, including the Olympic middleweight gold medal at the summer games in Helsinki, Finland. 

Patterson began his professional career in December 1953 with a win against Dick Wagner. Three years later, Patterson knocked out heavyweight titleholder Archie Moore in the fifth round and became what was then the youngest champion ever at the age of 21. Patterson lost the belt to Ingemar Johansson on June 26, 1959 but regained the title in a rematch with Johansson a year later. This time Patterson’s reign lasted until September 25, 1962 when he lost to Sonny Liston. 

Patterson’s last fight was in 1972, when he was knocked out by Muhammad Ali.  After 19 years of professional boxing, Floyd Patterson retired at 37 with a career record of 55 wins, eight losses, one draw and 40 knockouts. After retiring from the ring, Patterson worked with many charitable organizations and became a member of the New York State Athletic Commission, serving as one of the state’s three boxing commissioners.  Patterson died in New Paltz, New York in 2006.

The large field surrounded by a 16-foot tall fence is used for football, soccer, and baseball games. In addition, there is a 150-seat concrete amphitheater on the Newport Street end which hosts live performances. In 1997 the ball fields were reconstructed.  Floyd Patterson Field bears the name of a champion, and provides a place for future champions to play and to grow.

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