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The Rev. Dino ‘Like Boom’ Woodard passes at 79

Herb Boyd | 4/24/2014, 1:10 p.m.

“Like Boom!” was the Rev. Dino Woodard’s favorite expression, whether he was greeting you or emphasizing a point. It was as much a part of him as the generous praise and fond memories extended to him during the homegoing service on Sunday, March 8 at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

I heard about Woodard’s passing much too late to attend the services, but like the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, the church’s pastor who officiated at the services, as well as those who paid tribute to him, I have my own reflections of him I’d like to share.

When I first encountered Woodard and heard the first “boom,” he was a student in my class at the College of New Rochelle. By that time, I think he was also taking classes upstairs in the building at the New York Theological Seminary. From the first words out of his mouth, I knew he was special, and that uniqueness was shared with all the students during our wide and sometimes intense discussions.

Woodard was an excellent student, and his scholarship was unassumingly underscored by his experiences. Later, when I learned he had been a sparring partner for the immortal Sugar Ray Robinson, he became a most resourceful informant as I sought to complete a biography on the fighter.

Communicator extraordinaire Bob Law, who was among the speakers at the service, said these facts were disclosed by more than one person. Law said he knew Woodard from a number of his productive endeavors, including the days when he worked at STAX and KOKO Records as a promotions director from 1968 to 1983. “He was just as smooth and articulate in this occupation as he would later be in his ministry,” Law said. “Dino was like a brother to me, and I will miss him and his boom.”

Woodard was born July 19, 1934, in Memphis, Tenn., and was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. His funeral program related that he was the grandson of the offspring of a slave master, and therefore, very early in his life, he knew the ravages of oppression and bondage. This was something he reminded me and his colleagues of during our classroom discussions.

But it was in the boxing ring and as a Golden Gloves contender that he gathered the real hard knocks of life. During many of his training bouts with Robinson, it was his unenviable task to get the “Sugar Man” ready for the likes of Carmen Basilio and Gene Fullmer by imitating their styles. “There were times when we would tear into each other, when Sugar refused to pull his punches and I would stay right with him,” Woodard told me. “These moments only made him better, more confident when the real deal went down.”

Those nights and days in the ring soon gave way to less dangerous pursuits—the music business and education. Law reminded me that it was Woodard who gave Isaac Hayes his nickname of “Black Moses” because of the singer’s impact on his Black audiences, virtually transporting them to the Promised Land. In 1973, Woodard was named Promotion Man of the Year by the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers.