Born on March 5, 1938, in Gary, Indiana, Fred Williamson has remained under the spotlight in various fields for a long time. Former Football player and actor, Williamson has produced and directed various movies along with being a black belt in Kenpo, Shotokan Karate and Tae-Kwon-Do.
Williamson started off his football career by playing college football for Northwestern in the 1950s, followed by a signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Williamson played at defense for this team and soon earned himself the nickname of ‘The Hammer’ for his aggressive behaviour during the game.
This deal marked the beginning of a seven year professional career in the NFL which continued to thrive in the AFL as Williamson played four and three seasons for the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs respectively. Williamsons also managed to make it to the AFL All-Star team for three consecutive years starting in 1961.
During his time with the Chiefs, Williamson continued to live up to his reputation of being knows as ‘The Hammer’ by using his forearm to deliver karate-style blows to the heads of the players from the opposing team.
Williamson’s first Super Bowl season set off to a promising start as he promised to knock down some of the best players of the Green Bay Packers with his blows. However, fate brought in an ironic outcome to Williamson’s predictions as the hammer himself was knocked out in the fourth quarter of the game after running back Donny Anderson’s knee collided with Williamson’s head. He also suffered from a broken arm after Sherrill Headrick fell on him.
After an eight season pro football career, Fred Williamson left the AFL in 1967 with 497 yards and two touchdowns. Williamson then retired entirely from football after playing briefly for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
However, Williamson was not ready to put a complete end to his success just yet. After retiring as a football player, Williamson joined Hollywood. His first few television roles included ‘Anka’ from a 1968 Star Trek episode and ‘Steve Bruce’ in the sit com, Julia.
Some of his early movies included roles in M*A*S*H, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon and the lead role in the 1975 hit, Boss Nigger. Fred Williamson continued to star in Hollywood movies which are mostly considered to belong to the ‘blaxploitation’ genre. Playing the role of an African-American in the film Black Caesar and its sequel, Hell up in Harlem, Williamson also acted alongside Peter Boyle in Crazy Joe.
Replacing Don Meredith in 1974, Williamson was selected to be Monday Night Football’s commentator by ABC television network. However, he was soon declared unsuitable for the job and became the first MNF personality to not live through a whole season. Instead, Alex Karras filled in Williamson’s shoes.
Returning to the world of films, Williamson started directing and producing movies as well, mostly those belonging to the ‘blaxploitation’ genre. One of the movies in which Williamson contributed as an actor, director and producer is Mean Johnny Barrows. Some of his other productions include Adios Amigo and Death Journey which were produced at his production house, Po’ Boy Productions, in Italy.
Between the 1990s and 2000s, Fred Williamson continued to appear on screen, be it in the form of a spokesperson for King Cobra or appearing in Snoop Doggy Dogg’s music video, Dogg Dogg World. From 2014 to the present day, Williamson continues to be an eminent spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project.