In celebration of Berry Gordy’s 86th birthday on 28th November, we’re taking a look at some interesting facts about his life. Many will know Gordy’s Motown story (if not, check it out here), but the Motown founder has led an interesting life outside of the Motown family. Read on to find out 10 things you never knew about the man behind the Motown sound.
1. He was a professional boxer
Before Motown, Berry Gordy left school to pursue a career as a professional boxer. He was inspired by the Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling fight in 1938, which he listened to on the family radio.
2. He fought 15 Golden Glove matches
Berry Gordy fought 15 Golden Glove matches between 1948 and 1951, winning 12 of them. In 1948, Gordy appeared on the same bill as Joe Louis.
3. Gordy served in the Korean War
His boxing career was cut short when he was recruited to serve in the Korean War. Gordy severed in the army for 2 years.
4. He has a GED
While Gordy was serving in the Army, he earned a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), the equivalent of a full high school education.
5. Berry Gordy is a vegan
6. He used to upholster cars
Gordy once worked in the Lincoln-Mercury plant assembly line, putting upholstery into cars. The monotony of the job allowed him to compose songs in his head while he worked.
7. He has 8 children
In total Gordy has eight children, including daughter Rhonda Suzanne whose mother is Motown star Diana Ross.
8. He’s related to LMFAO
His youngest son (Stefan) and grandson (Skylar) make up the duo LMFAO under the stage names Redfoo and Sky Blu.
9. Gordy is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
In 1988, Berry was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was included in the Junior Achievement U.S Business Hall of Fame.
10. He has received the Songwriters Hall of Fame pioneer award
He was the first living person to receive the honourable Songwriters Hall of Fame pioneer award in 2013.