Standing Room Only Tribute For Lionel Langford

Blue Raider State Mat Champ Laid to Rest

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

In Feb. 1988, a standing room only crowd at UTC's Maclellan Gym watched as Cleveland High School senior Lionel Langford won a state championship in his last match in a Blue Raider singlet.

Thursday afternoon inside Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland, another overflow crowd paid tribute to Langford - a wrestler, husband and father - who passed away last week at 43.

Hall of Fame wrestling coach Al Miller was sitting in the corner cheering on his wrestler in 1988 as well as today.

"Lionel was a free spirit to say the least and one who had to try things his way - at least at first," said Miller with a smile.

"Eventually he would come back around to our (coaching staff) way of doing things, but he definitely had a mind of his own."

Pre-Match Donuts: Miller tells the story of Langford's pre-match meal at a tournament in December of his senior year. 

"We were at a tournament in upper East Tennessee and I made the mistake of giving each wrestler meal money for the day, instead of having team meals together," Miller stated.

"Lionel was a returning state runner-up from 1987 with a real shot at winning a state championship."

One of three wrestling Langford brothers - along with Howard (1986 state champ) and Shelton plus nephew Quantel - Lionel was not on top of his game that weekend and fell short of winning the tournament.

"I found out later that Lionel's 'pre-match meal' was a bag of white powdered donuts which led to his loss to a good Science Hill wrestler," Miller stated.

Fast forward to the 160 pound Region 1 finals in early February where Langford tech falls the same Science Hill wrestler (Brian Pardue), 25-9, and wins his state title the next weekend (Pardue placed fourth).

"LIonel had the talent, but at times he just needed the coaches to keep him on the straight and narrow," Miller said.

A wrestling champion and military vet who made his family proud, did push the envelope at times, but knew all too well the need to stay focused on the eternal straight and narrow all the way to the final whistle.

Mat Notes: Lionel's son Caleb (has graduated) and Micah (rising senior) have wrestled for Alan Morris at Walker Valley ... Lione's nephew, Quantel, wrestled for Cleveland in the mid-1990s.

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

.

 

 

 

 


PHOTOS: DecoTurf High School Tennis Championship

MICDS defeated McCallie 7-2 in a round of 16 match this morning at The Champions Club.   McCallie wins came at No. 3 doubles with Andrew Smith and Conner O'Brien and Charlie Thel victorious at No. 6 singles.   McCallie also was scheduled to play at  1 p.m.  against Winter Park.   Baylor is scheduled to play at  4 p.m. and 7:30 ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: When Baseball Was King

I came across an interesting television program while channel surfing last night. It was a documentary about George Herman "Babe" Ruth; the man still considered to be the greatest baseball player who ever lived. Even though I already knew most of this story, I still marveled at the way Babe played the game....back when Baseball was King. As you likely already know, Babe started ... (click for more)

Robber Who Was Shot At Rossville Boulevard Car Lot Dies; No Charges To Be Filed

Police said a person who was shot during a robbery attempt at a car lot at 4314 Rossville Blvd. around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday has died. Police said the shooting has been ruled a "justifiable homicide" and no charges will be brought against 27-year-old Alan Miller. The shooting in which the robbery victim shot the suspect was at Miller Auto Sales. (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

The Problems With Prescription Drug Addiction - And Response

In Tennessee today, we have a major problem with prescription drug addiction, particularly when powerful opioid pain relievers are concerned.    For the first time in 2012, Tennesseans abused prescription opioid drugs more than alcohol.  Our young people ages 18-25 abuse prescription opioids at a 30 percent higher rate than the national average.  In just five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Hillman Of Bihar

In the year of our Lord, 1927, there was a very poor child born to a very poor family in a very poor place. His name was Dasrath Manjhi and he was a native of the Musahar community somewhere in India. We know he had no education and, as a member of the lowest Hindu scheduled castes, he didn’t have a cut dog’s chance from the very get go. But after spending considerable time in ... (click for more)