Born in Florence, S.C., Summerford began boxing at age 16. A man with knockout power in both hands, he managed to land a multitude of punches because of his speed. Many of Summerford’s opponents commented that his were the most devastating punches they had ever felt.
An all-around athlete in high school, he was co-captain of the football team, captain of the boxing team and played baseball for both school and the American Legion. Summerford also served as class president.
As a boxer, Summerford won amateur tournaments in both Carolinas. He was the Carolinas Golden Gloves Open Featherweight Champion in 1948, capturing titles along with Pappy Gault (flyweight) and Neil Wallace (heavyweight.) His championship win came against a tough, experienced boxer in Ben Maciel of the 82nd Airborne. Summerford emerged victorious from the bout after three rounds of total war, but he broke a hand in the match and couldn’t represent the team in New York City.
Summerford compiled a 53-3 record before hanging up the gloves. As active after boxing as he was in high school, Summerford has been a Cub Scout leader, Sunday school teacher and the head trustee of his church. A retired co-owner of Summerford Heating and Air Conditioning, he and his wife, Betty, have three children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.