Except for what was described in the Fincastle Herald articles, I found no other local information about Norvel. Judy Barnett at the Botetourt County Historical Museum suggested there may be some people in the Eagle Rock area that might remember the Lees and I thought it could be interesting to talk with them at some point. But I was looking for information about his accomplishments in the larger world.
So, I did what we have all learned to do when investigating a subject. I typed “Norvel Lee” into the Google search engine. But there too, the information was sparse. There was a lightly populated Wikipedia page about him, but it lacked any substantive detail. Likewise I found websites focused on boxing data, and some for the Olympics where, after digging, Norvel was noted. (By the way, if you Google “Norvel Lee” today many links comes up on the first page, because of the attention he’s been given since I started the research. The Wikipedia page has been updated also).
But in September of 2016 I was about ready to throw in the towel (so to speak) when I noticed an item several pages deep on Google. It was a blog by Gary “Digital” Williams called “Boxing Along the Beltway” or BATB. The banner for BATB is the image shown above. The Google item that came up was entitled “Beltway Boxing History: Norvel Lee!” This obscure item surprisingly became the impetus that resulted in the book! Williams’s blog was centered on the greater Washington DC area boxing scene. To this day he posts information each week.
The entry I found was dated July 26, 2012, during the time of the 2012 London Olympics. The subject of the article was boxers that missed getting the accolades that later Olympic boxers did. One of them was Norvel Lee, the first Washington D.C. based gold medal winner. BATB’s large following posted many comments, some edgy. As I scanned through them I saw at the end an entry from D. Anderson. It said: “Gary, thanks so much for this article on my grandfather! Our family would like to respectfully correct your information, however. . .” Anderson went on to clarify factual errors that were in the article.
D. Anderson was Daryn Anderson, Norvel’s youngest grandchild. I contacted her through LinkedIn and on September 8, 2016 we spoke on the phone. It was the first of many email and phone conversations between her and I. It was quickly established that she and other members of Norvel’s family would be excited about me working with them to assemble material for a story about his life.
Next week I will discuss when Barbara and I met the family for the first time. In between now and then I will be virtually attending a local book club meeting who will be discussing NORVEL. Looking forward!