Gadsden: the original City of Champions – with copyright


Gadsden has been known as the City of Champions for many years. But do you know that other cities also share the name? The only different is that Gadsden was the first to have it trademarked.
Some of the others are:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: so named for the city’s response to the tornado of July 31, 1987 and also for sporting success during 1980s.
Edmonton, Tampa, Florida: so named on the road sign Welcome to Tampa
Brockton, Massachusetts: so named after boxers who fought out of the city, e.g. Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: so named during the 1970s and early 1980s for seven titles in nine years and again during the late 2000s for three titles in four years.
Boston, Massachusetts: so named during the 2000s for sporting success. All four teams won seven championships within ten years.
Boston and Pittsburg have labeled the City of Champions on sports memorabilia, posters, magazine covers after winning a lot of titles:
The origin of the slogan in Gadsden is a little cloudy, but all agree it originated after a high school band and a little league baseball team won national titles in the late 1950s and former Mayor Hugh Patterson appeared on a radio program to congratulate the band.
The late Charlie Boman of Gadsden remembered the night he was broadcasting at WGAD and broadcast a telephone conversation with Rip Reagan, the band director who was with the Emma Sansom High School Band in New York. The band had just won a national title.
Boman said he said, “Gadsden is a city of champions,” and Patterson grabbed his hand and said, “l like that.”
The late Joe Barnes, a local historian, said Patterson replied. “l second that motion.”
Charles Boman, who died in 2012, also known as Charlie B, has been described by one of his broadcasting competitors as “the grass roots American broadcaster that makes our free enterprise system what it is.”
Charlie had an amazing 31 year broadcasting career as well as one of the highest recognized civic careers with his beloved city of Gadsden.
Both Barnes and Boman said a fourth man may have been involved in the broadcast but they don’t remember who it was. At any rate, the slogan stuck at that point.
In addition to the band and baseball teams, world champions ranging from a boat racer to a weaver at the old Dwight Mill have come from Gadsden.
Back in 1982, the City of Gadsden with Mayor Steve Means, Commissioner Tony Reynolds, and Commissioner George Sizemore obtained a government copyright for its 24 year-old “City of Champions” slogan, much to the delight of some and much to the chagrin of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which also bills itself as a “City of Champions.”
Before Gadsden obtained this copyright, Gadsden businessman Ha-rold “Johnny” Johnson in 1980, suggested that the city get a copyright on the slogan.
The city attorney at the time, Roger Kirby, filed an application the following year.
It took two years but on Oct. 12, the city received official notification that the trademark and patent office had issued Certificate of Registration Number 1212822 for the slogan.
The Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce officials were not at all amused about this.
The directors of civic affairs there said that people had talked with the copyright office and had been told that slogans could be used by anyone and could not be copyrighted. It had appeared on beer mugs and similar items there.
The director said Pittsburgh had been called a City of Champions because of the winning ways of the Pittsburg Steelers professional football team, the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball team and the University of Pittsburgh Panther football team.
The mayor one day used the slogan in a speech and it stuck. “You are a City of Champions.” he said.
The question was soon brought up in those days: “Will Gadsden take any action to prevent Pittsburgh from using the slogan?”
Answered city attorney Roger Kirby, “I don’t know. We haven’t even discussed that,” he said.
And the City of Gadsden never did. All the other cities that carry the “ City of Champions” name today have champions, but the City of Gadsden was the original and continues to have the greatest champions.

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