Howard “Sandman” Sims was a legend of the Apollo Theater, chasing the bad acts off the stage after crowds boo’ed their performance. He did his Apollo routine for 17 years. Sims got his nickname “Sandman” from tap dancing on sand in his performances.

Howard Sims is a native of Los Angeles, CA. In 1947, he and a friend went to New York in search of the next phase in entertainment.

Even the Sandman had a tough time on the early Apollo stage at the start of his career. He told some contestants that he had to do his act 10 times before he actually made it all the way through. Once he did, he competed and won 25 times in a row. Because of his big wins, the Apollo changed its winner limit to four times.

He was a legend on the stage, teaching famous dancers like Gregory Hines and Ben Vereen. Sims also helped champion boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali build fancy footwork in the ring. Sims himself started off as a boxer, but realized he wouldn’t make it in that profession. His dance steps were sparked from his movement in the rosin box before a boxing match.

Little Known Black History Fact: Howard ‘Sandman’ Sims  was originally published on

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