By Spencer Stueve
Hardiman Cureton is a largely forgotten name, even at his old high school. Cureton was born in Duarte, California, but he would make a name for himself in Monrovia.
In the fall of 1951, the Monrovia Wildcats football fielded one of their greatest teams in school history, and their best player was Hardiman Cureton. During football season, Cureton would bulk up to 240 pounds, massive at the time. He was big, yet still lean, and incredibly strong. He was built like a truck, and moved with great fluidity. He was one of the greatest athletes at the Southern California prep level, and he was multitalented. When football season ended, he slimmed down nearly 30 pounds and was a sprinter on the Monrovia track team. He was brilliant.
Following his standout high school career, Cureton wanted to attend UCLA and play under legendary football coach Red Sanders. He had work to do on his grades, however, and he would first attend Valley Junior College. Cureton would transfer to UCLA in time for the 1953 football season and his college career would be tremendous.
In 1953, Cureton was a starting offensive guard on the Pacific Coast Conference winning Bruins football squad. In ’54, he was an honorable mention All-American on UCLA’s national championship winning squad. One year later, he was a consensus All-American, and UCLA won the PCC for the third year in a row. As a senior, he was named team Captain, the first African American captain at UCLA. Following his playing career at UCLA, he would play in the Canadian Football League for nine seasons, five times being named to the CFL East All-Star team, and winning the Grey Cup in 1963.
Cureton died on October 1, 2003, and Duarte, Monrovia, and UCLA lost one of their own, one of the greatest. In 2005, Cureton was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.