William Dunavant, Jr
Class of 2015
Racquet Club Of Memphis Developer, 1972
U.S. National Indoors Promoter for Memphis Event
Rivalry with Bobby Riggs
Owner of USFL Memphis Showboats 1984,1985
William B. Dunavant, Jr is a native Tennessean and Chairman of the Board of Dunavant Enterprises, Inc in Memphis. He graduated from the McCallie School in Chattanooga, attended Vanderbilt University, and graduated from the University of Memphis. Dunavant is one of the leading sportmen in Tennessee history as an athlete, avid hunter, fisherman, conservationist, and sports entrepreneur. He built Dunavant Enterprises into the world's largest cotton merchandising company. He put Tennessee on the global cotton map when he made the first sale of U.S.- grown cotton to China in 1972.
As an accomplished amateur athlete, Dunavant won numerous tennis and golf tournaments. His love of tennis led him to a rivalry with Bobby Riggs and promoting events at the Racquet Club of Memphis.
In 1984 and 1985, Dunavant was the owner of the US Football League's Memphis Showboats. Dunavant signed former University of Tennessee star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White to his first professional contract. He led the pursuit of an NFL expansion franchise for Memphis. Since 1994 his organization has managed the Autozone Liberty Bowl Football Classic.
As a major donor and contributor to Ducks Unlimited, he spearheaded the campaign and is credited as the key figure in bringing Ducks Unlimited world headquarters to Memphis from Chicago in 1992. He has been a leader in preserving Tennessee's reputation in conservation and outdoor sports.