Nathan Boya (July 28, 1924 – August 8, 2022; real name William Fitzgerald) was the first African American to go over Niagara Falls. Very little is known about Fitzgerald. He claimed to be self-employed, but others have claimed he worked for IBM. On July 15, 1961, Fitzgerald went over the Horseshoe Falls in a metal ball he helped design called the "Plunge-O-Sphere". Performing stunts on the Falls could only be performed with permission, following the death of William Hill, Jr in 1951. Fitzgerald did not obtain a permit to do his stunt and was arrested and fined after completing it.[1] After the flurry of appearances after his plunge, Fitzgerald did not make public appearances until 1985, when he attended Karel Soucek's funeral and in 1988 protesting discriminatory actions against a scientist he called "Dr. X".[2][3]

Nathan Boya appeared as a contestant on I've Got a Secret on August 30, 1961. His secret was "I went over Niagara Falls in a 6-foot ball." Bill Cullen and Betsy Palmer questioned him. The other panelists, Henry Morgan and Bess Myerson, recognized him. He was later a contestant on To Tell The Truth on an episode that aired January 15, 1962. Three of the four members of the celebrity panel (Tom Poston, Dina Merrill and Johnny Carson) guessed him correctly; Betty White did not.

Interviewed in 2012 for a National Geographic television special about Niagara Falls daredevils, Fitzgerald revealed his reason for his stunt after decades of silence: he had broken off his engagement to a woman whom he felt he had wronged, and he performed the dangerous stunt as a form of penance. Niagara Falls had been their planned honeymoon destination.

Later in life, Fitzgerald moved to Bangkok, Thailand and authored two novels.[4] A 1943 graduate of Kingston High School, Kingston, New York, at age 93, in 2018, he endowed a yearly scholarship in the names of his parents: Augustus and Sarah FitzGerald.[5][6] Fitzgerald died on August 8, 2022, at the age of 98.[7][8]


  • FitzGerald, William (2015). Up Against the Wall You Spic Bastard: I'm Going to Blow Your Goddamn Head Off. [New York]: William FitzGerald. ISBN 978-1-5146-6515-2. OCLC 953833139.
  • FitzGerald, William (2015). Wanted By Mafia: Hyawatha Two-Feathers: Either Dead Or Alive. [New York]: William FitzGerald. ISBN 978-1-5169-1183-7. OCLC 953833131.

See also



  1. ^ "Daredevils of Niagara Falls". 12 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Daredevils of Niagara Falls". 12 August 2011. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  3. ^ Time (21 July 1961). Bill Mauldin, Whittaker Chambers, Nathan Boya : Niagara.
  4. ^ Glynn, Don (29 December 2015). "Former Falls daredevil turns author". Niagara Gazette. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  5. ^ Zangla, Ariél (24 June 2018). "Kingston High grad who went over Niagara Falls creates scholarship". Daily Freeman. Archived from the original on 10 March 2020. Retrieved 2020-03-10. FitzGerald's brother, Leon, was one of the first African-American members of the Kingston Police Department. Leon FitzGerald was present when his brother made his trip over the falls.[...] Now living in Thailand, the 1943 graduate of Kingston High School contacted high school Principal Kirk Reinhardt this spring about creating a $20,000 (equivalent to $24,267 in 2023) scholarship for graduating seniors, the school district said in a press release. The scholarship is named in honor of his parents, Augustus and Sarah FitzGerald. According to the release, FitzGerald, 93, is a research scientist and author. A passionate writer, FitzGerald asked that the scholarship be awarded to students who display promise in the field of writing, the release said.
  6. ^ "Scholarship Listing 2020 | Scholarship Name & Criteria" (PDF). Kingston City School District. 25 February 2020. Augustus & Sarah FitzGerald Memorial Scholarship - Applicants must be Black/African American, display writing talent and display an interest in becoming a writer or author. Students who demonstrate financial need will be given first consideration.
  7. ^ "Remembering the life of William FitzGerald 1924 - 2022".
  8. ^ "Niagara Falls daredevil dies at 98".