Have news relating to Jewish boxers? Email the editor here!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Look Back: Barney Ross

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will present monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

Barney Ross is widely considered to hold the number two spot on the list of the greatest Jewish boxers of all time. Ross was the lightweight, junior welterweight, and welterweight champion of the world... at the same time! He captured the welterweight title twice. Known as the "Pride of the Ghetto," Ross defeated the likes of Tony Canzoneri, Billy Petrolle, Jimmy McLarnin, and Ceferino Garcia, beating each multiple times.

Born Dov-Ber Rasofsky in 1909, Barney Ross spent his formative years in the tough Maxwell Street ghetto in Chicago, which was filled with mobsters such as Al Capone. He was known as Beryl during his youth and was a lifelong friend of Jack Ruby, the murderer of Lee Harvey Oswald. His father was murdered in his store when Ross was 13 years old. His mother subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown and Ross's younger siblings were put in an orphanage. Earning enough money to support his younger siblings became the motivating factor in his boxing career.

Ross was a renowned amateur boxer. Training out of mobster Davey Miller's gym, he had his first professional fight in 1929. Ross quickly amassed a sterling pro record fighting on the undercard of Jackie Fields's fights. In 1933, with a record of 43-2-2, Ross took on the lightweight and junior welterweight champion of the world, Tony Canzoneri. He defeated the two-division champion by split decision to capture both belts. After defending the junior welterweight belt, he defeated Canzoneri by split decision to keep both titles. A year later Ross won the welterweight championship by earning a split decision victory over Jimmy McLarnin in a fight that saw the judges mark widely divergent scores.

Ross lost his next fight, a rematch against McLarnin to lose the welterweight belt. That continued a bizarre streak involving failed welterweight title defenses. That streak continued the next time Ross and McLarnin met in the ring. By this point, Ross had voluntarily abdicated his lightweight and junior welterweight championships. Ross earned the welterweight tile for the second time after unanimously out-pointing McLarnin.

Following the third McLarnin bout, Ross endured three tough matches with Ceferino Garcia, the master of the bolo punch. Less than year after the final fight with Garcia, Ross entered the ring against the legendary Henry Armstrong in 1938. Ross had often mentioned that he would retire after suffering his first true beating in the ring. Armstrong afforded Ross the opportunity to stay true to his word. Ross was universally lauded for his courage, but Armstrong snatched the welterweight crown from Ross by unanimous decision, ending Ross's career with a record of 72-4-3, 22 KOs (and two newspaper decision victories).

At the commencement of World War II, Ross joined the Marines and was heroic in the battle of Guadalcanal. He was wounded and received morphine to dull the tremendous pain. The morphine treatment transformed into a heroin habit when Ross returned to the United States. After much struggle, Ross was able to kick the habit and became an advocate for those afflicted by drug addiction. Afterwards, Ross ran guns and raised funds to help fight for a Jewish state. Ross's tremendous journey ended in 1967 at the age of 57.

Jimmy McLarnin vs. Barney Ross III
May 28, 1935
New York, New York
World Welterweight Championship
part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

Bodner, Allen. When Boxing was a Jewish Sport. 1997.
Century, Douglas. Barney Ross. 2006.
Dettloff, William. "Barney Ross is a tough act for Yuri Foreman to follow." The Ring Blog. 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment