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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jews at the Elite Level

The years 2009 and 2010 saw several impactful matches to the wider boxing world which featured Jewish participants. In 2009, Yuri Foreman won the WBA light middleweight belt and there were three other world title fights involving Jewish boxers. In the first half of 2011, two bouts with a Jewish competitor have reached that level.

On March 12, Yuri Foreman made his comeback fight against Pawel Wolak on the undercard of the Cotto-Mayorga pay per view event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Foreman had been rated in The Ring's top 10 in the world junior middleweight rankings.

But Yuri was flat on that night. Wolak won a 6th round TKO, earning him a place as the 7th best 154-pound fighter in the world according to The Ring. Of his performance, Foreman said, "I was weak and not present. I guess I rushed in to fighting without [being] physically and mentally ready." Foreman has since decided to take some time off before reconsidering his future in the sport.

On April 2, Ran Nakash, taking the fight on short notice, battled WBO cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck. Nakash lost a unanimous decision in a fight that probably should've been deemed a draw. Nakash started out strong, but faded during the latter half of the contest and, with the fight in Germany, he never had a chance on the scorecards.

The immediate future for the current crop of Jewish boxers does appear bright. Nakash proved himself to be a legitimate contender, but the hardnose Israeli may have placed himself out of a meaningful fight. He showed his tremendous ability against Huck, but between his relative anonymity and his newfound status as a dangerous fighter, it's possible he won't face a world class opponent any time soon.

Alexander Frenkel's prospects are likely better than his fellow Jewish cruiserweight. The Ukrainian-born resident of Germany faces Silvio Branco in July, which isn't on the level of a world class fight. But an impressive showing could find the undefeated Frenkel against a top cruiserweight in his next bout.

Dmitriy Salita has won three fights since losing in his title shot back in 2009. His fans look for him to face stiffer competition on his way towards boxing relevance. Nakash, Frenkel, and Salita look to extend this wave of Jewish boxing a bit further into the future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Melson to Fight in First of Salita's Monthly Boxing Series

Dmitriy Salita's promotional company is planning on starting a monthly boxing series called Brighton Shore Fights to be held at the Oceana in Brooklyn, New York. The first installment is scheduled for Wednesday July 20. Boyd Melson (4-0, 2 KOs) is penciled in to participate on the card.

Melson, who donates his purses to the cause of stem cell research for spinal cord injuries, has been active of late. On May 19, he knocked out Hector Rivera in the first round. On June 10, he stopped Kelvin Kibler in the third. No opponent has been named as of yet for this bout.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Look Back: King Levinsky

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.

King Levinsky, sometimes referred to as Kingfish Levinsky, fought some of the best heavyweights of the 1930s. He usually didn't win, but he fought them. Well, sometimes he fought them; other times he just happened to be in the ring with them at the same time.

King Levinsky was born Harris Krakow on September 10, 1910 in New York, New York. The family moved to Chicago when he was very young. His father was a fishmonger in the Maxwell Street ghetto and King helped out in his father's shop. Levinsky had two brothers and four sisters, including Lena Levy, his manager. King dropped out of school in the fourth grade before learning to read.

Though he participated in street fights while growing up, Levinsky's choice to become a prizefighter was a bit curious. Hurting others wasn't in his personality. And he tended to exhibit clownish antics. His career began inauspiciously enough as his first fight was a decision loss to a previously winless boxer in 1928.

Things picked up to a degree and Levinsky faced future heavyweight champion Primo Carnera in 1931. Levinsky lost a ten-round decision. He lost two grueling fights- a ten round and then a twenty round decision- to Max Baer in 1932. But Kingfish defeated the great Jack Dempsey on February 18, 1932, in front of 20,000 fans. The bout was scheduled to be a four-round exhibition as part of Dempsey's comeback. On the advice on his sister Lena, Levinsky fought his heart out-unusual for an exhibition- and earned a decision victory. Dempsey never fought again.

The King was known for a wild right hand that was his trademark. It was a punch he telegraphed and yet it still managed to find the target on occasion. The 5'11" brawler used his left hand in the ring about as much as a Delhi native uses it to eat. But while the Delhiite has a good reason for not using his left- it is used for bathroom hygiene- only Levinsky knows why he didn't use his.

At the end of 1932, Levinsky lost to Carnera once again. But he handily beat former world champion Jack Sharkey on September 18, 1933. On December 28, 1934, Levinsky was scheduled to engage Baer is four round exhibition. His sister Lena devised the same strategy that had beaten Dempsey and had subsequently gotten her brother fights against notable opponents. Levinsky came out aggressive in the first round, even utilizing an effective jab. Baer was so furious he knocked the King senseless in the second stanza.

Levinsky was often criticized for flailing about and otherwise acting like a buffoon in the ring. Besides that dubious reputation, he is perhaps best known for his fight against Joe Louis on August 7, 1938. Levinsky was his usual brash self during the introductions, but put up little resistance once the bell rang. Some have accused him of fainting out of fright while facing Louis. In reality, he was severely overmatched. He succumbed to Louis's onslaught, going down, down again, and again, and finally for the fourth time before the referee stepped in and stopped the contest. Levinsky made it 2:21 seconds into the fight before the TKO came.

Levinsky finished fighting in 1939. After four straight losses and seven out of his last eight, the commission would not renew his license. Kingfish was famously a schlemiel and a terrible gambler. He was subsequently inducted into the army during World War II. The man who had grown up with Barney Ross and had been on friendly terms with Al Capone became a tie salesman in Miami Beach in his later years with his third wife. He died on September 30, 1991.

Max Baer vs. Kingfish Levinsky
December 28, 1934
Chicago Stadium
Chicago, Illinois

Joe Louis vs. Kingfish Levinsky
August 7, 1935
Comiskey Park
Chicago, Illinois

Berkow, Ira. Maxwell Street: Survival in a Bazaar. 1977.
Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers Hall of Fame. 1988.
Century, Douglas. Barney Ross. 2006.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Boyd Melson vs. Kelvin Kibler

June 10, 2011
Roseland Ballroom
New York, New York

round 1

round 2

round 3

Melson: yellow and black trunks
Kibler: blue trunks, white trim

Friday, June 10, 2011

Melson Gets Another KO

Junior middleweight Boyd Melson knocked out Kelvin Kibler at 1:30 of the third round in their bout held tonight at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York. Kibler had been ineffective for much of the fight and, after receiving an overhand left, referee Benjy Esteves stepped in to stop the bout.

Melson, who weighed in at 154 pounds, advanced to 4-0 with two KOs. Kibler, who was 152, fell to 0-6-2. Melson will donate his purse to support stem cell research for spinal cord injuries (http://www.justadollarplease.org).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cruiserweight Update

It is being reported that Ran Nakash is scheduled to face Lou Del Valle on July 23 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Nakash (25-1, 18 KOs) and Del Valle (36-6-2, 22 KOs) were going to fight last summer, but Del Valle backed out. Nakash ended up defeating Victor Barragan by unanimous decision instead.

Nakash is coming off of a gritty performance in a decision loss to beltholder Marco Huck in April. Del Valle, who will be 43 years old at the time of the contest, hasn't fought in the ring since before he was supposed to take on Nakash a year ago.

The bout between Alexander Frenkel (23-0, 18 KOs) and Silvio Branco (61-10-2, 37 KOs) will apparently be postponed and should take place in July. It is still scheduled to take place in Civitavecchia, Italy. Frenkel's opponent, Branco, is even older than Nakash's, Del Valle, as he is turning 45 in August.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Quick Turnaround for Melson

Junior middleweight Boyd Melson, who just fought last month, is scheduled to get back into the ring on June 10 on the Boricua Invasion card, which will take place at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York.

Melson (3-0, 1 KO) defeated Hector Rivera by TKO in 44 seconds on May 19 in a fight which also took place at the Roseland. He is penciled in to face 5'10" Kelvin Kibler (0-5-2) from South Carolina in a four-round bout.

About the quick turnaround, Melson said, "It is a blessing to be able to compete again a few weeks later. We had our best camp heading into our last fight in comparison to our camps for our previous two fights, and this good fortune allowed us to pick right back up where we left off without any interruption."

Melson will again donate his purse to Justadollarplease, an organization dedicated to stem cell research for spinal cord injuries.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Foreman to Reconsider Boxing Career in a Year

After his first two career losses, Yuri Foreman plans to stay away from the ring... at least for a while. Foreman told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "I'm about to take a year off from boxing," at which point he will decide whether or not to resume his boxing career.

Foreman said he will now "focus on things I always wanted to do but never had time for." One of them includes running in his first race.

Foreman (28-2, 8 KOs), arguably the best Jewish boxer of the past few decades, won the WBA junior middleweight title from Daniel Santos on November 14, 2009. He valiantly defended the title against Miguel Cotto on June 5, 2010 during the first boxing event in the new Yankee Stadium. After tearing his ACL, Foreman continued to fight, but came up short. Foreman was admittedly flat in his last fight against Pawel Wolak this past March 12.

Best wishes to Yuri Foreman and his family in whatever he decides.