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Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Look Back: Abe Hollandersky

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.

Abe "Newsboy" Hollandersky never ran from a fight. It didn't matter if he was facing the toughest man in his weight division, someone well above it, or even an animal, Hollandersky was ready to fight.

Abraham Hollandersky was born in Berznick, Russia on December 3, 1888. When Abe was a small boy, his father was a pants presser who moved to America in hopes of sending for his family. Sadly, his father became blind before his family join him in the U.S. Abe, his brother, and his mother moved to Manchester, England where Abe began hocking newspapers.

Eventually, the family moved to New London, Connecticut where Abe continued to sell papers instead of going to school. He made his pro debut in 1905. He stood 5'4" and usually fought as a welterweight. The following year, as legend goes, he met President Theodore Roosevelt while selling newspapers near the naval base in New London. Evidently, Roosevelt grabbed him by the ears and said, "A Jew won't fight." Hollandersky lightly popped the prez in the stomach, much to Roosevelt's approval.

When Abe was 19 years old, he won  the world welterweight wrestling championship. Later in his career, he fought a jujitsu master. He once took on a bear (a real one) in a wrestling match, a bout that ended when The Newsboy started illegally punching the bear. He also squared off against a boxing kangaroo (Abe, not the bear). Hollandersky was knocked clear out of the ring when the kangaroo unethically smacked him with his tail.

On May 5, 1910, he fought two guys in one night. On May 30, 1913, Hollandersky battled Jack Ortega for the Panama heavyweight championship. Abe weighed 145 pounds while Ortega weighed 190. Abe won when Ortega disqualified himself to avoid the humiliation of being knocked out. In the rematch two and a half months later, the same result occurred.

Hollandersky was a tiny, but incredibly strong brawler who didn't worry about the finer intricacies of the sport of boxing. He was legendarily tough as well. Hollandersky fought light heavyweight Kid Norfolk on January 18, 1914 in Panama in a grueling 25 round loss.

Abe believed he fought in over 1,000 contests of all different varieties, his last coming in 1932. His true record will likely never be known. After his fighting career, Hollandersky found some bit parts in the movies. He is reported to have died in 1966.

Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers Hall of Fame. 1988.

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