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Friday, November 30, 2012

A Look Back: Herbie Kronowitz

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.

Herbie Kronowitz died earlier this month at the age of 89. Kronowitz was a fearsome middleweight contender during one of the golden ages of professional boxing.

Ted Kronowitz was born in 1923 in New York. He grew up in Brooklyn and would get into street fights as a kid. World champion middleweight Ben Jeby lived nearby and helped Ted develop an interest in boxing. Kronowitz assumed his big brother Herb's name when he applied for an amateur boxing license because Ted wasn't old enough to do so. Kronowitz turned pro at the age of 17.

Kronowitz won his first ten fights as a lightweight and didn't lose until his 26th bout. His mother did not approve of his boxing career, but his father was proud of him. Herbie loved the adulation success produced. He fought at Madison Square Garden numerous times. St. Nicholas Arena, Broadway Arena, and Ebbets Field were other frequent haunts for the pugilist.

Kronowitz was tall for his weight, which slowly progressed upward through the years, at 5'10". He could box, but he was most known for his toughness. Herbie would fight anyone at any time, even if an opponent had a difficult style. Herbie was most amped when an opponent had an anti-Semitic word for him. But some observers felt Kronowitz was poorly managed. He never obtained fights with some of the bigger named fighters of his day.

In 1942, Kronowitz left the sport to join the Coast Guard and restarted his boxing career in 1946 as a middleweight. He fought Pete Mead four times from 1946-1948. All four bouts were wars. Mead fell three times, but was awarded the victory in three of the bouts. Herbie also fought Artie Levine, a renown middleweight, at the Garden. It was Kronowitz's first time headlining.

That bout took place on March 7, 1947. Levine was given the decision by three scores of 6-3-1. Kronowitz took on Harold Green on June 19, 1947. He battered the tough Green for ten rounds and won a unanimous decision. Kronowitz was given the title of middleweight champion of Brooklyn as a result of the victory.

The winner of Kronowitz-Green was supposed to fight Jake LaMotta. But that fight never materialized. Herbie believed he had the right style to beat LaMotta. LaMotta was short and stocky as was Green. Green had a better punch, but LaMotta was tougher, according to Kronowitz. Tony Zale, Marcel Cerdan, and Rocky Graziano were other potential opponents who ducked Herbie.

Kronowitz's record was 55-23-5. He contended that most of those losses were dubious. Herbie admitted that he maybe legitimately lost four of those fights. He lost his last six fights and retired from the ring in 1950. In retirement, Kronowitz was a referee in New York for nearly thirty years. He died on November 9, 2012.

As one fan wrote after Herbie's death, "His record also speaks to the politics that have always beset boxing- if you did not have the right connections, even with the talent you had a much harder road to travel. He clearly had the talent to be a world champion if he had those connections. He was a mensch all of his days, and I don't think you can do any better than that."

Bodner, Allen. When Boxing was a Jewish Sport. 1997.
Silver, Mike. "Herbie Kronowitz 1923-2012." Boxing.com. 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Very happy to see this interesting piece here. I knew his son as a kid growing up in Coney Island during the 1960's. We went to school together. I remember he told me his dad was a pro boxer.