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Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Look Back: Abraham Rosenberg

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

Abraham Rosenberg only had two professional fights, but was a well-regarded amateur. His career is all the more impressive considering he survived the Holocaust.

Rosenberg, sometimes spelled Rozenberg, was born in Sosnowiec, Poland in 1928. Raised Orthodox, he spent part of his childhood surviving the Holocaust. There is some dispute about his experience during the war. In one account, he entered labor and concentration camps at the tender age of 11 and was shipped between Theresienstadt, Buchenwald, Markstädt, Gross Rosen, and Fünfteichen before fleeing to Scotland and attended school in Glasgow by the time the war ended in 1945 (The Jewish Criterion, 1955). In another account, Abraham was part of the kindertransport and was transported to Glasgow before the war began (AJR, 1950).

In either case, Rosenberg was in Glasgow- where he learned to box- as World War II ended; there he figured his family had all perished in the Holocaust until he discovered that his father was living in Frankfurt, Germany. Abraham then joined his father in Germany.

Rosenberg was a heavyweight who was a respected amateur. By 1950, he was living in Friedberg, Germany and had won the Hessian Amateur Boxing Tournament held in Kasse, representing the Frankfurt Boxing Club. On July 29, 1951, he lost to Lothar Rau on points in the finals of the German amateur championships in Hamburg.

On August 27, 1951, Rosenberg lost to Norvel Lee by decision in a bout in Germany. Lee, who went on to win a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in the light heavyweight division, fought and soundly defeated future heavyweight champion Ingemar Johannson four days after defeating Rosenberg. On October 17, Rosenberg defeated an Englishman named R. Miles in London, England. That same year, Rosenberg's father moved to Philadelphia. Abraham was stuck behind in Germany because of bureaucratic obstacles.

Rosenberg won the gold medal in the heavyweight division at the fourth Maccabiah Games in 1953. Because Germany did not field a team, Rosenberg represented France in the Games.

In 1955, he made it to the semifinals of the German amateur championships where he lost by way of third round TKO to former national champion, Horst Witterstein. By that point, Rosenberg had fought in 110 bouts and the loss to Witterstein was only the second time he had been stopped.

On January 16, 1956, Rosenberg made his professional debut. He fought in St. Nicolas Arena in New York, New York. Outweighed by 17.5 pounds, Rosenberg lost a six round decision to an experienced fighter with a losing record, George Washington. As of this writing, a ticket to the fight is being auctioned on ebay. Washington would later become a trainer and a couple of his notable charges include heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe and Olympic gold medalist  and world champion Mark Brelan.

Rosenberg's next fight didn't come for another two years. Rosenberg, nicknamed Romme, dropped a four round decision to a winless fighter, Walter Hauff, in Berlin, Germany on February 28, 1958. He never fought professionally again

Not much is known of Rosenberg's life after boxing. A Shoah Foundation entry fits his description and asserts Abraham Rozenberg lived in Germany and gave an interview about his experiences in the war in 2000.

"Concentration Camp Graduate Reaches Boxing Semi-Finals." The Jewish Criterion. June 3, 1955.
"From My Diary." AJR Information. August, 1950. Page 6.
Shoah Foundation entry on Abraham Rozenberg. This entry fits what we know about Abraham Rosenberg from Sosnowiec, Poland from other sources. Rozenberg (from the entry) was born in 1928, date unknown. The Jewish Criterion article claims Rosenberg was 11 when he was first taken to a labor camp and since the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the dates match. The interview was conducted in German in Germany, which fits because Rosenberg was in Germany well over a decade after the end of the Holocaust, unusual for most survivors. The entry seems to second The Jewish Criterion article that Rosenberg was interned in several labor and concentration camps, although the article says he escaped to Glasgow before the end of the war while the entry claims Rozenberg was in a displaced person camp after the war. An AJR article claims Rosenberg was shipped to Glasgow as a child before the war.


  1. Thanks to you, Abe still lives. Nice job of research.

    1. Please let me know how I could contact Abraham Rosenberg. It is of the utmost importance to me. Especially if he lived in Frankfurt am Main 1957 and 1958. This is VERY imporant. Thanks in advance. My email is wbruckmeier@hotmail.de.
      With Kind regards, Winfried Bruckmeier

  2. Dear Gerry,
    Unfortunatelly we don´t know each other. My name is Yuval Roznberg and I´m Abe´s youngest son. Sadly my father passed away on the 3rd of January 2012 only two days after his 84th birthday. Did you know my father? All the best, Yuval