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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Sinakin Off November 27 Card

Light heavyweight "Bulldog" Benny Sinakin (6-1, 3 KOs) is off the November 27 card at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. He had originally been aiming to fight on September 17 but was rescheduled for the November date.

It has been a tough year for most of us but especially Benny. Sinakin, a 24 year old from Philadelphia, suffered his first career loss in his last fight. In April, the Jewish Bulldog dropped a majority decision to Afunwa King.

In the run-up to that fight, Benny acknowledged he faced numerous distractions. More significantly, one of his coaches, who had acted as a dear mentor to him, passed away over the summer.

Best wishes and much love to Benny.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Basin Stopped in the First

Nikita Basin took a huge step up in facing Joel "El Toro" McIntyre tonight at South Parade Pier in Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom. McIntyre, a former English light heavyweight titlist, was a veteran of 22 fights and 122 rounds heading into tonight's fight. Basin, by contrast, had acquired just six rounds of pro boxing experience in four bouts.

McIntyre spent little time in dispensing with his Israeli foe, who was a last-minute replacement. El Toro landed a huge right hand that stopped Basin thirty seconds into the contest.

This was a cruiserweight bout as the scales read 182 pounds for McIntyre and 181.3 for Basin at yesterday's weigh-in. This was the heaviest of Basin's career and the second heaviest of McIntyre's. Both were coming off of career-long layoffs. Basin hadn't fought in 21 months while McIntyre last fought three years ago.

Basin is now 4-1 with 4 KOs. McIntyre is 19-4 with 4 KOs.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Nikita Basin to Fight Joel McIntyre Saturday

Light heavyweight Nikita Basin is scheduled to fight Joel "El Toro" McIntyre on Saturday, October 23 at South Parade Pier in McIntyre's hometown of Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom. Basin is a late replacement for Lewis Van Poetsch. Coincidentally, Lewis has fought and fallen to two Jewish boxers, Danny Ahrens and Tony Milch.

Basin was born in Belarus and now lives in Israel. After a late start in the pro game, he is 4-0 with 4 KOs. Basin has fought a total of six professional rounds. All four of his fights took place between July 2019 and January 2020. He last fought in a professional boxing match 21 months ago. His opponents sported a combined 1-15 record when he faced them. McIntyre is a giant step up.

McIntyre's career can be spun in different ways. On the positive side, he is a former English light heavyweight champion with a 18-4 record. All of his losses have been at the hands of men who have held the English light heavyweight belt at some point in their careers. Two of them came against Miles Shinkwin and another to Liam Conroy. His other loss came in a funky tournament in which he dropped a three-round decision to Doc Spelman after dropping him in the second stanza.

McIntyre has virtually all of the advantages heading into this fight. At 33 years old, he's a bit younger than Basin. He has loads more pro more experience, has fought the better opposition, and he's fighting in his hometown.

On the negative side, McIntyre has only three wins against fighters with a winning record. In his second pro fight, he beat a 13-12 opponent on points. Another win came against Shinkwin, who he has lost to twice. And the other win came against a 7-2 foe in a three-round decision in that weird tournament.

McIntyre has only three KOs on his record; Basin has four. Despite having more experience, El Toro has been inactive longer. All of Basin's pro fights have come since McIntyre last entered the ring. After winning the English light heavyweight title against Shinkwin in 2016, the pinnacle of Joel's career thus far, Conroy stopped him in the second round of their fight the following year. McIntyre scored a momentum-changing knockdown in the second round of his fight with Spelman, but became overconfident and was knocked down himself in the same round before dropping the decision.

McIntyre had a shot to regain the vacant English title in 2018. His opponent, for the third time, was Miles Shinkwin. At the end of the ten-rounder, the judges declared Shinkin the winner. "I’ll be honest, I was fed up with boxing," McIntyre told The Portsmouth News about the loss.. "I didn’t put on a pair of gloves for about a year- didn’t hit anything for about a year- I was totally done with it."

Though McIntyre has only three KOs, he's not a light-hitting boxer. He'll mix it up. But he can be hurt. He's been knocked down and cut in several fights. Basin is a puncher and roughing up McIntyre on the inside and trading punches with him is probably his best chance for what would be a huge win for the Israeli.

Basin-McIntyre is slated for six rounds.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Chilemba to Face Silyagin in Russia

Isaac Chilemba is scheduled to face Pavel Silyagin on November 12 in Moscow, Russia. This fight was originally scheduled for October 15 and then it was pushed back to November 5. It has now been moved back another week. Chilemba is a veteran who has assumed the position of high-level gatekeeper while Silyagin is an experienced and decorated amateur whose eight pro fights have all come since the start of 2020.

Chilemba (26-7-3, 10 KOs), a 33 year old resident of South Africa who was born in Malawi, goes by the nickname "Golden Boy." He has fought almost all of the best light heavyweights of the past five years. In terms of defense, Chilemba is one of the best of his era in any weight class. His ability to slip punches in the pocket is unique. He almost never gets hit cleanly to the head.

Chilemba is a cerebral boxer with a keen ability to counter and a smart jab that keeps his foe off balance. He has two weaknesses, though. He doesn't always let his hands go enough, and he often fights in the opponent's home country. In February, Chilemba fought Fedor Chudinov in Russia and was stuck with a split draw. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored it 96-94 for Chilemba. It's not the first time Chilemba's record was scarred by a hometown decision and it likely won't be the last.

Silyagin (8-0, 4 KOs) is a 28 year old from Novosibirsk, which is in the middle of Russia. Pavel has a high boxing IQ and can use a variety of styles. His favorite seems to be that of a volume boxer, an unusual combination. He moves, plants, throws a combo, and moves to the side to plant and throw some more. But Silyagin can walk down an opponent as he did against Orkhan Gadzhiev, in a second round stoppage victory back in August 2020.

Against  the previously undefeated Azizbek Abdugofurov in March, Silyagin primarily jabbed and moved. He switched stances frequently as he does in most of his fights. He's not fluid, but uses his awkwardness to his advantage. Silyagin had been pretty easy to hit in many of his first seven fights. He dominated Omar Garcia, scoring a first round KO in January, but even Garcia landed effectively to the body and through the guard to the head. Siarhei Khamitski, a game but mostly defensive 46 year old, was another foe who was surprisingly able to make contact with his punches against Silyagin. In their fight last December, Pavel scored two knockdowns in the fourth, though, causing his elder to quit in the corner after the round.

But the Russian fought like lightning in his last fight, a clash with Abdallah Shaban Pazzy last May. The Tanzanian couldn't lay a glove on Silyagin while Silyagin moved in the pocket and kept punching. In the fourth, Pavel landed a left hook from the orthodox stance while retreating and scored a knockdown. He dominated the entire fight to earn a shutout on the scorecards. Though Tanzania borders Malawi, Shaban Pazzy and Chilemba are worlds apart in terms of ability.

Chilemba has had only one fight since Silyagin turned pro. While Silyagin has faced good competition for a boxer with eight prizefights, Chilemba has more fights against top opposition than Silyagin has total contests. Isaac has faced nine fighters with undefeated records and at least 10 wins. That doesn't include his two bouts with Tony Bellew or two others with Maxim Vlasov.

This won't be an easy fight for Isaac, but Chilemba represents a Tyson Fury-sized step up for Silyagin. Don't be surprised if it turns into a high-level chess match. This bout is for fans of the sweet science, the bloodthirsty be warned. Chilemba-Silyagin is scheduled for twelve rounds.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Unknown Fighters

Ignorance might be bliss, but it makes for poor boxing analysis. Boxing fans, pundits, and so-called experts too often dismiss fighters because they don't know anything about them.

Olexandr Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight champion and pound-for-pound top ten fighter in the world, upset heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua on September 25. Before the fight, most felt Joshua would be too big for the Ukrainian and would trounce him on route to a mega-fight against Tyson Fury. Incidentally, I happened to think Usyk, a supremely skilled southpaw, would win on points but could see how other's felt Joshua would retain his belts.

After the fight, Josh Peter opined in USA Today, "Anthony Joshua, the British heavyweight boxer, is now a famous artist. A choke artist." Peter continued, "Who is Oleksandr Usyk, you ask? Exactly."

At 24-2 with 22 KOs, Anthony Joshua is an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time holder of multiple world title belts, hardly the resume of a "choke artist." If he never fights again, he's a top five heavyweight of his era.

To follow boxing and not know Usyk would be like following American politics and not know Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz. Besides becoming the legitimate world cruiserweight champion, the 19-0 Usyk is also an Olympic gold medalist.

If the bad takes on Usyk's win were primarily confined to one writer of a national newspaper, the bad takes on Mikey Garcia vs. Sandor Martin could fill bookshelves. The pontificators argued that since they had never heard of Sandor Martin, he must be terrible.

There are too many examples of the Sandor Martin phenomenon, so here are some Twitter comment threads littered with people exposing their own ignorance about boxing: Here's oneanother oneanother, and another. Ok, one more. In social media parlance, these people posted their Ls.

DAZN's own announcers categorized a Martin win as potentially being "the biggest upset of 2021." They described Martin, who is from Spain, as a "domestic fighter." Most American fans might not appreciate the distinction, but in reality Martin had been a European-level fighter for over five years, won the European super lightweight title two years ago, and has had two defenses since, one against a former European champ. It's like calling a hot baseball prospect in Triple A an "A" ball player.

I had seen Martin fight several times on DAZN, something the network's own announcers may not have done, and became frustrated with the lazy argument that Martin stunk because boxing fans hadn't heard of him.

Boxing fans, pundits, and experts often forget that fighters can improve. A smaller pundit based his assessment of Martin on a fight from four years ago. Needless to say, "Sandor Martin fights like a bulldog... Little power and limited skill," was way off the mark. 

Cletus Seldin has faced this type of critique since his loss to Yves Ulysse on December 16, 2017. HBO's blow-by-blow announcer declared, "I don't believe we'll see Cletus Seldin on HBO again," after the fight. That turned out to be true, but only because HBO canceled its boxing division within a year of his comment.

Seldin has improved since his lone career loss. Don't judge him based on a fight that took place four years ago. Last Saturday, William Silva spent the first three rounds outboxing Cletus, but the Hebrew Hammer showed impressive progression within the fight. He stopped chasing, wore down Silva, and set him up for two overhand rights to score a seventh round knockout.

We all want to see the best fights possible, but we shouldn't denigrate someone simply because we don't know who they are or what they will become. Manny Pacquiao was once an unknown before he became the most famous boxer in the world. He was once a one-handed fighter before he rounded out his game. Of course, few fighters turn into legends, but it's important to show respect to boxers putting their lives on the line for our entertainment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

What is Triller?

Triller is a video-sharing app akin to Tik Tok that has recently tried its hand at boxing promotion. When it first burst onto the boxing scene, it appeared a welcomed addition to fans and fighters alike. But, as Saturday's event featuring Cletus Seldin and Super Cat shows, its foray into the fight game is at a crossroads.

After promoting an exhibition match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones last November, the company made headlines when it won a purse bid to promote a sanctioned fight between Teofimo Lopez and his mandatory challenger George Kambosos. They threw money at the fighters, a good thing for boxing. The fight was scheduled for June 19 and the estimable Jim Lampley was brought back from retirement to call the blow-by-blow action. Triller looked like the real deal.

Lopez contracted covid-19 the week of the fight and the promotion was postponed until August. And then to October 4. And then to October 16. And then Triller lost Lopez-Kambosos and its million dollar deposit. In the meantime, Triller promoted Oscar De La Hoya's comeback fight against Vitor Belfort. But, he also contracted covid-19 in the run-up and was replaced by the Real Deal, Evander Holyfield.

Holyfield, 58 years old, should not have been allowed to fight on September 11, 2021. Belfort, a 43 year old MMA fighter, dominated the retired champ in a match that lasted under three minutes. The presence of former President Donald Trump, who hosted the event with his son, was just another peculiarity of the circus.

Last Saturday's show was a bizarre mix of elements. The headliner on the boxing side was Cletus Seldin, who brought along his "Hamma Heads." Seldin describes himself as a throwback fighter. He is a link to an era when ethnic rivalries fueled the sport. He appeals to Long Islanders, Jews, and Long Island Jews.

The announcers, with the exception of respect-worthy boxer Gabe Rosado, were like a 58 year old Evander Holyfield entering a boxing ring with gloves wrapped around his hands, a total disaster. Ray Flores is a decent blow-by-blow announcer on Fox. He sometimes tightropes along the upper regions of his vocabulary and he can be a bit wordy, but he seems to know and enjoy boxing. His performance on Triller was just embarrassing.

His cursing was unprofessional and forced. At various times, he claimed he needed to "smoke a J" to calm down or grab a drink because it was all too exciting. And he practically begged the audience to believe we were watching four consecutive Hagler-Hearns reincarnations. An important point for new promotional companies: When your announcers have to constantly convince the audience how good your product is, maybe it's not that good. Let your product do the promoting.

Flores also made the unpardonable sin of chronicling the great history of Jewish boxers by recalling, "Dmitriy Salita, Yuri Foreman, and Max Baer." Much love to Dmitriy and Yuri, but if you asked them, they'd certainly start the conversation with Benny Leonard and Barney Ross. Baer's relationship to Judaism is, well, complicated.

Flores's partner, "Crimefaces," performed the age old routine of the huckster: say nothing forcefully enough that it sounds like something. In a thick Brooklyn accent, Crimefaces didn't add to the discussion in the least. The unofficial judge, Sean Wheelock, screams about how many judging trainings he's attended and then misses badly with his assessments. In a hard to believe score, he had Seldin winning the first four rounds and losing the fifth on Saturday night. The JBB disagreed with his scoring on four of those five rounds.

The announcing was theoretically designed to appeal to younger male viewers, the coveted 18-29 demographic. Awkward cursing, a Brooklyn accent, and a loud but incompetent unofficial judge is probably not the best strategy.

After boxing came a concert featuring 58 year old reggae star Super Cat and 52 year old hip hop emcee Wyclef Jean, because there's no better way to attract Long Island Jews or 18-29 year old males than Super Cat and Wyclef. The following evening's part of the two-night Triller bonanza featured a rap battle between legendary emcees Big Daddy Kane and KRS-ONE, who began their hip hop careers in the 1980s. And while Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, good marketing sense, apparently, doesn't.

It all begs the question: What is Triller? And to whom does it appeal? The editor of The JBB is a Jew, a boxing aficionado, and a fan of those hip hop pioneers, but I finished watching Saturday night disgusted by the embarrassing announcers (again, except for Rosado, who was a bright light in the abyss). As a boxing promoter, it's safe to say, Triller has yet to figure it out.

"It looks so easy," Bob Arum, who has promoted fights for over fifty years, recently told Elie Seckbach. "You put up the money, you pay the fighters, it's a ring. It's not rocket science. And yet, unless you know what you're doing and you're very careful, you're going to blow your brains out."

Perhaps someone should take away Triller's gun before it's too late.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Seldin Scores Stoppage in Seventh after Slow Start

Cletus "Hebrew Hammer" Seldin knocked out William "Baby Face" Silva in the seventh round of their fight tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Seldin struggled to catch Silva in the first three rounds before he turned the fight in his favor in the fourth.

After a slow feel-out first round, the taller Silva used his five-inch reach advantage to great effect. Silva spent much of the opening round running for two reasons. He wanted to avoid eating an early overhand right while he was still a bit cold, and he wanted to see how Cletus would react to his movement. Seldin chased in the first, failing to cut off the ring.

Silva's movement in the next round had a different purpose. Having evaluated Seldin's attack in the first, Silva lured him in during the second. Seldin came straight in, which allowed Silva to pick off the Hammer as he charged forward. Silva then smoothly turned out of harm's way and reeled in Cletus once again. That second stanza must have given the "Hamma Heads," Seldin's rowdy followers, nightmarish flashbacks to his fight with Yves Ulysse in 2017. In that contest, Ulysse outboxed Cletus, scoring three knockdowns while Seldin chased in vain, becoming increasingly frustrated.

The third round wasn't much better for Cletus. Silva's feet slowed just a bit, but Seldin was still out of range. The Brazilian punctuated his boxing clinic with a hard right hand at the end of the third.

The situation looked dire for the New Yorker heading into the fourth. Silva started the round by lifting up Seldin, showing his dominance. It turned out to be his last gasp. Cletus, in his customary purple trunks with silver trim, decided to absorb a few punches for the opportunity to get inside and maul Silva. It worked and by the end of the three minutes, Seldin had smashed Silva with two hard straight rights. He had finally found his range.

Most of the fifth was sandwiched between two Seldin Specials- the overhand right. Silva still connected as Cletus came towards him, but those shots were like a cool breeze; Seldin surely felt them, but they didn't change his plans.

In the sixth, Cletus Seldin showed an ability to adjust on the fly that few felt he possessed. His objective for much of the round was just to touch Silva. Stick a jab in his face. Let him know he could be reached with the right. Seldin had switched southpaw a couple of times already, but in the sixth the switch seemed to throw Silva off his game. After the ten second warning, Cletus unleashed a right that wobbled Silva. It was a masterful display that set up what was to come.

The bell rang to open what would be the fateful round. Seldin jabbed, and then landed his signature punch. The overhand right crunched Silva's face. William's eyes rolled backwards. But he hadn't yet fallen, so Cletus launched another rocket. This one ended the night. Silva laid on the canvas with no hope of beating the count. Twenty four seconds into the seventh, the 35 year old Seldin achieved perhaps the biggest win of his career.

"I wanted to wreck everything, but I had to be patient," Cletus acknowledged after the fight, his first in nearly twenty months. His 26th win and 22nd KO against one defeat were for his late Uncle Frankie who passed not long before the fight. Silva tumbles to 28-4 with 16 KOs.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Cletus Seldin Makes Weight

Junior welterweight Cletus Seldin made weight ahead of his clash tomorrow against William Silva at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Seldin came in at 139.4 pounds. Silva weighed in at 139. Those weights are par for the course for both men compared to their recent fights.

Seldin, nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer,” was an athlete in high school but didn’t start boxing until he was 22 years old. While makes the rounds with the media in the build up to this fight, Seldin often told a hilarious story about walking into a boxing gym for the first time.

It was a tough gym, and Cletus noticed a bucket of used mouthpieces. He thought to himself, “What is going on here?” Then he saw guys reaching in and just grabbing a random mouthpiece, sliding it in, and biting down. “It was wild!” Cletus recalled.

Silva, a 34 year old native of Brazil, holds a significant height advantage over the 35 year old New Yorker. But Seldin is much stronger. Here is The JBB’s preview of the scheduled ten round affair. The fight will be shown on Fite TV and promoted by Triller.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Alaverdian Earns Stoppage Victory

Flyweight David Alaverdian earned a stoppage victory tonight over Jesús "Gallito" Bojorquez at Auditorio Benito Juárez in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Alaverdian landed a body shot that floored Bojorquez in the second round.

David showcased his footwork and ability to create angles. In the second, Bojorquez missed a wild swinging right, and Alaverdian landed a right uppercut counter from the orthodox stance. A few seconds later, Alaverdian pushed Bojorquez to the ropes, switched to southpaw, and landed a left to the body that generated an audible groan from the crowd as Gallito plummeted to the canvas. Bojorquez rose before the count of ten, but the referee waved off the bout. Alaverdian is now 5-0 with 4 KOs. Bojorquez falls to 0-2-1 and has been stopped twice.

Most prospects are fighting either professional novices or journeymen in their fifth and sixth professional fights. At 28 years old and with his advanced skill level, Alaverdian wants to move up the ranks at a faster pace. All five of his fights have been in Mexico, but he hopes to fight in the U.S.

It’s complicated, though.

"People don't want to fight me because of my amateur experience," David told The Jewish Boxing Blog. Not only are potential opponents intimidated by the Israeli's amateur success, but his Instagram account, filled with impressive clips of him working with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and schooling amateur foes, might frighten them further.

Other 112-115 pounders, worried about the risk Alaverdian presents, price themselves out. “They want money that no one will give them,” David explains.

Covid-related restrictions on travel to the U.S. have limited the pool of prospective opponents. According to BoxRec, there are only a combined total of 50 American boxers in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions. In Mexico, the number is five times higher, so it’s much easier to find an opponent at the lighter weights there.

Though Alaverdian craves tougher opponents, he may need to be patient. Even Manny Pacquiao, a 15-1 flyweight in 1996, fought a fighter with a record of 1-2-1. Pacquiao won by way of second round stoppage.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Alaverdian Makes Weight

David Alaverdian made the flyweight limit heading into his fifth professional battle tomorrow at Auditorio Benito Juárez in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Alaverdian's opponent will be Jesús "Gallito" Bojorquez.

Alaverdian (4-0, 3 KOs) flew on a private plane to Los Mochis earlier today. The U.S.-based Israeli is coming in the lightest of his pro career. He has been working with legendary trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr. Check out a JBB profile of David here.

Bojorquez (0-1-1) is likely overmatched in this bout against Alaverdian. "Gallito" is from Guasave, which is less than an hour's drive from Auditorio Benito Juárez and is also located in Sinaloa. For his two fights, he has weighed in around the light flyweight limit of 108 pounds. In his debut, he drew with another debutant. That fight took place in April. He was stopped in the second round of his last bout which took place in June.

Alaverdian and Bojorquez both weighed in at 112 pounds. This fight is scheduled for four rounds. The card will be shown on UFC Fight Pass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Review of Holocaust Fighters

Holocaust Fighters: Boxers, Resisters, and Avengers
By Jeffrey Sussman
Rowman & Littlefield, 2021

Holocaust Fighters smashes the myth that Jews were simply lambs led to the slaughter. Jews fought the Nazis before, during, and after the war. Not only did boxers such as Victor "Young" Perez, Nathan Shapow, and Harry Haft achieve some retribution, but so did non-boxers like those who joined Nakam and plotted to poison high-ranking Nazi POWs.

The theme of the book, however, is primarily the Holocaust. Fighting is a secondary topic. Each chapter is its own vignette, sometimes loosely connected to the rest of the book. The first chapter explores Hitler's obsession with boxing as an arena to showcase Aryan superiority. The next is a general overview of high-profile Nazis. Then there are five chapters each profiling a different boxer associated with the Holocaust. The boxers include Perez, Shapow, Haft, Salamo Arouch, and Johann Trollmann. The rest of the book is a mishmash of topics ranging from escapees of concentration camps, to revenge-seeking survivors, from the Nuremburg trails, to an overly positive take on Max Schmeling (a counterpoint here) and an extended appearance from, oddly, Wladimir Klitschko.

It all makes for an ambitious book that probably should have been more focused. Other Holocaust-related boxers are mentioned and could have been featured in their own chapters. Biographies of Benjamin "Kid" Perez (Victor's brother), Leone Efrati, Eric Seelig, Kid Francis, and Jacko Razon (to name a few) would have fit better than the Nuremburg trials or Klitschko.

With various chapters attempting to achieve different goals, the writing is naturally a bit uneven. There are flashes of brilliance and many spots where the narrative flows well. But those moments are eventually broken up by brief bouts of wordy sentences or needlessly repetitive phrases. Overall though, the prose is solid enough.
    
Within the narrative, Sussman describes the fate of each Nazi perpetrator, a welcome bit of research that places the Holocaust in a larger context. Providing the larger context in which the people chronicled here lived is a strength of the book. The tortuous lives the boxers were forced to endure in the camps during the Shoah is on heartbreaking display.

The thesis of the book is, "The men who created the hellish conditions in the Nazi concentration camps... were individuals of pure evil." And thus, fighting back against the Nazis is justified. While there is no issue with the second part, to consider the Nazis as pure evil strips them of their agency, their free will. They weren't born evil monsters, they were humans who chose to commit those evil actions. We all have a spark of evil and a spark of good within us, and it is up to us to make the right choice.

The prime exception to the good/evil dichotomy presented in the book comes in the form of a letter written to Harry Haft by his son Alan. It is a gut-wrenchingly beautiful missive to his late father showing the moral ambiguity of the Holocaust and the importance of understanding the horrors its victims faced.

Jeffrey Sussman's Holocaust Fighters comes at an important time. Knowledge of the Holocaust is fading as the years pass. A 2020 Pew Research poll found that fewer than half of Americans know that approximately six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust or that Adolph Hitler rose to power through democratic means. This book is for those who need to improve their knowledge of the Holocaust. Jewish boxing fans will appreciate it as an introduction to Holocaust boxers. Just be sure to skip the chapter on German boxing; it misses the mark.

More Holocaust boxing sources:
Harry Haft
A Boxer's Story
Triumph of the Spirit

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Alaverdian to Fight on Thursday

Super flyweight David Alaverdian is scheduled to fight this coming Thursday, October 14. The contest will take place at Auditorio Benito Juarez in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Alaverdian is 4-0 with 3 KOs. All of his fights have taken place in Mexico.

Alaverdian is an Israeli-born, U.S.-based 28 year old. A slick boxer, David can switch stances to throw off his opponent's rhythm. Recently, he has begun working with the legendary trainer Floyd Mayweather, Sr.

"I feel blessed. To be honest I never thought such thing can happen to me in my wildest dreams," says Alaverdian about getting the opportunity to train with Mayweather.

The up-and-comer started boxing at about seven years of age. He inherited his mom's genetics, and so his dad worried David would be bullied because of his small stature. As a result, his dad forced David to take up boxing. "I was quitting on and off all the time," David remembers. "I didn't like boxing because I was forced to do it."

At eighteen years old, just before his induction into mandatory military service in Israel, David fell in love with the sport and began to take it seriously. He was talented but eventually became disillusioned with the corruption in amateur boxing.

Alaverdian debuted as a pro in December 2019. Though he has faced limited competition during his nearly two-year pro career, he has shown improvement. David understands where he has grown as a boxer." I think I got a little bit tougher," he reveals.

"I stopped jumping a lot. In the amateurs, the boxers they jump to throw punches. In the professionals it takes too much energy because there's way more rounds," David explains.

He last fought on May 7, a third round TKO victory in Hermasillo, Sonora, Mexico. No opponent has yet been named for Thursday's bout.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Seldin to Fight Silva on October 16

According to multiple sources, Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight William Silva at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, USA on October 16. This bout replaces the long-delayed Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos clash that has been plagued by countless date changes. Seldon-Silva is a competitive matchup on paper.

Cletus Seldin, a 35 year old New Yorker, sports an impressive 25-1 record with 21 KOs. When the 16th rolls around, it will be nearly 20 months since the "Hebrew Hammer" last entered the ring. Seldin had a fight scheduled last month, but it was canceled the previous day when his opponent Victor Vazquez failed the physical.

William Silva (28-3, 16 KOs) is a 34 year old from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Silva lacks a signature win, but his three losses all came against world class competition. In 2016, Felix Verdejo won a wide unanimous decision over Silva utilizing his superior hand speed. Verdejo, a 2012 Olympians with a bright future, has since lost twice as the A-side and now stands accused of murdering his pregnant mistress.

Things are going better for Silva's next conqueror. The aforementioned Teofimo Lopez is an undefeated top ten pound-for-pound fighter and the Transnational Boxing Rankings champion at lightweight. In 2018, Lopez battered the tough Silva for six rounds flooring him three times. In 2019, Arnold Barboza put Silva down for the count with a right to the body in the fifth. The Transnational Boxing Rankings lists Barboza as the number five challenger at junior welterweight.

Silva's best win might be against Fernando Ferreira da Silva whose claim to fame is he fell to a young Jeff Horn. William has beaten other guys with good records, but they were on the road to the becoming journeymen. The "Baby Face" Brazilian is 22-0 in his home country and 6-3 in the U.S. and its territories.

Silva prefers to box. He's a good counterpuncher and a quality punch-picker. But as most fighters who counter and pick their punches well, the Brazilian doesn't throw too many combinations. Seldon's lone loss was to Yves Ulysse, a skilled boxer., but Silva doesn't move nearly as well as the Canadian Ulysse, and the Brazilian's hand speed is slow for world level. Silva is tough, but he can be hit and he will go down as the fights against Lopez and Barboza showed. Cletus is a puncher. His best attribute as a fighter is his concussive overhand right.

At 6'1", Silva is tall for the 140 pound weight class, but he'll the smaller man in this fight. Silva has fought most of his career as a lightweight while the 5'8" Seldon started as a welterweight. Seldon and Silva share two common opponents.  In 2015, Silva KOed Bayan Jargal in the third round and Adam Mate in the fifth; Seldon fought Jargal twice in 2014. An accidental butt caused a no contest and then Seldon won the rematch by TKO in the ninth. Seldon stopped Mate 48 seconds into their fight in 2019.

This junior welterweight contest is slated for ten rounds.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Cohen to Fight December 26

Dr. Stefanie Cohen announced that she is scheduled to fight next on December 26 in Switzerland. Ironically, in many Christian countries, December 26 is called Boxing Day.

Fighting at featherweight, Cohen is 1-0-1 with one KO thus far in her pro career. In her first fight, she stopped Haidde Zapa in the third round of their June 4 bout held in the Dominican Republic. Cohen was the aggressor in her debut. On September 18, Stefi fought Marcela Nieto to a majority draw in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Cohen showed much improved footwork and a quick jab in that fight.

A doctor of physical therapy and exercise physiologist, Cohen is a record-breaking powerlifter and a social media influencer who is serious about her new sport. Though she has used social media to build up her business, Hybrid Performance Method, Stefi doesn't want to be included in the new genre of influencer boxing.

"I am an influencer who also boxes," the U.S.-based native of Venezuela said in a recent interview with iFL TV. "I've always been an athlete first."

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Ostroumov Suffers Major Knee Injury

Southpaw super middleweight Mikhael Ostroumov recently disclosed that he suffered a severe knee injury in a post on Instagram. The injury will keep him out of action for a significant but undisclosed amount of time.

Ostroumov is 3-0-1 with one KO as a pro. He made his debut on June 27, 2020 and earned a TKO victory over a 40-fight veteran. His lone draw came in his second fight against a 5-0 opponent, Ravshan Ergashev. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the bout in favor of Ostroumov.

His next fight ended in a convincing victory over Vasily Shytck, a  tough opponent despite his mediocre record. Ostroumov last fought on December 10 against a weaker foe.

As the lines between amateur and professional boxing become increasingly blurred, Mikhael participated in the Israeli national amateur championships this past August. He dominated his semifinal match but dropped the final by decision to Yan Zak. Ostroumov's heaviest weight as a pro has been 168.75 pounds. In August, he fought in the 86 KG division in the amateur tournament, which is over twenty pounds heavier.

When Ostroumov recovers, and after a couple tune-up fights, a matchup against undefeated prospect Stephane Fondjo would be a good one. Fondjo (6-0, 5 KOs) is from Cameroon and based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Despite his impressive record, Fondjo's people probably won't want any part of a healthy Ostroumov. Fondjo has been in with soft touches thus far. One opponent was so green he spent much of the brief fight crouching with his hands over his head, not a defensive technique typically used in the sweet science. Predictably, Fondjo won that "fight" by KO. But if Fondjo's management has the courage, a bout against Ostroumov would be a good test for their man.

While Ostroumov recovers, catch up on his career by viewing video and reading The Jewish Boxing Blog's coverage of his fights...

Mikhael Ostroumov's pro fight videos and coverage:

Fight 1- June 27, 2020 vs. Karen Avetisyan [JBB article]
Fight 2- September 4, 2020 vs. Ravshan Ergashev [JBB article]
Fight 3- October 30, 2020 vs. Vasily Shtyk [JBB article]
Fight 4- December 10, 2020 vs Evgenii Tershukov [JBB article]

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: The Great Benny Leonard

The Great Benny Leonard: Mama's Boy to World Champ
By John Jarrett
Pitch Publishing, 2021

Even now, over seventy years after his death, Benny Leonard is a revered figure among Jewish boxing fans. In a tradition popularized by Budd Schulberg, we typically include "The Great" before uttering his name, an honorific akin to referring to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as "Mahatma." John Jarrett has created a book worthy of our idol.

Racing through his childhood and skimming his post-career life, Jarrett's work primarily focuses on Benny the boxer. Rather than providing strict chronologic coverage of each fight, Jarrett presents the hot debates that marked Benny's career:

-Who really taught Benny to throw that concussive right hand?
-How much did Benny love his mother? (Spoiler: A lot!)
-Was Benny a better lightweight than Joe Gans?
-How did he out-think Ritchie Mitchell in the first round on that fateful night in 1921 and trick the Milwaukee bruiser out of the world championship?
-And how did he do a similar thing to Lew Tendler in the eighth round of their fight the following year?
-Why did Benny hit Jack Britton when he was down and all but out, thereby losing his claim to the welterweight crown?

As a writer, Jarrett is humble. He leaves the storytelling to Damon Runyon, Heywood Broun, Nat Fleischer and the like, quoting firsthand newspaper accounts and later biographies at length. The introduction is almost exclusively an extended quote from Allen Bodner's When Boxing was a Jewish Sport. The fear in heavily quoting various sources is a disjointed work, but Jarrett blends these diverse voices like a maestro brings together different sections of an orchestra. Sometimes the writers seamlessly piggyback off one another and at others they engage in riveting debates about Benny's career. The few times Jarrett describes the fights with his own fingers, his words fit in well with the old masters.

Benny's life and career aren't treated as a philosophical muse here. Nor are they really put in a wider context either. His role as a symbol of his people is kept to a minimum. This book is more like a straight shot of Benny told directly by those who covered him. One of the most striking aspects of that coverage was the quickness in which questions surfaced about whether Leonard's talents had deteriorated. The questions arose almost immediately after he lifted the lightweight title from Freddie Welsh in 1917. And those criticisms never relented. As is often the case, the myth only grew in time.

The Great Benny Leonard is for all Jewish boxing fans. Those who don't know much about the legend will learn of all the key moments in his career, and those who are intimately familiar with perhaps the greatest Jewish boxer, and certainly the most popular, ever to lace up the gloves will still glean much from this book.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Kapuler Dominates on Route to Decision Victory

Miroslav Kapuler outboxed 20-fight veteran Yevheniy Kondratenko in Zvenyhorodka, Ukraine this afternoon. The southpaw junior middleweight looked quite impressive throughout the bout.

Kapuler wore light blue trunks with white trim. A gold Star of David adorned the left side of his trunks, and the beltline displayed his initials "MI" (for Miroslav Ishchenko, his birthname) in gold. He wore knee-high white socks and used black gloves to land a left to the body and then a left to the head stunning Kondratenko mere seconds into the fight.

Kondratenko attempted to fight back early, but Kapuler dissuaded him of any notion of returning fire with a series of lead lefts from the outside sprinkled throughout the opening round and a sustained combination with 45 seconds left in the first that spun Yevheniy around. For the rest of the fight Kondratenko remained in survival mode.

Kapuler spent much of the rest of the affair dancing and landing lead lefts from the outside. He showed off his fancy footwork and his educated jab. Miroslav has several jabs. He has a range-finding jab, which is essential for a taller fighter. The six-footer also has a power jab. He has a show-jab that distracts the opponent from his best punch, the straight left. He can also double up the jab and land that straight left behind it.

Late in the third round Kapuler unleashed an overhand left from distance. Upon absorbing the blow, Kondratenko froze. Miroslav waited, perhaps a beat too long, to jump on his wounded foe. Kondratenko managed to withstand Kapuler's barrage as the bell saved the journeyman.

At this point in his career, Kapuler is a bit too cautious when his man is hurt. Against Alexander Benidze in April, Miroslav also failed to capitalize when his opponent was all but finished. In today's bout, Kapuler didn't press the fight in the fourth even after Kondratenko was shaken up at the end of the third. Instead, he relied on his classy boxing to carry him to victory. But in fairness to Kapuler, both Benidze and Kondratenko are far more experienced than the usual pushovers many prospects are fed early in their careers. Miroslav swept the cards with one judge scoring the bout 40-35 and the other two seeing it 40-36.

Kapuler is a 24 year old with a lot of skills and ability. He can go far in the sport if he's so inclined. His jab and left hand are excellent. After landing some of his shots, he shifts to a different angle and lands some more. His right hook isn't bad by any means, but he throws it a bit wide. A tall southpaw in possession of a short counter right hook to the temple is a very dangerous fighter. Nevertheless, Kapuler is a speedy and flashy boxer who is now 3-0 with one KO. Kondratenko falls to 5-16 with 3 KOs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Miroslav Kapuler to Fight on Thursday

Junior middleweight Miroslav Kapuler is scheduled to fight on Thursday in Ukraine against Yevheniy Kondratenko. This would be Kapuler's third pro fight, all in Ukraine.

Kapuler, who sometimes goes by his birth surname of Ishchenko, is 2-0 with one KO. The 24 year old southpaw dominated the competition in last month's Israeli amateur championships. He won the gold in the 71 kilogram division as the lines between prizefighting and amateur boxing become increasingly blurred.

Kondratenko is the right kind of opponent for Kapuler at this stage of his career. Kondratenko, from Myrhorod, Ukraine, is 5-15 with 3 KOs and has experience in MMA. He has never beaten an opponent with a winning record, but has never lost to an opponent with a losing record. Kondratenko lost his first seven fights, won his next four, and has lost his last seven dating back to 2016. He has fought in his native Ukraine, as well as Russia, Latvia, Germany, and Finland.

Kapuler should handle the naturally smaller Kondratenko, but Yevheniy is no pushover. He's the type of guy who is an opponent for good young prospects early in their careers, not someone to boost an inflated record. One of his losses was to a guy who is now 21-1 and whose only career defeat came at the hands of former world champ Rob Brant. Another loss came to another guy who is also 21-1 and has only lost to hot prospect Rene Tellez Giron.

Kondratenko will take what's given to him. If an opponent takes control early as Denys Lazarev did in their 2015 bout, Kondratenko will fight off the backfoot and throw punches with little conviction. But if Kondratenko feels he has a chance, he'll push forward firing combinations. Though he has been stopped six times, he can take a good punch; he just can't withstand two or three in quick succession.

Kapuler has a three inch height advantage and he has been more active. He last fought professionally in April while Kondratenko's last pro boxing match was a bit before the pandemic began in December of 2019. This bout is scheduled for four rounds.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cohen and Nieto Fight to Majority Draw

Dr. Stefanie Cohen and Marcela Nieto fought to a majority draw at Sport Society in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in their featherweight contest today. Cohen's technique vastly improved since her debut, but she had trouble mounting offense besides her jab.

A big moment came when Stefi entered the ring, her surname "Cohen" stitched in yellow across the beltline on the back of her black trunks. The United Arab Emirates recognized the state of Israel only last year, on August 13, becoming the third Arab nation to do so.

Cohen, 29, is a world-record breaking powerlifter, a legend in that sport. She came to boxing less than two years ago. She won her first fight by TKO, but her punches and footwork were crude. In the first round of this bout, Stefi exhibited much sharper technique. Her feet quickly darted in and out while she snapped her jab at Nieto. On the inside, she landed a short right to the body and effectively slipped Nieto's attempts at offense like a seasoned boxer.

On the outside, Nieto waved her wide punches. At one point, she ran to get close to Cohen firing arm punches along the way. But mostly, she posed, taunted, and waited. Cohen's movement and defense frustrated the 33 year old from El Bagre, Colombia until the end of the second round. Nieto landed a short right on the inside and Cohen's nose began to resemble a certain reindeer named Rudolph. It was the turning point in the fight.

The blood poured down Cohen's nose early in the third. She landed her jab, but Nieto found a home for her short rights in close at the end of the two-minute period. One after the other, Cohen absorbed those painful rights. Nieto's short right was tighter and more powerful than her wide punches from the outside.

After taking punishment at the end of the third, Cohen boxed behind the jab in the fourth. Nieto landed a clean short right to the body at one stage and a counter right over the top later in that last round. This final round posed the age old question for judges: How many jabs equal two hard power shots? Two of these three judges answered that whatever the number of jabs, Cohen hadn't connected with enough of them.

A ring announcer's job may look easy, but it's not as simple as you think. There is a certain order in which to read the scores to maximize the drama and clarity. Today's ring announcer flubbed his job. The scores should have been read, "Judge A scored the bout 39-37 for [insert boxer's name]. Overruled by judges B and C who scored it... 38-38, a majority draw." Instead, this announcer read the two even cards first, draining the act of any drama, and then revealed the 39-37 score without mentioning which fighter won on that card. As it turns out, the 39-37 score was somewhat surprisingly for Nieto 

Cohen, who is now 1-0-1 with one KO, looked much better from a technical standpoint but came away with a draw. While her footwork, technique, and jab were all better, she telegraphed her overhand right and didn't have another punch to throw off the jab. She quickly ran out of offensive ideas. As a result, her attack was limited, and once Nieto figured out how to get inside Stefi's jab, Marcela found more success. Nieto, 2-0-1 with one KO, was also a better opponent.

A light moment came during the post fight interview. Cohen, a native of Caracas, Venezuela and a resident of Miami, Florida, speaks Spanish and English. Nieto, the Colombian, only speaks Spanish, and the interviewer spoke English. So Cohen served as translator for her opponent. She didn't fake the translation and claim, "She said I won the fight" or anything, but it was perhaps a bit awkward when Cohen translated, "She has a lot of respect for me. She says I'm tough."

Friday, September 17, 2021

Weights For Cohen-Nieto

Dr. Stefanie Cohen (1-0, 1 KO) is scheduled to face Marcela Nieto (2-0, 1 KO) tomorrow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Nieto weighed in at 121.5 pounds, the heaviest of her career. Cohen came in at 125.2 pounds, about a pound and a half more than she weighed in her debut.

When Stefi stepped onto the scale, Nieto peered at the number. Nieto shook her head, threw her hands up, and shook her head some more in resigned disgust. Her reaction was akin to when your mechanic quotes you a price on a replacement catalytic converter after yours was stolen out of your driveway. You figure the price is inflated, but you're powerless to do anything about it.

According to BoxRec and the promoter, Core Sports, the fight is set for the featherweight limit of 126 pounds, which Cohen made with room to spare. There has been no public mention of a catchweight for this fight, but perhaps Nieto was promised one. That seems the only logical explanation for her reaction.

Cohen, 29,  has had to transform her body in her shift from powerlifting, a sport in which she was a record-breaking legend, to boxing. Nieto, 33, has experience in another sport, too. She has at least six fights in MMA.

Stefi and her team have been in Dubai for the week. She toured the Burj Khalifa, by far the tallest building in the world. Completed in 2009 and standing 2,717 feet (828 meters), it is almost 700 feet (200 meters) taller than the second tallest building in the world. From the top, Cohen could surely see Sport Society, the arena where the fight is set to take place.

BoxRec lists Cohen-Nieto as having four three-minute rounds. Typically, women's matches have two-minute rounds. Core Sports announced that the fight will start at 9:15 PM local time, which is 8:15 in Israel, 6:15 in the UK, and 1:15 PM EDT.

Here is a link to video of the weigh-in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Review of King of Warsaw

The King of Warsaw
By Szczepan Twardoch
Amazon Crossing, 2016, 2020.

This novel, translated into English by Sean Gasper Bye, takes place in Warsaw in 1937 as fascists' influence in Poland begins to bubble. Hitler and the Nazis increasingly brutalize Jews next door. Jakub Szapiro, a Jewish boxer, works as an enforcer for a Polish leftist gangster. When he's not knocking out fascists, in or out of the ring, the heavyweight is strategizing with his fellow mobsters in a brothel owned by his ex.

Featuring a few twists along the way, revealing more of the plot would involve spoilers. But the mood is dark. Gruesome and sexually explicit details permeate the story. Szapiro is an anti-hero and painfully few of the other characters possess enough redeeming qualities to outweigh the bad.

The characters, despite their disturbing features, are tangible. A blurb from the back of the book states, "Twardoch's depictions of individual characters, atmospheres, and political currents are precise, vivid, and ecstatic, almost to the point of madness." Only the world "almost" is off. It makes for a clear yet pessimistic scene. The King of Warsaw is the opposite of life-affirming.

And yet, with the rise of populism and fascism across the world, this tale is certainly relevant for our era. It asks the questions, "What makes a good person? And is there such a thing?" Though the description of violence can be excessive and the lives of many of the characters bleak, Twardoch's philosophical arguments expertly woven within the narrative are worth considering.

The King of Warsaw is for those interested in learning about the different political factions and the realities of mob life in Poland in the late 1930s, those who enjoy reading about a Jewish tough rough up fascists, and those who don't mind a graphic description of someone's throat getting slit.

A couple notes:
Here's the original Polish version De Krol.
It has also been made into a tv show.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Schedule Update for Several Boxers

Dr. Stefi Cohen (1-0, one KO) is currently in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for her fight against Marcela Nieto this Saturday, September 18. For more information on the fight, check out this article. The JBB will have full coverage of this bout.

"Bulldog" Benny Sinakin (6-1, 3 KOs) is scheduled to fight on November 27 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, according to multiple sources. BoxRec lists his opponent as fifty-fight veteran Josue Obando. The JBB will have a preview closer to the fight date. Sinakin is coming off of his first loss, a close decision to Afunwa King. Benny had been scheduled to comeback this Friday, but his return bout will take place two days after Thanksgiving, instead.

Sinakin's fight is penciled in for six rounds. His only other six round affair was the loss to King, but the distance wasn't the problem in that fight. Benny started slowly before finding his rhythm late. November will be about seven months after the loss, which is a good amount of time to get back in action. Benny didn't rush back too quickly before he was mentally ready, but he will not have let the loss fester too long and allow it to gnaw at his career.

In an interview with Knuckle Up over the weekend, David Alaverdian (4-0, 3 KOs) said his management is working on getting him a fight for October 7 in Tucson, Arizona. Nothing has been finalized. Alaverdian trains constantly, doing cardio in the morning and boxing later in the day. He eats healthy as well, and as a result he only needs to cut about five or six pounds to make weight at any given moment.

Mor Oknin (1-0, one KO) told The JBB he is planning to fight in Mexico next month. Oknin's debut also took place in Mexico. He won by way of first round TKO over Angel Campoy. Oknin had begun to assert control of the contest when Campoy bowed out due to injury.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Duer Beat Zacarias Last Month

Carolina Duer won by unanimous decision over Silvia Fernanda Zacarias on August 12 at Escuela de Boxeo Santos Zacarías in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Duer is a former two-division world champion. The legend won her belts at super flyweight and bantamweight.

Duer-Zacarias was actually a rematch. The two, both from Argentina, met in the ring eleven years ago. Duer won a ten-round unanimous decision for the South American super bantamweight title back in 2010.

This bout was a four-rounder in the super featherweight division. Each of the three judges scored the contest for Duer, who is 43 year old, with marks of 39-37. She is now 20-6-2 with 6 KOs during her 14 year professional boxing career. This was Duer's first win since 2016, although she dropped a couple of close split decisions in world title bouts in that span.

Zacarias, a 36 year old, is 8-24-5 with one KO. She has lost her last twelve fights, mostly to very good competition. She last won in November of 2012. Zacarias has only been stopped four times, the last coming in 2014.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A Look Back: Nat Arno

Sidney Nathaniel Abramowitz, born April 1, 1910 in Newark, New Jersey, spent his childhood fighting. Almost by accident he found himself on an amateur card when the promoter was in need of a boxer. Abramowitz acquitted himself well in his first sanctioned fight and took up the sport.

Sidney loved boxing so much he dropped out of school to pursue a career in the trade. Needing money, he turned pro two weeks before his 15th birthday. In early fights, he earned $10 or got a wristwatch that he pawned.

Sidney used the nom de guerre Nat Arno to hide his new profession from his parents. It was a wise move, because when Harry and Bertha found out, they barred their son from boxing. The ban worked for six months. Arno ran away from home at the beginning of 1926, hitchhiking to Florida to restart his career. His parents didn't even know if he was alive for over a year.

He fought in Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, and Daytona Beach among other Florida cities. After over 40 fights in Florida- dropping only two of them- he returned to New Jersey to fight in  February of 1927. Far more muscular than when he left, Nat thankfully made up with his dad upon his return.

Newark had been a bustling city, but by the 1920s had turned into a rough place. The city saw a rise in corruption because of prohibition. Newark boasted more illegal speakeasies than Manhattan. Probably some time in 1928 in an effort to supplement his income from prizefighting, Arno began working for Longie Zwillman, the mob boss who controlled bootlegging in Newark and beyond. Arno became an enforcer for Zwillman's gang. He helped usher illegal alcohol to its destination.

Newark's preeminent boxing venue during Arno's career was Laurel Garden, often called "the bucket of blood." Arno fought there at least eleven times. He split two bouts in the spring of 1929 with Benny Levine, a future fellow Newark Minuteman. After dropping an eight round decision to Levine in March, Arno opened up a bad cut over his friend's left eye forcing the referee to stop the April rematch in the third round.

At 5'5", Arno began as a lightweight, but by the 1930s, he had grown into a welterweight. He often wore a Star of David on his trunks intertwined with the initials NA. His last bout occurred on September 30, 1932, a ten round decision loss to Lope Tenorio of the Philippines. Arno, who changed his surname to Arnold, weighed in at a career high 149 pounds for the contest. The 22 year old retired when he realized he wouldn't become champ and understood working for Zwillman fulltime constituted a more lucrative opportunity. Arno's career record was something like 81-23-13 (1 No Decision), including ten newspaper decisions, with 21 KOs. In 118 fights, Arno was stopped once, against Young Zazzino on cuts in 1930.

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment passed, which repealed prohibition. Zwillman's bootlegging operations were rendered moot and Arno's career as a mob enforcer was suddenly in jeopardy. A void briefly entered Arno's life.

But in that same year, the Friends of New Germany gained influence in the United States, particularly in Newark. Fascism became a genuine threat in the U.S. Combatting fascism's rise gave Arno a new sense of purpose.

Arno chose to confront Nazism the best way he knew how, through violence. He pelted one Friends of New Germany meeting with stink bombs, and as American Nazis fled, they were beaten up by pipe-wielding Newark Minutemen. Zwillman chose Arno as the commander of the Minutemen, a group of Jewish toughs- many former boxers- whose mission was to thwart a troubling increase in anti-Semitism. Nat often carried a gun and had no problem using his trained fists to bludgeon Nazis. He also survived an assassination attempt. In the summer of 1934, Max Feilshus was wounded in both legs in a drive-by shooting while standing next to Arno. By the end of 1935 though, Hitler had rejected the Friends of  New Germany and it essentially closed down.

But a new group took its place. The German American Bund, led by Fritz Kuhn, embraced violent anti-Semitism even more than its predecessor. With Father Charles Coughlin spewing his anti-Jewish bile to millions on the radio, the German-American Bund gained a foothold in the minds of too many Americans. But Arno, by this point a stogie-smoking, three-piece suit and fedora-wearing gangster, was ready. He and the Minutemen physically challenged the American Nazis at every meeting.

At times, the press criticized the Minutemen's violent ways and defended the American Nazis' right to free speech under the First Amendment. This of course minimized the American Nazis' own violent impulses. Because assault was part of his job description, Arno often found himself arrested. But thanks to Zwillman's connections to Newark's top brass, Arno never stayed behind bars for very long. Nat led the Minutemen until 1940.

Arno enlisted in the Army in 1941, before the United States entered into war with Nazi Germany. He saw action in the European theater and was wounded at the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

When he came home, he found himself lost once again. He turned back to crime to make a living and got in trouble with the law. Zwillman helped his old friend out once again. In 1948, Arno went out west to run a liquor store and later worked in the furniture business. After moving to California, he became a member of a noble organization, Disabled American Veterans. He stayed out of the spotlight becoming a family man and aiding fundraisers at the local synagogue. Arno died on August 8, 1973 in California of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 63.

In the early 1960s, the American Nazi Party held a rally in Los Angeles. Sidney Arnold listened intently in the audience. When a speaker spouted something anti-Semitic, Sidney conjured up the dangerous alter ego he had laid to rest decades earlier. "Nat Arno" resurfaced and pummeled the Nazi as if it had been the '30s all over again.


Bibliography
Barry, Leslie K. The Newark Minutemen. 2020.
Donahue, Greg. The Minuteman: The Forgotten Legacy of Nat Arno and the Fight against Newark's Nazis. 2020.
Grover, Warren. Nazis in Newark. 2003.
Silver, Mike. Stars in the Ring. 2016.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Seldin's Fight Canceled

Cletus Seldin was scheduled to face Victor Vazquez tomorrow at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York, USA. But the fight was canceled today. The promoter, Star Boxing, initially explained the cancellation was due to "a medical issue" concerning Vazquez. During the pre-fight physical, Vazquez apparently failed the eye exam, which caused NYSAC to deny him a boxing license.

Though the cancellation of Seldin-Vazquez is surely disappointing for all involved, this is a case of the system, eventually, working. The eye issue was caught late in the game, but Vazquez could very well have been saved from irreparable harm had he been allowed to fight.

This comes in the wake of two cases in which the system did not work. Jeanette Zacarias Zapata, an 18 year old from Mexico, died from the punches she took to the head in her fight in Montreal last Saturday. Her wellbeing was repeatedly disregarded along the way. Ahead of his September 10 fight date, Oscar Valdez tested positive for phentermine, a substance banned by VADA (the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). Despite both his A and B samples testing positive, his fight is currently still scheduled to take place. Defanging organization like VADA invites cheating and will eventually lead to tragedy. The health of the fighters must be the primary concern for all those involved in boxing.

Seldin (25-1, 21 KOs) last fought on February 28, 2020. His eighteen-month layoff will extend a bit longer. News of an upcoming fight will be released shortly.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Cohen to Fight Nieto in Dubai

Dr. Stefi Cohen is set to fight Marcela Nieto on September 18 at Sport Society in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Cohen was originally scheduled to fight in Jacksonville, Florida, USA on the undercard of a celebrity match between two strongmen champions, Thor Bjornsson and Eddie Hall. Hall became injured and his replacement is a 46 year old arm wrestling champion Devon Larratt. Then covid exploded in Florida again, so the entire card was moved halfway around the world.

Cohen (1-0, 1 KO) is a 29 year old record-breaking weightlifting champion. A native of Venezuela, she fights out of Miami, Florida and is trained by Dr. Pedro Diaz. Cohen stopped Haidde Zapa in the third round of her debut last June. In preparation for this fight, she sparred with the legendary Argentine champion Carolina Duer.

Nieto (2-0, 1 KO) is a 33 year old from Colombia. She won her first fight by split decision in a 2016 bout in Panama. Her second fight took place in her home country this past February. She stopped a nine-fight veteran in the third round of a scheduled eight-rounder.

Nieto also has experience in MMA. She fought at least six times from '13 to '16 with an even record. In those fights, she showed herself to be a puncher. Though Nieto has had a good bit more combat experience than Cohen, Marcela weighed 114.75 pounds in her last fight whereas Stefi was 123.5 for her debut. Nieto will have the height and experience advantage while Cohen will boast the age and size advantage. 

Though neither of Cohen's opponents will have been world-beaters, as a boxing novice she deserves credit for taking on fighters who actually have boxing experience and have even won professional boxing matches. This bout is scheduled for the featherweight division. According to BoxRec, it's slated for four three-minute rounds.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Seldin to Fight Vazquez on September 4

Cletus Seldin is scheduled to face Victor Vazquez on September 4 at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York, USA. This bout will take place in the junior welterweight division.

Seldin (25-1, 21 KOs) is a 34 year old with a wrecking ball for a right hand. After turning pro in 2011, the Hebrew Hammer won his first 21 fights. He appeared on ESPN and HBO. After Yves Ulysse Jr. out-boxed him in his second fight for HBO in 2017, Cletus took eleven months off. Da Hamma has scored four consecutive knockouts, including one over Zab Judah, since the loss.

February 28, 2020 marks the date of Seldin's last professional fight, eighteen months ago. While he might be rusty come fight night, he will be in shape. Cletus has spent the pandemic training, including lost distance running.

Victor Vazquez (11-5, 5 KOs) is a 25 year old pressure fighter. The Puerto Rican from Yonkers, New York is fresher (with ten fewer fights), has been more active (last fighting in April) and is three inches taller than Seldin at 5'10". He primarily fights from the orthodox stance, but he will switch to southpaw.

Boxers are tougher than the average human, and Vazquez is tougher than the average boxer. Human beings tend to be about 60% water, but El Flaco (The Skinny) is about 60% heart. When a fighter has a ton of heart, it usually means they exhibit poor defense and possess a weak chin. Victor is no exception.

Vazquez is the B side, but he's no pushover. Seven of his eleven wins have come against opponents with winning records. He has been stopped on three occasions, but the combined record of those fighters is currently an extremely impressive 44-3-3. He also beat 14-0 Ricardo Garcia in 2017, but that win looked more impressive at the time. Garcia is now 14-8-1.

The best moment of Vazquez's career came against 2016 Olympic gold medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Fayzi, a southpaw from Uzbekistan, went down 15 seconds into his pro debut for an official knockdown. But it appeared as if the Olympic champion had stepped on Vazquez's foot and gone down as Victor missed a right. Vazquez chomped on a Fayzi left in the next round and fell. He got up and wanted to continue, but the fight was stopped.

Vazquez is often too square right in front of his foes. When he pressures, he doesn't come in behind the jab. Instead, he throws reckless power punches from the outside and launches four shots in the hopes of landing one. He keeps his left hand low which leaves him open for the overhand right, which happens to be Seldin's signature punch. Vazquez is often wobbled in fights, but he always keeps fighting back... if they let him.

Against Seldin, Vazquez would be wise to box, but he won't. His team announced before his 2018 fight with southpaw prospect Josue Vargas that Vazquez would box. That lasted about thirty seconds when Vazquez's true nature surfaced and he attacked Vargas. It made for a very exciting fight. Victor was eventually stopped in the seventh round when his corner waved it off. The Yonkers man had taken a ton of punishment but would not go down or stop throwing. His fight against Anthony Mercado five months later was an even more thrilling fight. Young Vic survived a knockdown early and a near stoppage in a close decision loss. In fact, ref Gary Rosato nearly stepped in and stopped it on two different occasions: one when Vazquez was on his way out and later when Mercado was all but done.

Though the bout is scheduled for ten rounds, it might be a short night, not because of an overly wide difference in class, but because Vazquez's style seems perfect for Seldin. He'll be there to hit and when he gets hit by Da Hamma, the fight might not last long.  If Vazquez can make it out of the first round, he'll show a ton of guts, and win some fans along the way. But Cletus will win the fight.

Monday, August 23, 2021

An Unimportant Encounter with the Champ

This is the second boxing-related memory of my grandma who passed away a year ago. The first is here.

My grandmother's other connection to boxing is something to roll out at cocktail parties. It was 1940 and my grandmother was 12 years old. Her brother Kenny, alternately nicknamed Dinky and Lefty, ran with the same crew as Jake LaMotta, the oldest living world champion boxer at the time of his death on September 17, 2017 at the age of 95 and the subject of the Oscar-winning flick Raging Bull.

LaMotta, 19 at the time, was an amateur boxer and married to his first wife, a Jewish woman. ("My first wife divorced me because I clashed with the drapes," LaMotta would say.) The crew attended parties, enjoyed dancing and drinking. My grandmother even remembers him coming over to her house once.


"Wow, that's amazing, Grandma!"
"No it isn't. It doesn't matter. It means nothing to me. It isn't important. You mentioned boxing, so this is what I thought about, but it isn't important."

At the time of this conversation, my grandmother didn't like to think about the past; she'd rather focus on the present and finding ways to make the aging process as comfortable for her as possible. But one woman's discarded memories are sometimes another man's treasured family history.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

A Night in the Bronx

I began writing this article after a 2013 visit with my grandmother. During that visit, I attempted to unearth some of her formative memories, which was no small feat. Pain defined her past. She passed away last year at the age of 92 and I felt the urge to memorialize her by completing this article in time for her yahrzeit.

A Jewish family sits around their radio at 1422 Washington Avenue, across the street from PS 55, in the Bronx. My grandmother, five years old at the time, remembers the hoots and hollers spewing from her relatives and being thoroughly confused by it. She knows enough to understand the family's cheers are directed towards Max Baer, a heavyweight with a Jewish star on his trunks. In subsequent years, Baer's link to Judaism has been questioned, but in those moments of his fight a mile and a half away at Yankee Stadium against a member of the new-found Nazi nation, Max Schmeling, it doesn't matter whether or not Baer has been circumcised; Max is considered as kosher as a box of matzo on Pesach. But my grandmother could not have understood the implications of the contest.

This idyllic scene in the Bronx living room masks a troubled childhood and a difficult life. At the age of eleven, my grandmother was thrown into a Jewish orphanage like an unwanted couch. Her father was absent and her mother was ill-equipped to deal with her fifth and youngest child. None of my grandmother's adult siblings summoned the desire to take in their kin. When my grandmother married at the age of 19, her mother sat shiva for her because my grandfather was a gentile. Her new in-laws weren't any more compassionate, both being anti-Semitic immigrants. Adulthood was equally as cruel; she outlived her son, my father, by 30 years and remained a widow for her last 20. Those tragedies fueled her lifelong struggle with depression.

But on June 8, 1933, my grandmother was an adorable child with her innocence in hand and her life ahead. She remembers the people congregating around the radio for a single purpose. It was a rare occasion when they truly were some semblance of a family.

My grandmother doesn't remember the specifics of the fight. She doesn't remember the clubbing lefts Baer fired into Schmeling's face in the first round. She doesn't remember when Baer faked another left and came back with a hard overhand right and then another. She doesn't remember the Livermore Larupper out-muscling Schmeling throughout the bout and grabbing the German behind the neck with his left while smacking him around with the right. Or the explosive right Baer landed while Schmeling was on the ropes. She doesn't remember the slick way the smaller Schmeling parried Baer's punches when he wasn't being nailed. Or when Baer began an unanswered flurry with a devastating right and punctuated it with another monstrous right that floored a dazed Schmeling. And she doesn't remember Schmeling getting up, stumbling around, and being punched in the back of the head before referee Arthur Donovan could wave off the punishment.

Baer would later go on to win the world heavyweight championship after destroying Primo Carnera and then lose the crown to Jim Braddock. Max retired from the ring in 1941. Some consider him the only Jewish heavyweight champion of the modern era while others question his link to the Jewish people. For my grandmother's family, and countless others like them, Baer's victory over Schmeling symbolized Jewish strength in the face of impending vulnerability. And for my grandma, Baer's bludgeoning of the Nazis' favored son starred in one of her painfully few pleasant memories of a mostly nonexistent family.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

2021 Israeli Amateur Championships

The lines between the amateur ranks and the pro game have become increasingly blurred in boxing. Some Jewish boxers who have turned pro were able to fight in last week's Israeli amateur championships. After going pro, Miroslav Kapuler, Yotham Shalom, Mikhael Ostroumov, and Artur Abramov all took part in the tournament held in Oranit.

Kapuler, who has also fought under the surname Ishchenko, dominated the 71 kg division. He stopped his first opponent in the second round and then swept his next two foes five to nothing on points. Miroslav is 2-0 as a pro with one KO. He last fought professionally in April.

After a bye in the quarterfinals, Shalom edged a victory in the semis by the score of 3-2. He swept the finals of the 57 kg division 5-0 on points. Yotham is 2-0-1 as a pro with one KO. His last fight for pay was a decision victory in 2019. He has been scheduled to fight professionally since then, but his fights have fallen through due to covid-19 restrictions.

Ostroumov stopped his opponent in the semis of the 86 kg division in the first round of the contest after earning a bye in the quarters. The tough body-assaulting southpaw dropped a decision in the final to 21-year old Yan Zak. Mikhael, sometimes spelled Mikhail, is 3-0-1 as a pro with one KO.

Abramov was stopped by Zak in the third round of their semifinal encounter. Artur won his lone pro fight by way of first round knockout. That bout took place in January of 2020.

The entire tournament results can be viewed here.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Boycotting the Olympics: Three Jewish Boxers who Protested the 1936 Games

"This is a matter of principle," proclaimed a 21 year old Jewish man from Washington, D.C.

Born on the final day of 1913, Lou Gevinson didn't just beat his amateur foes, he punished them. The southpaw featherweight pounded his way through tournaments separating his opponents from their senses. He won the D.C. Golden Gloves early in 1936 on route to a spot in the "Olympic Boxing Tryouts" held in Chicago's Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois.

Just as he had throughout much of his fighting career, Gevinson knocked out his first two opponents in the tournament. In the semifinal, however, Gevinson stumbled. Ted Kara, whose plane would fatally plunge into the Pacific Ocean during World War II, had won the Chicago Golden Gloves. A clear underdog, Kara bested Gevinson in the semifinal round at the Tryouts. Kara went on to represent the U.S. at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Gevinson's amateur run featured so much destruction of the opposition, he was chosen as an Olympic alternate instead of Joseph Church, who fell to Kara in the finals. But Gevinson declined the opportunity because of the Nazis' treatment of his Jewish brethren.


"Can we forget the way the German government is treating the Jewish boys in Germany?" wrote two Canadian boxers in their early 20s, "The German government is treating our brothers and sisters worse than dogs."

Benjamin Norman Yakubowitz was born on December 25, 1915 in Kiev, Ukraine. By the time of the 1936 Canadian Olympic trials, he was known as Baby Yack. He had grown up in a Toronto slum where he learned to fight. Baby Yack rose to become the Canadian amateur bantamweight champion and earn a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

"Being Jewish, there was no question about us going to Berlin," recalled the other boycotting Canadian.

Born on May 14, 1916, Sammy Luftspring experienced the same tough upbringing in Toronto as Baby Yack. Luftspring became the Canadian amateur welterweight champion in the run-up to the 1936 Olympics.

Yack and Luftspring agreed to participate in the People's Olympiad, an alternate to the Olympics, which was to be held in Barcelona, Spain. After securing funding, the two boxers sailed to Europe for the first time in their lives. They boarded a train headed for Barcelona but were held up on the Spanish border. There they learned the People's Olympiad had been canceled. The Spanish Civil War broke out.


Gevinson, Yack, and Luftspring all turned pro shortly after their Olympic boycott. Gevinson had his debut in November. He became an extremely popular attraction in the D.C. area. Lou was matched tough early hindering his career's trajectory significantly. The southpaw puncher fought the likes of Joey Archibald, Petey Sarron, and Lou Feldman: all losses. Gevinson fought in his last pro bout in 1939. He joined the U.S. army during World War II and worked for them until 1957. He passed in 1976.

Baby Yack turned pro in September after the Olympics. He rose to become a top ten bantamweight in the world according to The Ring. Thrown in tough early as well, he won the Canadian bantamweight title in his eighth pro fight and secured at least three successful defenses of the crown. Baby also retired in 1939 after fighting the likes of Indian Quintana and Harry Jaffre. He went into the Canadian army and later became a bookie and entangled with the mob. He subsequently worked as a cab driver. He passed in 1987.

Luftspring debuted on the same card as Yack on September 23, 1936 at Maple Leaf Gardens. At his peak, The Ring rated Sammy as a top ten welterweight in the world. In 1940, he was set to face Henry Armstrong for the world title, but in a tune up fight against Steven Belloise, he was thumbed in the eye and sustained a horrific eye injury that forced him to retire.

Luftspring fell on hard times emotionally for a while before working as a host at a nightclub. He also got back into boxing as a prolific referee and judge. In a match in 1970, Humberto Trottman took umbrage with Sammy's officiating and attacked him. The ex-welterweight punched back, and Trottman lost two fights that night. Luftspring refereed the last two bouts the night George Foreman fought five men consecutively. Sammy refereed until 1984 and judged until 1991. He passed in 2000.


Bibiliography
Christy, Jim. Flesh & Blood: A journey into the heart of boxing. 1990.
McDonald. Norris. "When Murphy Met Baby." Toronto Star. December 22, 2012.
Povich, Shirley. "A Boxer, and a Fighter for a Cause." The Washington Post. November 22, 1997. Pg. D1.
Povich, Shirley. "D.C. Native, Fought 3 Champions." The Washington Post. March 22, 1976. Pg. C4.
"Sammy Lufspring." Ontario Jewish Archives.
Silver, Mike. Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing. 2016.
Woolsey, Garth. "Retired Toronto boxer will always wonder what might have been." Toronto Star. August 8, 1992.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Gloves and Doves' Schedule Announced

Former professional boxer Tony Milch announced a tentative schedule for his Gloves and Doves program for the rest of the year.  Gloves and Doves, which promotes peace and unity through boxing, hosted a successful showcase last month in Isfiya, Israel.

Gloves and Doves announced a partnership with Albi Sorra's  Arena Boxing, which is based in Albania, for a possible show at the end of September. Sorra, a 7-0 fighter from Tirana, has featured Jewish boxers on Arena Boxing cards in the past, often in collaboration with B&B Promotions.

Milch is hoping to bring a team featuring fighters of different religious and ethnic backgrounds to his native country of England in late October. A native of Edgware, Milch finished his pro career with a 14-2 mark. All of his bouts took place in England.

Tony proposed another Gloves and Doves show in Israel in November and/or December, hoping to follow up on the Isfiya event in July.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Location Change for Cohen's September 18 Bout

Dr. Stefi Cohen, a champion weightlifter, is scheduled to fight on September 18. The event has had a number of changes since it was first announced.

The main event was a celebrity match featuring the winner of the 2018 World's Strongest Man competition Thor Bjornsson against the winner of the 2017 World's Strongest Man competition Eddie Hall. But Hall came down with an injury and the spectacle was postponed. Thor is looking for a new opponent, and the rest of the card is expected to proceed.

The event was to be held at VyStar Veteran's Memorial in Jacksonville, Florida, but that site has been scrapped over concerns about the rising impact of the Delta variant of covid-19. The organizers chose not to move the card to a more intimate venue in Jacksonville. They didn't move it to nearby Tampa or St. Pete. Neither St. Augustine not Orlando was chosen as a replacement city.

Instead, with a bit more than a month until it is slated to occur, the organizers moved the event just a bit farther to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The date is still the same, and Stefi Cohen is still being promoted as fighting on the card.

Cohen won her first pro fight on June 4 when she stopped Haidde Zapa in the third round in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Cohen, 29 years old, trains with Dr. Pedro Diaz. No opponent for her second bout has been announced.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Review of The Minuteman

The Minuteman: The Forgotten Legacy of Nat Arno and the Fight against Newark's Nazis
By Greg Donahue
Amazon Audible, 2020

Nat Arno grew up fighting before finding an outlet for his aggressive nature in the sport of boxing. He turned pro unfathomably young, doing so on his fifteenth birthday (though BoxRec lists a fight even a couple days earlier). When his parents found out, Arno was prohibited from boxing. After six months, he ran away from home to pursue his pugilistic career.

The Newark native didn't make enough money in the ring, so he supplemented his income by working as an enforcer for mobster Longie Zwillman's bootlegging enterprise. When the 21st Amendment was passed repealing Prohibition in 1933, Arno was left with a void.

But the repeal of Prohibition coincided with the rise of Nazism in Germany and in the United States. Arno is the jumping off point for this tale of how the Newark Minutemen, a group of Jewish boxers run by Zwillman, combated American Nazism, particularly in New Jersey.

Though this audio book clocks in at just under two hours, Greg Donahue provides dramatic and detailed accounts of some clashes between the Minutemen and the Nazis. He effectively puts these confrontations, and Arno's life, into proper historical perspective. Narrator Jonathan Davis strikes the right note throughout. His deep voice lends additional gravitas to Donahue's words. Through subtle accents, Davis makes it clear when someone is being quoted. It's a very good marriage between writer and performer.

That the book is exclusively in an audio format has its pros and cons. Davis's performance is fantastic, which is a positive feature of the format. But there are drawbacks, specifically with this book. Listening to the funny anecdotes or the dramatic encounters in the car isn't a problem, but the subject of Nazism is often, by definition, dark and upsetting. It isn't easy to listen straight through. Another issue with the format is that it hinders research. Donohue uncovers some wonderful quotes from the colorful people on whom he's reporting, but it can an annoying for a researcher to transcribe them.

The Minuteman is worth a listen for anyone interested in pre-World War II Jewish boxers, Newark history, or American Nazism in the 1930s. Donahue's effort provides the nonfiction background that nicely complements Leslie K. Barry's novel Newark Minutemen. In addition to Arno, Jewish boxing fans are treated to appearances from Puddy Hinkes, Abie Bain, Benny Levine, and Al Fisher among others.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Recap of the Tokyo Olympics

Pavlo Ishchenko was the last Jewish boxer to fight in the Olympics when he competed for Ukraine in 2012. The Ukrainian-Israeli bantamweight went on to win his three pro fights. Though no Jewish boxers participated this year in Tokyo, the Games did have a Jewish angle... although it's a bit of stretch.

First of all, the boxing competition held in the sacred shrine of sumo wrestling, Kokukigan Arena, was much better run than in recent Olympics primarily because of AIBA's absence. Under AIBA, Olympic boxing had come to be defined by incompetence and corruption. This time there were some minor controversies- controversy is like boxing's shadow, it seems to follow the sport. But by and large the judging was fair and the referees- except for their ridiculous obsession with the fighters keeping their heads up- were as well.

Jewish boxing fans likely rooted for their co-nationalists. For Americans that meant admiring the impressive performances of the gritty Oshea Jones, Duke Ragan who showed poise and strong combination punching, Richard Torrez Jr. whose volume punching and strong left pulled off a remarkable  upset against Kazakhstan's Kamshybek Kunkabayev, and Keyshawn Davis who has the skills and the mentality to become a pro star.

Among the heavier weights on the men's side, Uzbekistan's gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov (8-0 as a pro), Russia's silver medalist Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, New Zealand's bronze medalist David Nyika (1-0 as a pro), Torrez, and Kunkabayev (3-0 as a pro) all showed quality in multiple bouts.

The middle weights had plenty talent. At light heavyweight, Azerbaijan's Loren Alfonso and Great Britain's Ben Whittaker were such slick boxers while Russia's  Iman Khataev was unusually skilled for a man built like a tank. At middleweight Ukrainian Oleksander Khyzniak displayed precise aggression, but a left hook in the gold medal match ended his championship chances. Bronze medalist Eumir Marcial of the Philippines (1-0 as a pro),  Euri Cendeno of the Dominican Republic, and Ablikan Amankul were also worthy of note. Great Britain's Pat McCormack looked good in winning the silver medal at welter.

At the lighter weights, Armenian lightweight bronze medalist Hovhannes Bachkov (2-0 as a pro) and flyweight silver medalist Carlo Paalam of the Philippines were strong. And of course almost every member of the Cuban men's boxing team dominated their weight class.

On the women's side, flyweight gold medalist Stoyka Krasteva of Bulgaria, Brazilian lightweight silver medalist Beatriz Ferreira, and Great Britain's middleweight gold medalist Lauren Price all deserve recognition.

And while there were no Jewish boxers this time around, perhaps Yiddish-speaking fans rooted for Tajikistan's light heavyweight Shabbos Negmatulloev in his round of 32 match. Negmatulloev is quite literally a Shabbos goy even if he never spends a Friday night flicking on a light switch for an observant Jew.

It isn't know if welterweight Aliaksandr Radzionau is a rad zion-ist, but in any event the Belarussian made the round of 16. A Namibian lightweight shares not one but two names with the first female rabbi in modern history, Regina Jonas. Jonas Jonas also made it to the round of 16. And finally,  Russian welterweight bronze medalist Andrey Zamkovoy's opponents may have lamented their losses by uttering the last syllable of his surname, "Oy!" I told you it would be a stretch.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Foreman Says Show Must Go On

In a social media post, Rabbi Yuri Foreman said that during training runs the last couple of days, "All I hear in my mind is... 'The show must go on!' That's it."

Foreman, the best Jewish boxer of the 21st century, is 35-4 with 10 KOs. The 40-year old is a former junior middleweight champion, the first Israeli world titlist. After nearly four years out of the ring, Foreman defeated Jeremy Ramos by decision last December. He was scheduled to fight Jimmy "Quiet Storm" Williams in March, but he experienced covid-like symptoms just prior to the fight and ultimately tested positive for the virus.

Last month Foreman took on Williams in Atlanta. The Brooklyn-based fighter lost the contest by split decision. Before the fight, Foreman told Michael Woods of The Ring, "I'm good. I'm recovered [from covid-19]." He hasn't used the virus as an excuse for his narrow defeat to Williams, but it is a respiratory condition and Foreman relies on constant movement in the ring. The long term of effects of the virus seem to vary from person to person.

During his nearly 20-year pro career, Yuri has fought the likes of the legendary Miguel Cotto, a top pound-for-pound champ in Erislandy Lara, and world title belt-holders Daniel Santos and Cornelius Bundrage, to name a few.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Kaminsky Involved in Wild Brawl after Celebrity Boxing Match

David Kaminsky, an active boxer who worked as a trainer for a celebrity boxing match last night, found himself in the middle of a wild post-fight brawl. Kaminsky, a 6-1 (3 KOs) Israeli-born middleweight, trained Johnathan "Blueface Bleedem" Porter for his bout against Kane "Neumane" Trujillo in Tampa, Florida.

Blueface and Neumane fought in a bout billed as a bareknuckle boxing match although they both wore gloves. The ring was a circle. Both celebrities were new to boxing. Blueface, a rapper and gang member, holds down the more respectable day job as Neumane, a TikToker, has been accused of stealing other's material.

Inside the squared circle- er, I mean circled... uh, circle- Blueface came away with a unanimous decision victory. After the fight, an unauthorized man stormed into the ring and began yelling at Blueface. Kaminsky did what any good trainer would do and backed up his charge.

Blueface punched the man several times as security rushed in. Seven men surrounded Kaminsky and separated him from the intruder. It was likely a wise decision on all accounts as the 20 year old pro boxer was probably the most dangerous man in the ring. (link to video here) It also prevented Kaminsky from falling into trouble with the law. The interloper was yanked out of the circular ring after a struggle and eventually arrested, but not before tensions boiled over out of the ring in the back.

Speaking to Elie Seckbach, Kaminsky recounted the moment the trespasser entered the ring, "He swung at Blueface first and... we all tried to jump on him, but security was holding us back."

About the incident in the back, Kaminsky said, "He tried to talk shit again, he started coming up to Blueface, so we rushed him again."

Kaminsky also admitted to Seckbach that he's recovering from an ACL injury which is currently keeping him out of the ring.