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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Review of Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye

Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye: 50 Years in Boxing
By J. Russell Peltz
Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc., 2021

Hall of Famer J. Russell Peltz brings fifty years of experience in boxing to Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye. First entering boxing as a journalist, Peltz spent the next fifty years as a promoter and matchmaker primarily based in Philadelphia. This book is an entertaining combination of Philly boxing history mixed with a promoter's blueprint.

The most eye-opening revelations are how much promoters make (or lose) during a show, how much fighters get paid, and Peltz's relationship with others in the business. A major fear when a boxing promoter writes a book is that it's just a chance to settle scores. Peltz refreshingly admits many mistakes, praises many people. and yes, criticizes some with whom he worked. Peltz's critiques aren't attacks though, just his honest perspective.

Of the few Jewish boxers with whom Peltz did business, Mike Rossman was the most prominent. In his chapter on Rossman, the promoter portrays the "Jewish Bomber" as immensely talented but held back by an overbearing father. Just before Rossman's dad, Jimmy DePiano, died, he asked Peltz to look after his boy. Rossman's commitment to boxing after his dad's death understandably wavered. Peltz eventually cuts out the grieving son, effectively ending Rossman's career. Perhaps, that was his way of honoring DePiano's dying wish; Peltz doesn't say.

Several minyanim's worth of Jews make appearances in the book. Most, like Peltz himself, are non-participants. Marty Feldman, a middleweight who fought in the 1950s, is singled out as a mensch. He trained and managed a few fighters Peltz promoted, and Russell has more than a few kind words about Feldman.

Backstories, like those of Rossman and Feldman, give great context to the amusing, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking anecdotes Peltz delivers. The editing is not the cleanest, however. The typos range from the completely understandable but content-altering (mistaking Kelvin Kelly, the 1980s Philly-born light heavyweight for Kevin Kelley, the 1990s featherweight champion from New York) to the utterly trivial (Alfred Kotey is described as relocating to Silver Springs, Maryland, a mistake that maybe only a DC-area Marylander, which this reviewer happens to be, would catch. For some inexplicable reason, this error pisses off us 301ers to no end, and I'm not even from Silver Spring!). This does not detract from the book, though.

For those interested in learning about the business side of the sport or about the history of Philadelphia boxing, Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye is the perfect book for you. And if you aren't interested in Philly boxing history- people like Joe Frazier, Bennie Briscoe, and Gabe Rosado just to name a few- maybe you just don't like boxing.

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