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Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Year in Review in Jewish Boxing

For the second year in a row, covid-19 dominated the storyline. Fighters contracted the virus, fights were canceled or postponed, and a new variant threatens to continue the trend into 2022. In addition, Zachary Wohlman tragically passed away in February.

Despite the pandemic, some Jewish boxers were able to fight this past year. The biggest win came in October when Cletus Seldin knocked out William Silva in the seventh round of their fight in Brooklyn. One of the alphabet organizations ranks the 35-year-old Seldin in their top ten in the junior welterweight division. The New Yorker seeks a big fight in 2022.

Other world class competitors, Yuri Foreman and Isaac Chilemba, weren't able to secure wins this year. Foreman dropped a majority decision to Jimmy Williams in June after testing positive for covid-19 in March. Chilemba had a controversial draw with Fedor Chudinov in February and a unanimous decision loss to Pavel Silyagin in November. Chilemba called Silyagin a future world champion.

David Alaverdian and Shawn Sarembock both went 3-0 in 2021. Alaverdian, a flyweight, is 5-0 with 4 KOs. Sarembock, a junior middleweight, is 7-0 with 7 KOs. Miroslav Kapuler, a junior middleweight, won two fights in 2021 to improve his record to 3-0 with one KO. Mor Oknin won his debut in April.

Former two-division world champion Carolina Duer and powerlifting world record holder Dr. Stefi Cohen also had a successful year in the ring. At the age of 43, Duer won a decision over Silvia Fernanda Zacarias in August. Cohen has started her career 1-0-1. She stopped Haydee Zapa in the third round of their fight in the Dominican Republic in June. Cohen fought Marcela Nieto to a draw in September.

Igor Lazarev was 1-1, Benny Sinakin went 0-1, and Nikita Basin was stopped in both of his bouts after a twenty-month layoff.

John Jarrett's The Great Benny Leonard, Jeffrey Sussman's Holocaust Fighters, and J. Russell Peltz's Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye were all published in 2021.

A big thank you to everyone who followed The Jewish Boxing Blog this year and a special thank you to those who offered their support on BuyMeACoffee.com. Stay tuned for big things in 2022!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Look Back: Puddy Hinkes

Filled with righteous indignation and pride in his People, Puddy Hinkes possessed perhaps a pinch of psychopathy.

"The Nazi scumbags were meeting one night on the second floor," recalled Puddy. "Nat Arno and I went upstairs and threw stink bombs into the room where the creeps were." A burgeoning movement of Nazism began to sweep over the United States in the 1930s. Hinkes and his friend Nat Arno, both former boxers, aimed to squash the threat.

"As they came out of the room, running from the horrible odor of the stink bombs and running down the steps to go into the street to escape, our boys were waiting with bats and iron bars," Hinkes remembered. "It was like running a gauntlet. Our boys were lined up on both sides and we started hitting, aiming for their heads or any other part of their bodies, with our bats and irons. The Nazis were screaming blue murder."

Puddy concluded, "This was one of the most happy moments of my life.”

Puddy loved boxing because he loved violence. While Hinkes watched a boxing match between a Jew and a gentile, a member of the crowd yelled out something crass that Puddy deemed anti-Semitic. Something such as, "Kill the Jew!" Puddy opened his mouth, took out his lit cigar, and extinguished it in the heckler's eye.

Max Hinkes was born on March 18, 1911 in a thriving New Jersey city. Had Prohibition never passed, perhaps he would have followed in the footsteps of his father David, a Yiddish-speaking immigrant from Austria who owned his own construction business. Dora, his mother, would have been so proud of her third-born son. But alcohol became illegal in 1920. Newark would house more speakeasies than Manhattan as crime derailed the city's progress. Longie Zwillman, Max's future boss who was based in Newark's Jewish Third Ward, had a hand in much of the bootlegging on the East Coast.

At 17, Max began his boxing career. BoxRec lists Hinkes, alias Puddy, as 10-1 during his three year career, scoring eight knockouts. He likely fought more than that. His first seven documented bouts were against fighters making their pro debuts. He fought in and around the middleweight division.

Zwillman often used boxers as enforcers for his bootlegging operations including Hinkes and Arno. The end of Prohibition created a void in Zwillman's operations, one that was quickly filled by the rise of Nazism.

As the popularity of Nazism in America grew during the 1930s, Zwillman and his team of enforcers, dubbed the Newark Minutemen, took it upon themselves to protect Jewish Americans by violently confronting these Nazi sympathizers. Puddy took particular delight in maiming Nazis.

Myron Sugerman, a former Newark gangster, recalled, "When the goyim, particularly the Irish toughs, would come into the Prince Street area, where the Jews congregated in Newark, and they would beat up elderly Jews or belittle them and pull their beards, the old Jews would holler for Puddy. And Puddy provided physical protection for these old-timers... It was Puddy's great pleasure to take a stick and beat a bunch of guys and break heads. He loved a good fight."

Puddy worked for Longie until Zwillman's passing in 1959. Without Zwillman's protection, Hinkes soon fell on hard times.

He ran a card room and sports betting operation on Chancellor Avenue when Harold "Kayo" Konigsberg came looking for a fellow who owed him money. Konigsberg destroyed the place, which forced Puddy to talk to members of the Italian mob for protection.

Hinkes was soon warned that the authorities were searching for him, so he fled to New York and laid low. When he resurfaced, the Italian mob had taken over his numbers racket.

Years later, an older Jew spoke with Sugerman. "Myron, help out Puddy, even though he is no fucking good and nobody has a good word to say about him. We have to help him out, because it is a disgrace for the Jews that we don't help out one of our own. So, see if you can give him a job,” Sugerman recalls the old man saying.

Puddy, who was 80 years old by this point, was installed as president of one of Sugerman's shell companies. When the company was raided and Hinkes found himself before a federal judge, a prosecutor questioned him about his role in the company. After Puddy explained his duties, the prosecutor seemed unimpressed, "Then in fact, Mr. Hinkes, you do very little as president of the company.” Puddy responded, "Mr. Prosecutor, for $10,000 a year, what would you do?”

On April 8, 1995 in Essex, New Jersey, Max "Puddy" Hinkes died. Few shed a tear for the man Sugerman describes as "not someone very appreciated by anybody," but the world undeniably became a less colorful place.

Barry, Leslie K. Newark Minutemen. 2020.
Deitche, Scott. Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey. 2018.
Donahue, Greg. The Minuteman. 2020.
Rockaway, Robert A. "Hoodlum Hero: The Jewish Gangster as Defender of His People, 1919-1949." American Jewish History. Vol. 82, No 1/4. 1994. Pgs. 215-235.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Review of President of Pandemonium

President of Pandemonium: The Mad World of Ike Ibeabuchi
By Luke G. Williams
Hamilcar Publications, 2021.

Ike Ibeabuchi scored two impressive victories over undefeated contenders as part of his quest to achieve heavyweight supremacy in the late 1990s. In a thrilling fight, the Nigerian native notched a unanimous decision upset over devastating puncher David Tua in 1997. Three fights and two years later, Ibeabuchi stopped skilled southpaw Chris Byrd in the fifth round of their bout. He looked ready to challenge Lennox Lewis for the title.

But Ibeabuchi faced inner demons. His preparation suffered as his mental health seemingly deteriorated. Violent run-ins with the law eventually derailed his promising career. He left a trail of victims in his wake.

Luke G. Williams provides a fair-minded and thorough analysis of a complicated man with a tarnished legacy. He gives great background about Ibeabuchi's homeland, Nigeria, which is the seventh most populous nation on the planet and quickly climbing, and details the role his Igbo culture had on his outlook.

Ibeabuchi's mental health struggles aren't mocked or dismissed as boxing writers are wont to do, but neither are they an excuse for his irresponsible and violent behavior. Williams does an excellent job piecing together interviews from the people around the self-proclaimed "President" to provide a window into his life.

One of those people was Cedric Kushner, a South African Jew who served as Ibeabuchi's promoter. Kushner, who died in 2015, didn't see much promise in Ike at first. He soon realized what a prize this fighter truly was. About Kushner, Williams ultimately concludes, "[H]is apparent failure to insist that Ibeabuchi get help remains morally questionable."

Though another Jewish promoter, Bob Arum, makes an appearance, Kushner is the main Jewish character in the book. Ibeabuchi never faced a Jewish opponent. Tim Puller would have been the most likely foe, but their paths never crossed in the ring. They did have common opponents, however. Both KOed Mike Acklie in the first, and both fought nearly five whole rounds with Chris Byrd. Ibeabuchi stopped Byrd with a second to go in the fifth while Byrd stopped Puller with five seconds to go in the same round.

Though there's not much of a Jewish angle in President of Pandemonium, it's worth a read for the fantastic reporting. The 1990s were something of a golden age for the heavyweight division and Ibeabuchi was nearly a major player. This is a great book for fans who want a different look at that era.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Lazarev Off Tomorrow's Card, Kaminsky to Announce Fight Date

Igor Lazarev was scheduled to fight Angelo Peña tomorrow, Sunday December 26 in Bern, Switzerland. Peña will now make his debut against a different opponent as Lazarev is now off the card. Lazarev is a lightweight while Peña, the local amateur star, fought as a featherweight in the unpaid ranks. It would be hard to imagine Lazarev, at 35 years old, would still feel strong dropping down to 126 pounds for the first time in his career. 

Lazarev fought twice in 2021. In June, he beat Marius Col by majority decision in a six-round bout. A month ago, Igor dropped a decision on points to Greg McGuinness, an undefeated prospect. Lazarev is now 8-2 with 3 KOs.

In a recent Instagram post, David Kaminsky acknowledged that 2021 has been a tough year for him. He hopes to announce a fight date early in 2022. David has been recovering from a serious knee injury.

The 21 year old Israeli is based in California, USA. Currently sporting a 6-1 record with 3 KOs, Kaminsky last fought in June of 2020 when he lost to Clay Collard by split decision. David has primarily fought around the middleweight limit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Perils of Cutting Weight

Making weight is one of the toughest challenges a professional boxer faces. In order to come in under a contractionally obligated weight limit, pros typically not only train constantly, but also eat healthily. "You can’t out train a bad diet," says Tony Milch, a former 14-2 professional boxer who currently runs the Gloves and Doves program. Boxing isn't just a job; it's a lifestyle

There are times when a fighter is unable to make the weight through diet and exercise alone. When that happens, the boxer is forced to cut weight. Cutting weight essentially means shedding pounds quickly in a short period of time. It's dangerous, and it's difficult.

Here's what a number of boxers had to say about cutting weight:

"I was always in training when I was a pro. Cutting weight is one of the hardest parts of training," says Milch.

"I don't cut much weight anymore, but when I used to in the amateur days, I would say, uh, even if I tried to explain how horrible it is, I wouldn't be able to." says David Alaverdian (5-0), a 28 year old flyweight prospect.

"It's the hardest part of boxing," claims Cletus Seldin (26-1), a 35 year old junior welterweight contender. Seldin is one of the few boxers who has actually gone down in weight, beginning his career in the 147 pound division.

"Cutting the weight was becoming not only a chore, it was terrible for my health and conditioning," Callum Smith (28-1), a 31 year old former super middleweight world title belt-holder told DAZN after moving up to light heavyweight.

"It’s hell on earth. You're hungry 24/7, you're thirsty 24/7... Your body feels like your insides are getting cooked. And this might go on for 2-3 weeks," explains Benny Sinakin (6-1), a 24 year old light heavyweight prospect.

"When it's a real weight cut, it feels like you might die," says Dmitriy Salita (35-2-1), a junior welterweight world title challenger who hung up the gloves in 2013 and is now a promoter.

Record-breaking powerlifter Stefi Cohen, a 29 year old featherweight who is 1-0-1 as a pro boxer needed just one word to describe what cutting weight feels like: "Hunger."


There are several ways to cut weight just before the weigh-in. Benny Sinakin explains, "You have to sit in the sauna, go running, hit the bag, and basically do heavy cardio to burn [off the weight]. And you have to wear a sauna suit on top of that."

Despite the dangers, making weight is extremely important even if that means cutting. Missing weight can lead to fines, canceled fights, or ridicule from the press. Joan Guzman- an Olympian and two-division world champion with enormous talent- should be a household name, but he made a career of badly missing weight. He lost money, chances at more world titles, and a platform to fight regularly on HBO. On one occasion, Guzman made weight but his fight was ruled a no contest when he tested positive for a diuretic.

If Guzman's career is a cautionary tale about the dangers of missing weight, Danny O'Connor's is a cautionary tale about trying to make weight.

O'Connor was set to fight for his first world title against Jose Ramirez, a 140-pound belt-holder, on July 7, 2018. During his career, O'Connor had fought between the junior welterweight and junior middleweight divisions. But in his previous two fights he came in under the 140 pound junior welterweight limit and therefore felt he could continue to make the weight. On the day before the fight, O'Connor was two pounds overweight with the weigh-in just hours away. He went to the sauna to shed the remaining pounds.

O'Connor passed out when he left the sauna. When he woke up, he was incoherent. "Four bags of fluids did not hydrate him," writes Mark Whicker. "O’Connor was hospitalized and his kidneys approached dysfunction."

Danny O'Connor hasn't fought since. Just as it was heating up, his career ended.


The timing of the weigh-in often enters discussions about weight cutting. These days, most weigh-ins are held the day before the fight. The move away from day-of weigh-ins was made because it was too dangerous for a weight-drawn fighter to step into the ring after only hours of rehydration. Yet, this has caused separate issues. Allowing for more time to rehydrate and eat has incentivized fighters to push the limits of weight cutting so that they can hold a significant weight advantage come fight night. Michael Rosenthal discusses the debate further in The Ring. Holding multiple weigh-ins might be the answer. 


About the legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, conditioning coach Leo Thalassites, who would eventually become the oldest living cop in the U.S., once told Bernard Fernandez, "He's always been able to take off weight, but he didn't always take it off the right way."

Taking off the pounds "the right way" is the best option to avoid a dangerous weight cut. Boxers tend to share similar ideas about how to lose weight safely, but in practice they each do it a bit differently.

Amateur boxer Chananya Davids says of making weight responsibly, "It's a whole long process that takes a month."

David Alaverdian says, "Morning is cardio, and evening is boxing." The 112 pounder eats healthy food and never balloons up to more than 120 pounds. Typically, his walking around weight is even less than that.

Dr. Stefi Cohen, the powerlifting boxer who earned a PhD in physical therapy and exercise physiology, stresses the most fundamental aspect of losing weight is to burn more calories than you put in, what she calls a calorie deficit. "In order to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit," she says. Tony Milch concurs. He advises, "Train really hard and take in fewer calories, so burning more than you're fueling gets you down to weight!"

Milch was "never more than seven to ten pounds over even two months out from a fight." He took in "loads of water and carbs during the day only, but not at night." Milch would, "run on empty in the morning and then fuel up."

Kerry Kayes, a former bodybuilder who is now a strength and nutrition coach, agrees with Milch about hydration. "Water weight is not true body mass weight. A two liter bottle of water weighs four pounds, so if a boxer doesn't drink the bottle of water, he think he won't weigh the four pounds. The reality is when you cut back on water, your body starts to hold water, which is the worst thing you can do," Kayes told Sky Sports.

"The best way to get rid of water is to drink lots of water," says Kayes. That's because a hydrated fighter sweats easier. 

"The best way to lose weight is to eat adequate amounts of protein and cut back on carbohydrates." Kayes argues that if a boxer cuts back on protein, the body cannibalizes muscle and once it does that, the body's metabolism slows which makes losing weight very difficult.

Dr. Cohen agrees with Kayes about the importance of protein. When it comes to losing weight, she recommends, "Eat protein with all your meals." According to Cohen, as long as the protein is consumed within 24 hours of the workout, the benefits are the same as if it's immediately consumed.


Cutting weight is a process filled with horrors, but even losing weight the "right way" is difficult. Most professional boxers work another job or two, so they're trying to make weight while also working. For the more famous boxers, media requests skyrocket during fight week, just when weight loss is at its most urgent period.  And then there's the agitation we all feel when we're on a diet. But for boxers, the stakes are much higher.

Even Milch, who "never cut too much," explains, "It's hard because you get on edge when close to a fight, but that's what makes a professional."

For many boxers, the toughest fight comes not in the ring, but in the weeks, days, and hours before stepping onto the scales. Even before a single punch is thrown, their health is on the line.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Cletus Seldin's Wild Run

Less than a week after knocking out William Silva in the main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, last October, Cletus Seldin went for a customary long run around Long Island. Seldin would end up running over 26 miles in just over four hours. He has run longer distances before, but seldom has Seldin had a more memorable run.

Wearing a stained cut-off gray t-shirt under a five-o'clock shadow with his wild curly hair dripping out of a red bandana, Seldin's stomach began to rumble, a familiar feeling for anyone who has run long distances. That feeling turns all runners into math experts, "I have this much time until disaster. If I have to go X distance at Y speed, will I make it in time?" The sun crept up in the east as Cletus scrambled to find any open store willing to handle his business.

Fortunately, he finally found an open Walgreens. Once his most urgent concern was alleviated, he realized his feet hurt. So, he bought some tiger balm. Outside of the Walgreens, he applied the balm to his feet before he continued his run. A stranger spotted him seated on the sidewalk outside the store.

"Hey man, here's ten dollars," the man offered.

Cletus declined the money. He looked at his wardrobe and opined, "Maybe I need to reconsider my attire."

"World Rated Junior Welterweight Mistaken for Homeless Beggar" would have been the headline had that been all that happened.

After sharing the incident on Instagram, a woman began yelling at Cletus, filming him with her phone. "He's peeing! He's peeing!" the woman shouted at the 35 year old contender who sports a record of 26-1 with 22 KOs. "I'm calling the police!"

Cletus sat in shock. He was still applying the balm to his aching feet on the sidewalk outside of Walgreens. Seldin chose the most logical option available in that situation which was to film the incident himself and yell back a defense that he was, in fact, not peeing.

Thankfully, the woman soon realized her mistake and hollered an apology from her car. The police were not called to question Seldin about any bodily fluids. For his part, the Hebrew Hammer had an airtight alibi since he had been recording his reaction to the recent offer of financial aid just seconds before he was accused of public urination.

So there was Cletus, a disheveled and tired looking man seemingly talking to himself with his shoes off sitting on the sidewalk of the Walgreens early in the morning about to continue his marathon-length run on his way up the 140-pound rankings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Review of Slaughter in the Streets

Slaughter in the Streets: When Boston Became Boxing's Murder Capital
By Don Stradley
Hamilcar Publications, 2020

In Slaughter in the Streets, Don Stradley chronicles boxing in Boston and the influence of the mob in the city. Boxing was never as big in Boston as it was in New York, but the sport held significance in the city during the first half of the twentieth century, particularly during the '30s and '40s. After the inception of the International Boxing Club in 1949, Boston ceased to be an important boxing town. But the mob's clout remained until Whitey Bulger exited the scene earlier in this century.

Boston was primarily controlled by the Irish and Italian mobs, which preyed upon young boxers coaxing them to join as enforcers. The murder of Jewish mobster Charles "King" Solomon essentially signified the end of any real influence of the Jewish mob in the capital of Massachusetts.

But there were Boston-based Jewish boxers who fell victim to the ruthlessness of the mob. Nate Siegel, Charley "KO" Elkins (born Joseph Wolf), and Morris "Whitey" Hurwitz are all featured in Slaughter in the Streets. Promoter Sam Silverman was one of the most powerful men in New England boxing during his nearly 40 year career. He too met an untimely end.

Stradley finds the right balance when describing the murders of Siegel, Elkins, Hurwitz, and the other victims profiled in the book. You know exactly how they died, but not in such graphic detail that will make you want to throw up. Stradley logically organizes the book into brief chapters profiling murdered boxers, but the victims act as a conduit to push the fascinating narrative of boxing and the mob in Boston.

Slaughter in the Streets is for boxing fans who want to learn more about the rise and fall of the sweet science in an often overlooked city. It's a must read for anyone interested in the mob and its role in boxing.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Shawn Sarembock Scores Second Round Stoppage

Shawn Michael Sarembock knocked down Adrian Zendejas twice in the second round of their fight tonight at Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. Sarembock notched his seventh consecutive KO victory to start his pro career.

Zendejas's record was nothing to brag about, but the 29 year old from Tijuana came out firing. He'd crouch and then jump at Sarembock with a jab. Zandejas didn't land much, but he indicated his intention to fight.

The most striking aspect of Shawn's game is his poise. He casually blocked the hailstorm coming his way as he inched forward waiting for the right moment to strike. With about a minute left in the first round, Sarembock popped Zendejas with a chopping right. From that point forward, the taller 30 year old Arizonan landed increasingly cleaner shots with both hands to take the round.

Zendejas did not look like a man who was about to lose his sixteenth fight in a row at the start of the second round. He was slippery in the pocket and then landed a good combination as the round began. He connected with a right to the body and then threw a punch that appeared similar until it changed course midway and landed to Sarembock's head. At that moment, it looked like anybody's fight!

Then Sarembock, who the announcers incorrectly called "Shamrock" then entire time, patiently tossed out another chopping right and Zendejas collapsed. He almost missed the count but stood up at nine. He was still woozy as Shawn charged towards him. Sarembock took what Zendejas gave him, digging a hard right to the body when the veteran from Tijuana covered his head. Sarembock then delivered another crushing right that sent Zendejas to the canvas yet again. The referee sensibly waved off the fight.

In winning by TKO in the second round, Sarembock advanced his record to 7-0 with 7 KOs and broke the seventh-fight curse. None of the previous four Jewish boxers to sport a 6-0 record were able to improve to 7-0. Zendejas is now 4-26 with 4 KOs. He has now been stopped in six of his last seven fights.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Sarembock Trying to Break the Seventh Fight Curse

Shawn Sarembock is scheduled to fight tonight at the famed Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. The junior middleweight from Arizona is currently 6-0 with 6 KOs since he turned pro in 2019. The thirty year old will hope to break the seventh-fight curse that has plagued Jewish boxers for the last several years.

The last fighter covered by The Jewish Boxing Blog to raise their record to 7-0 was Tony Milch. Milch scored a six-round points victory over Daniel Borisov on March 7, 2015. He'd go on to win his first 13 pro fights.

On January 16, 2016, Dustin Fleischer won a unanimous decision victory over Lionel Jimenez to go to 6-0. He subsequently retired from prizefighting.

David Kaminsky was 6-0 when he stepped into the ring against Clay Collard on June 18, 2020. Collard came out with a split decision victory denying Kaminsky a 7-0 record. Kaminsky hasn't fought since as he recovers from a knee injury.

Three months later, on September 20, Igor Lazarev attempted to get his seventh victory in as many fights. But Binali Shakhmandarov caught Igor, who could never find his way back into the fight, with a brain-scrambling punch. The ref stopped the contest in the second round, and Lazarev's record fell to 6-1. He is now 8-2.

On April 3 of this year, Benny Sinakin was 6-0 heading into his fight with Afunwa King. King won by majority decision. Benny hasn't been in the ring since.

Sarembock is the fifth Jewish fighter to reach the 6-0 mark since, but if he wins tonight, he would be the first to go 7-0 in over six and half years.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Cohen Out, Lazarev In

Lightweight Igor Lazarev is scheduled to fight Angelo Peña on December 26 at Kursaal Arena in Bern, Switzerland. Dr. Stefi Cohen was originally scheduled to fight on this card, but she is now off it. She is currently is Switzerland with her coach Dr. Pedro Diaz running training sessions, but will head back to the States before the 26th.

Lazarev, 35 years old, is 8-2 with 3 KOs. After winning his first six pro bouts, Lazarev suffered a setback last year. He then won two straight before dropping his last bout on points. On November 27, Igor battled Greg McGuinness in a six-round affair in McGuinness's hometown. The southpaw's aggression carried the day, but Lazarev showed some slick and clever boxing ability at times during the fight.

Peña is making his pro debut at 27 years old. From just outside Bern, Peña is a southpaw with an experienced amateur career. According to SwissBoxing.com, he amassed an amateur record of 34-7 from 2017 until his last bout on November 21. He showed a quick jab and good footwork in the unpaid ranks.

This six-round bout is scheduled for the featherweight division. The lightest Lazarev has weighed in for a fight is 131.5 pounds. He was 133.5 for his last fight a couple of weeks ago. Peña fought as a 126 pounder in the amateurs. This will be the seventh different country Igor has fought in as a pro boxer. The adventurous Israeli has also boxed in Moldova, Ukraine, Albania, Turkey, Bulgaria, and England. In addition, he participated in a couple of unofficial boxing matches held in a circular ring in Israel a couple of years ago.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Where is Cletus Seldin Ranked?

Cletus Seldin is a 26-1 junior welterweight who has stopped 22 of his opponents inside the distance. He last fought on October 16, when he concocted a stunning comeback knockout over the respectable William Silva. It was his first fight in twenty months.

One of the four major alphabet organizations currently rates the 35 year old New Yorker as the eighth best challenger in the world in the 140 pound division. Another rates him number 14. The two others don't have him in the top 15.

Maybe Seldin is the eighth best junior welterweight in the world, maybe he isn't. Irrespective of the Hebrew Hammer's spot on any of the lists, the alphabet organizations' rankings are a joke. 

Jose Zepeda and Jose Ramirez are generally regarded as two of the four best 140 pounders in the world. According to two of the alphabet organizations, neither is even in their top 15. This isn't merely an issue of reasonable minds can differ. Alberto Puello is the number one challenger in one of the organizations, number 13 in another, and unrated in the other two. These sanctioning bodies care more about dollars donated than punches landed.

BoxRec is an invaluable service for recording fights, but its ratings system is famously broken. Seldin is the 59th best junior welterweight in the world according to BoxRec's flawed rankings. Cletus may not yet deserve to be as high at eighth, but he is surely better than 59th.

The Transnational Boxing Rankings and The Ring both do a better job with their rankings. Both have Ramirez in the second spot and Zepeda one behind him. The problem is they only include the top ten challengers. Seldin isn't on either list at this time. Tellingly, neither is Puello.

In any event, the best way to ensure a good ranking in the TBR or The Ring is to fight and win.

For a thrilling fight, Seldin could take on the Beast, Ivan Baranchyk, an all-action fighter who has lost three of his last four fights, albeit against excellent competition. For a battle against a name opponent, southpaw Anthony Yigit could be a good choice. Yigit religiously identifies as Muslim but also claims Russian Jewish heritage* and has wins over two former European champs, Joe Hughes and Sandor Martin. Ismael Barroso is another beatable opponent who is ranked #2 in the organization in which Seldin is #8. Barroso also has a win, albeit a controversial one, over the only man to best Cletus, Yves Ulysse.

Whichever direction Seldin and his team choose to take, hopefully "Da Hamma" won't have to wait another twenty months for a fight.

*Shout out to our friends at Jewish Baseball News for alerting The JBB about Yigit's Jewish heritage. When contacted, Yigit gave no indication he wished to be included in The JBB's coverage though.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Review of Sporting Blood

Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing
By Carlos Acevedo
Hamilcar Publications, 2020.

Sporting Blood consists of just over twenty brief portraits of noteworthy boxers. The real star of the book is Carlos Acevedo, whose artistry with words is reminiscent of an ancient sculptor with clay. The ideas behind each article aren't too complicated, but Acevedo stretches even the most educated person's vocabulary, though for the most part, his linguist punches find their target.

Generally, Acevedo chronicles an ex-champion who was on top of the world before his life found a tragic end. Don Jordan, Johnny Saxton, Johnny Tapia, Aaron Pryor, and Tony Ayala are just some of the boxers in this book who fit this archetype. A few chapters focus elsewhere: Muhammad Ali isn't the ideal icon for American liberals, Joe Frazier always resented Ali, and Roberto Duran showed surprising compassion for Esteban DeJesus when DeJesus was ill.

Al Singer, the lone Jewish boxer to receive his own profile, follows the familiar path of meteoric rise to the top followed by crashing fall. The other chapters in the book are more satisfying than the one about Singer, unfortunately. Acevedo relies too much on the curmudgeonly columnist Westbrook Pegler, who seemed to have a particular disdain for Singer. Acevedo plays up Singer's incidental ties to the mob although he doesn't make any explicit accusations. He conflates Singer's nicknames- "the Bronx Beauty" and "the Battling Bronco of the Bronx"- to "The Bronx Bronco," which is the mascot of Bronx Community College. But it's fun to read just how popular Al Singer was in his heyday.

Jewish boxers Saoul Mamby, Leach Cross, Solly Seeman, Ruby Goldstein, Sid Terris, and Mike Rossman all make brief cameos in the book. Bob Arum appears in a profile of Davey Moore. Acevedo doesn't much care for "Bottom Line Bob." He writes, "Not even the moral stain of apartheid could prevent Arum from making money in South Africa."

Sporting Blood is for those of us who love boxing history written in elegant prose. You'll learn a lot, but even if you don't, it's worth a read for the beautiful writing.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Next Gloves and Doves Show on December 16 in Israel

Former pro boxer Tony Milch's Gloves and Doves initiative is hosting an amateur show in the Arab town of Majd al-Kurum, located in northern Israel, on December 16.  The mission of Gloves and Doves is to spread peace and unity in the Middle East. Gloves and Doves held a show in London, England last month and hosted one in Israel this past July.

True to its mission, this upcoming show will feature amateur youths from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in eleven fights. The event will be streamed live on WBC Middle East's Facebook page.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Jewish Boxing Blog Update

The Jewish Boxing Blog has a lot of new projects, and since this is a slow news period in the world of Jewish boxing, this seems like a good time to mention them. Traffic to the site has exploded recently, so thank you to everyone who visits The JBB.

There is a link to The JBB's Linktree page on the site. You can view the different sites associated with The Jewish Boxing Blog there.

On Twitter, a birthday, big fight anniversary, or yahrzeit date of a Jewish boxer is posted each day. New articles from this site and articles about Jewish boxers from other sites are also shared there. Check it out here.

The JBB joined Instagram because Jewish boxers share a lot of news there. The JBB has started to post more pictures of Jewish boxers, fight posters, etc. And check out The JBB's stories for news. The Instagram page is here.

There's a new a weekly newsletter via Buymeacoffee.com. There'll be a link to the most recent newsletter on the site. Here is the newsletter for the week of November 29. A donation of as a little as $3 will get you access to all newsletters. Here's a page that has a list of all of them.

Donations through Buymeacoffee.com are much appreciated. I want to give a giant thank you to those who have already offered their financial support. That support is very meaningful.

Check out The JBB's new page of featured books. These are recommended by the editor of the The Jewish Boxing Blog. If you purchase a book by clicking on a link, Amazon gives The JBB a tiny reward, but you pay the same price, so if you plan on purchasing any of these books, using the links on The JBB is much appreciated.

In addition to covering all of the Jewish boxing news, this site will also offer more book reviews and more columns about different relevant topics. Thank you for supporting The Jewish Boxing Blog and stay tuned as the site continues to grow!