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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.

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