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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Top 5 Jewish Dutch Boxers

 Erik Brouwer's Top 5 Jewish Dutch Boxers

An award-winning writer and journalist, Erik Brouwer has written for a plethora of Dutch publications. The author of nine books, his latest is called The Fighter of Auschwitz about the great Jewish boxer Leen Sanders, a Holocaust survivor who was forced to fight other inmates at Auschwitz. It's truly an incredible book that beautifully sets the Dutch boxing scene of the era (The JBB's full review can be found here.)

This terrific list includes both amateur and professional achievements. It should also be noted that Sam Kingley was born Samuel Glasoog.

1. Leen Sanders
2. Ben Bril
3. Sam Kingsley
4. Barry Groenteman
5. Isaac Brander

Other Top 5s
Jewish French Boxers
Jewish Female Boxers
Jewish Israeli Boxers
Jewish British Boxers
Jewish Canadian Boxers
Jewish North African Boxers

Monday, September 25, 2023

Introducing Tomer Benny

Subscribers to the Jewish Boxing Newsletter already know Tomer Benny's name. Soon, the rest of the boxing world will learn it as well.

A native of Tel Aviv, Benny has recently been training in Las Vegas, Nevada. During his time in Sin City, he has gained some hard-earned experience, sparring with some tough pros. Jamel Herring, the former world champion, gave him some good work this past weekend.

A junior welterweight, Benny is in Vegas preparing for an amateur bout there before he fights in a tournament in Arizona. He's targeting the Under-22 European Championships in November.

The 18 year old prospect has big plans. "I'll try to qualify for the Olympics next year, and hopefully I'll turn pro right after," he told The Jewish Boxing Blog.

"His future depends on him, but his talent is definitely champ quality," David Alaverdian, an undefeated pro who has trained a bit with Benny, told The JBB. "And the kid works hard. That's for sure!"

Keep an eye out for Tomer Benny. He's one to watch.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Review of Stars and Scars

Stars and Scars: The Story of Jewish Boxing in London

By Jeff Jones
Amberley Publishing, 2023

Jeff Jones's noble mission in Stars and Scars is to show "the importance of Jews to sport" and to dispel "the perceived notion that their involvement was marginal." Through plenty of fascinating anecdotes, biographical sketches, and wonderfully illuminating information, Jones more than meets his aim.

He contends, "From Mendoza to Milch, 230 years of London Jewish boxing has witnessed some astonishing events." Jones recounts the enthralling lives of men like the colorful Cockney Cohen, the slick Harry Mizler, the elite Ted "Kid" Lewis, the incomparable Micky Duff, the whirlwind Jack "Kid" Berg, the veteran Sid Nathan, and many more.

A scattershot organization and the need for a good line edit prevent this book from being on the "Mount Rushmore" of Jewish boxing books, however. Everything from bareknuckle brawlers to stars, journeyman, promoters, referees, and venues are covered. There are chapters on boxing families and boxers who fought in war. The piecemeal stories of Berg, Mizler, and Lewis - to name a few- could have been more powerful if they had been weaved into a chronological narrative that provided clearer context for their careers. The terms "reasonable" and "useful" are overused to described serviceable fighters, admittedly a minor quibble.

The organization does serve to prove the author's argument: that Jews were featured in every nook and cranny of boxing in London for nearly 200 years. Though the wealth of information is vast and somewhat disjointed, it is eminently accessible, which makes Stars and Scars a great introduction for all readers to Jewish boxing in London. Its focus on breadth rather than depth makes it an appropriate jumping off point to learn more about these legendary Londoners. Experts and those with limited knowledge of the subject can't help but learn a ton while simultaneously being entertained.

Fans of Jewish boxing and of British boxing should have Scars and Stars in their personal libraries. The richness of boxing history within its pages easily outweighs any of its shortcomings. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Cletus Seldin’s Fight Postponed

Cletus Seldin was scheduled to fight Patrick Okine on Thursday at Sony Hall in New York, but the entire show has been postponed after several unfortunate happenings resulted in cancellations that left only three fights on the bill.

Boxing Insider, the promotional company, announced on Instagram that one fighter tested positive for covid, another failed the physical, and another just checked into a hospital. For the past week, Boxing Insider’s IG account has been posting cryptic stories about the difficulties of running a club show in New York these days. High costs from venue fees and medicals and NYSAC’s strict requirements for boxers’ licenses are two challenges.

Boxing Insider said the show will be postponed until October. Seldin said he heard October 5 as the possible date.

For Seldin, it’s another unfortunate postponement, a reality that has become all too common in recent years for the 37 year old junior welterweight.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Flying Hammer: An Interview with Cletus Seldin

Cletus Seldin's fight this Thursday at Sony Hall in  New York, New York likely won't be the toughest challenge he's faced recently. Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs), who is celebrating his 37th birthday today, described to The Jewish Boxing Blog how he spent his 36th birthday.

"Last year, I ran a marathon and jumped out of an airplane all before noon," Cletus, the Hebrew Hammer, said. The sky-diving complex was a mile from his parents' place, so when he and his unsuspecting girlfriend pulled into the parking lot, his girlfriend was shocked to discover that she wasn't in for a celebratory brunch with Ma and Pa Seldin.

Cletus has a fear of heights, but he told himself, "Just do it!" as he leapt out of the plane and hurtled back toward Earth. "It wasn't smart though. We were supposed to fast all morning and after jumping, I was so nauseous."

This year, he's preparing to take on Patrick Okine (21-5-2, 18 KOs) on a card promoted by Boxing Insider. Seldin watches all available video of his opponents. "The last few years, they keep giving me names and then they cancel, so I start watching video a couple weeks before the fight," Seldin told The JBB. "I watch to see his style."

Of Okine, Cletus analyzed, "He's a hell of a puncher. He throws big crazy shots. He throws his combinations and then waits. He's a one round fighter, though. After that first round is over, there's still seven more to go! I can fight the whole time at a consistent pace."

When Seldin enters the ring on Thursday, he'll be sporting Elvis Presley-style chops. His unique styles are often nods to pop cultural references as diverse as Dragon Ball Z and the Ervin Johnson Sr. character on the HBO show Winning Time. Cletus will be wearing his customary purple trunks, the same pair he's worn since his fourth pro fight. He gravitated toward purple because of the color's historical association with royalty.

The fight against Okine comes 23 months after Seldin's last bout. This has been the longest lay-off of his career, but it hasn't been his only one. Cletus admits, "Yes, I do feel ring rust." He notes, "This time is different because I was in the gym every single day. It's not the same as consistent competitive sparring or having the trainer work only with you on an individual basis. But I didn't have to switch up my training this time."

Seldin explains, "I probably have the most unique warmup of any boxer. If somebody was watching me warm up, they'd think I was a professional baseball player." He notes he has been focusing on his flexibility in recent years.

After a mutually amicable split with his former promoter, Seldin says he took this bout to shake off the ring rust. "I'm happy to be back."

This birthday, Seldin's hoping for another great experience. Last year, it was sky-diving. This year, he's looking to make the other guy do the falling.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Review of The Fighter of Auschwitz

The Fighter of Auschwitz: The incredible true story of Leen Sanders who boxed to help others survive
By Erik Brouwer
Cassell, 2023

Leen Sanders of Rotterdam, Netherlands was one of the best European boxers of the late 1920s and for much of the 1930s. He began as a featherweight and climbed through the lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight divisions. Known for his "double defense," Sanders was a short, stocky, and powerful man whose fighting style was- contrary to his stature- that of a technical boxer.

When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Leen's fortunes quickly took a terrible turn because of his Jewish heritage and his activities in the resistance. He and his family were eventually sent to Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazis' camps. Sanders's boxing prowess won him special treatment at the concentration camp. He used his relatively privileged status to help as many people as possible, but he couldn't save his family.

Erik Brouwer's The Fighter of Auschwitz is an incredibly written story. The descriptions and pacing before the war befit a classic novel. The author paints an amazingly vivid picture of the European boxing scene during the '20s and '30s. Because of Brouwer's considerable talent as a writer, the book would've been even better if Sanders's boxing matches had been detailed in depth. His engaging depiction of Leen's fight against Teddy Pietrzykowski for the all-weights championship of Auschwitz is an exception. Considering the situation, it's a remarkably extraordinary recounting.

Appropriately, the tone changes when the story reaches the Holocaust. Compared to many other books about the Shoah, The Fighter of Auschwitz is not quite as soul-crushingly sad. The privileges afforded to Sanders made his internment not as horrific as it could've been, and his selfless heroism while in the camp shows glimpses of human generosity in the face of utter cruelty. Brouwer also wisely pulls punches when it comes to the tragic ends of Leen's loved ones. In those instances, he foregoes unnecessary flourishes and thankfully avoids drawing out their deaths in an emotionally manipulative manner. The inmates' experiences in Auschwitz are detailed but not superfluously so.

A must-read for fans of Jewish boxing and for those learning about the Holocaust, The Fighter of Auschwitz should be read by everyone. In this moment of heightened anti-Semitism, this story has the potential to change minds for the better.

Other resources: The Jewish Boxing Blog's Holocaust Boxing page.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Mor Oknin Wins By Stoppage

Flyweight Mor "The Son of the Lion" Oknin won his third professional fight when his opponent quit after the second round at 3-33 Studio in Mexico City, Mexico tonight. "Ratoncito" Morales was a last-minute replacement.

Oknin- a flyweight from Netanya, Israel- climbed into the tiny ring as rain fell outside in Mexico City. The weigh-in for the event was on Saturday, but because Mor observes Shabbat, he weighed in this morning. Recovering quickly, he started the fight aggressively, but had issues with his timing and rhythm. He controlled center ring and worked behind the jab, gliding towards his opponent, but Morales ducked under Oknin's early power shots. "Ratoncito," however, hardly fired back and Oknin, who the announcer repeatedly called "Ortiz," carried the first round comfortably.

Morales actually threw punches in the second round, but they were merely meant to touch Oknin. They had no menace behind them. Oknin found the right uppercut early in the round. Morales landed a low blow late which sent Oknin to the canvas in obvious pain. After he arose, Mor kept throwing a combination featuring a right uppercut followed by a looping right to the body.

Oknin had won the first two rounds, but looked a little tired heading back to the corner. Perhaps the low blow had taken its toll or maybe the long trip from Israel to Mexico City or the same day weigh-in sapped his stamina. Just then, Ratoncito's corner pulled off his glove and cut his tape. Curiously, Morales had retired in the corner. A combination of taking the fight on short notice and Oknin's body shots may have been the culprit.

Oknin's record is 3-0 with 3 KOs although BoxRec will list his as 2-1 with one KO. It's a long story. Morales was probably a tougher opponent than the man he replaced, Pedro Rabio. Since Morales was such a late replacement, he is an unknown commodity; this article will be updated to include his record when it becomes known.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Josh Feldman May Make Debut in Mid-October

Junior middleweight Joshua Feldman might make his debut in mid-October according to his trainer Colin Nathan. Nathan told SA Boxing Talk, "We're planning on turning Josh pro... in mid-October."

Feldman, a teenager from Cape Town, South Africa, was originally scheduled to fight in June. Then a fight in July was ready to go, but Feldman reportedly suffered a nasty spider bite. He was going to make his debut in August, but the promoter, Boxing 5, had licensing issues. Nathan believes the boxing license for Boxing 5 will be sorted out by mid-October.

"Obviously, he's going to be a very big focus for us turning pro up here [in Johannesburg]," Nathan said of Feldman. "If he builds some momentum, why can't Boxing 5 come down to Cape Town and do a boxing event? We've spoken about it. We're about twelve months away as a company from doing shows in Cape Town."

Feldman is a talented southpaw who passed his boxing license test this past spring.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Mor Oknin to Face Pedro Rabia

Flyweight Mor Oknin is scheduled to face Pedro Rabia on Sunday, September 3 at Studio 3-33 in Mexico City, Mexico. The event is promoted by TT Boxing Promotions.

Oknin's record is up for debate. The Israeli won his first fight by knockout. He says he won his second fight a year and a half ago by TKO. The commission that oversees boxing in Agua Prieta, Mexico told BoxRec that he lost. Oknin says the commission screwed him over and took his money. He shared clips of the referee raising his hand after the fight. The promoter curiously posted video of every other fight that night except for Oknin's. They didn't answer a request from The Jewish Boxing Blog for video of the fight. Oknin also says he's five years younger than BoxRec has him listed.

Pedro Rabia is a 36 year old native of Mexico. He doesn't have the toughest nickname, "El Pillo." It means "Rascal," and thankfully not it's English cognate, "Pillow." His record is not good. He's 0-5 and has been stopped five times. He has gotten out of the first round once. Troublingly, BoxRec lists him as indefinitely suspended by the Comisión de Box y Lucha Libre del Estado de México.

This bout is scheduled for four rounds.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Preview of Seldin-Okine

Junior welterweight Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight Patrick Okine on September 14 at Sony Hall in New York, New York, USA on a card promoted by BoxingInsider. Okine is a worthy opponent, but his style plays into Seldin's strengths.

Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs), who will turn 37 the week of the fight, is a twelve-year pro from Long Island, New York. Nicknamed the "Hebrew Hammer," Seldin is known for his wrecking ball overhand right. Cletus's weakness is that he has been outboxed before. In Seldin's lone loss, Yves Ulysse scored three knockdowns using a hit-and-don't-get hit style in 2017. In Da Hamma's most recent fight, William Silva spent some of the early rounds outboxing him before Cletus adjusted and scored a huge comeback KO in the seventh round of their 2021 fight.

Okine, who has spent half his life as a professional boxer, won't outbox Seldin. The 32 year old from Accra, Ghana is a dangerous come-forward banger. BoxRec lists his record as 20-5-2 with 17 KOs, but his TKO victory against journeyman John Oblitey Commey on December 23, 2020 hasn't been added to the site yet.

Nicknamed "Yaw Mallet," Okine often throws wide powerful punches with either hand. His overhand right is his best punch. He can counter with it, throw it off his jab, or lead with it when facing inexperienced opposition. His jab is usually a decoy, but he does have a nice left hook. As a shorter fighter, he doesn't really throw uppercuts, but he will attack the body. Okine's problem is both he and Seldin will look to land overhand rights, but Seldin is bigger, stronger, has a better chin, and his overhand right will get to the target faster.

Okine is a step below world level as a fighter, but he has world-level power. Though he lost a 2012 fight to future world champion Lee Selby by fifth round TKO, Okine managed to mark up both of Selby's eyes.

In 2018 against Jeremia Nakathila, a world class opponent, Okine landed some punishing overhand rights early. But the taller Nakathila soon took control of the fight by maintaining distance. After Yaw Mallet threw his wide shots, Nakathila effectively countered. The Ghanaian was knocked down in the second and fourth rounds, but referee Leslie Gross called both slips. Gross, however, didn't miss when Nakathila landed a hellacious combination that knocked Okine out of the ring and onto the concrete floor.

Okine doesn't have the best chin, but he has tremendous heart. Marching in a zombie-like state, he dragged himself back into the ring before the referee's count reached twenty. Thankfully, Gross stopped the fight anyway as Okine was in no condition to continue.

The Accra native looked flat in his fight against slick mover Patrick Ayi in 2019 and was lucky to come away with a split draw. After two wins in 2020, Okine received a shot in the third round from Jan Carlos Rivera this past March that was deemed low and their fight in Philadelphia was called a no contest. Upon review, the commission considered the blow legal and somewhat unfairly changed the result to a TKO victory for Rivera well after the fact. Against Rivera, Okine spent too much time covering up and was losing the fight.

Except for those fights against Ayi and Rivera, Yaw Mallet has an exciting style. If he doesn't go into a shell, Da Hamma and Yaw Mallet will bring fireworks.

Cletus's fight will stream live on BoxingInsider.com

Some Notes
Okine has been known to hitch his black and white striped trunks up to grandpa-level. Before the fight, Seldin's trainer should ask for clarification from the ref about the line of legality on Patrick's trunks to avoid another Usyk-Dubois controversy.

Okine likes to taunt opponents in the ring. So far, opponents haven't jumped on him while he's clowning.

Neither Seldin nor Okine lead with their head, but both are come-forward fighters, so headbutts are possible. Okine is shorter, so if there's a butt, his head may crash into Seldin's face.

Seldin is a fitness freak while Okine has faded in fights. This junior welterweight bout is scheduled for eight rounds, but the longer it goes, the more it favors Seldin. Whenever Cletus fights, however, a first round KO is always in play.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Cletus Seldin to Fight on September 14

Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight Patrick Okine on Thursday, September 14 at Sony Hall in New York, New York, USA on a card promoted by BoxingInsider. Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs) will have endured a 23 month layoff when September 14 rolls around.

Seldin has had numerous fights scheduled and fall through for one reason or another since he stopped William Silva at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on October 16, 2021. Opponents have failed physicals while fights against name opponents Reshat Mati and Adrien Broner never materialized. Seldin and his promoter split ways earlier this year.

Okine (20-5-2, 17 KOs) is a 32 year old from Accra, Ghana. He has fought for the Ghanaian featherweight title, the WBO African super featherweight title, the Commonwealth featherweight title, and the NABA USA lightweight title. He lost all of them.

Okine is the naturally smaller man. He has fought only three junior welterweight opponents; all his other foes were lightweights or smaller. BoxRec lists him as 5'5", about two or three inches shorter than Seldin. Okine has faced some name opponent including former world champion Lee Selby, former minor beltholder Jeremia Nakathila, and Emmanuel Tagoe, who once took Ryan Garcia the distance. Okine lost to them all.

This bout is scheduled for eight rounds. A more in depth preview is forthcoming.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

David Kaminsky's Boxer Stabbed During Training

David Kaminsky and his charge, the rapper Blueface, were training at the Kaminsky Gym when a man interrupted the session and an altercation ensued.

Kaminsky (6-0-1) stepped between the man and Blueface in an attempt to calm the situation. According to video, a gloved-up Blueface seems to pop up around Kaminsky and sucker-punch the man. The video cuts out before the alleged stabbing. Paramedics arrived and took a man to the hospital with a stab wound, but they would not confirm the identity of the victim. The alleged assailant has been arrested.

The 22 year old Kaminsky has been training Blueface since 2021. David recently received his boxing manager's license in the state of California. He last fought in 2020. Last October, Kaminsky was scheduled to fight, but the California State Athletic Commission forced him to undergo surgery for a torn ACL before he could fight again in the state.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Mor Oknin Scheduled to Fight on September 3

Flyweight Mor Oknin is scheduled to fight in Mexico City, Mexico on September 3 as part of a TT Boxing Promotions event.

Oknin's record is controversial. There is no question that he won his first fight in 2021 by TKO. He says he won his second fight by TKO as well, and he shared some clips on social media. BoxRec lists that fight as a TKO loss. BoxRec only lists what the commission tells them and acknowledges that fake reports out of Mexico have been a problem for the site. Oknin says the local commission took his money and then screwed him over. He attempted to enlist the help of Juan Luis Castillo to get the result overturned, but as of now, it officially remains a loss.

Oddly, La Terraza Sport Bar, the venue for that second fight, shared all of the fights from that night on its Facebook page except for one: Oknin's fight.

In the meantime, Oknin has fought in several exhibition bouts in Israel since that last disputed pro bout. He has also had a couple of late cancellations. One opponent failed to make weight and last month an opponent pulled out at the last moment.

No opponent has yet been named for Oknin's next fight.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Willie Buff: Amateur Star, Professional Journeyman

Willie Buff was an outstanding amateur boxer who became a journeyman pro and stayed in the sport after retiring from the ring. He died young and now has unfortunately been largely forgotten.

Born in Russia's Pale of Settlement, likely in early 1903, William Buff came from a big family. His father Jacob was born in 1854 and his mother Mariam was three years younger. Both were in their 40s when Willie was born. Mariam had ten children, but sadly only six were alive by 1910. The family immigrated to Rochester, New York somewhere between 1905-1908.

While Willie went to school, his older siblings worked in Jacob's tailor shop. At some point during Willie's adolescence, his parents split up. By 1920, Jacob was a boarder at the Levin family's house. He was still a tailor and had not obtained citizenship. Meanwhile Mariam changed her name to Mary and lived with four of her kids including Willie. Mary was also not a citizen and couldn't read or write English. Seventeen year old Willie was unemployed while his mom and siblings worked as custom tailors in a clothing factory. Jacob listed his marital status as single while Mary claimed she was widowed.

Willie had fought in a few smokers when he took on Young Kauff of Montreal on June 14, 1920 on the undercard of a Kid Norfolk fight. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Buff won the six-rounder by close decision. It's possible this opener was an amateur bout, or it was a pro fight later swept under the rug and forgotten, because Buff went on to have success as an amateur in the coming years.

By March of 1922, Buff became the amateur lightweight champion of Rochester. In October, Buff moved down to featherweight where he was knocked out in the first round by southpaw Willie Singer. Buff had tried to make the 118-pound bantamweight limit, but missed weight. He was allowed to fight in the featherweight division, but gave up too many pounds in the process.

By January 1923, Willie was dubbed the amateur featherweight champion of Western New York. In March, he won the Upper New York amateur featherweight title. In 1924 he won the same titles at lightweight. Beginning in 1924, Willie was often described as the AAU lightweight champion in the papers, but his title was limited to Upper New York. Fred Boylstein (who, despite the name, it seems was not Jewish) won the national amateur lightweight title that year and fought in the Paris Olympics where he captured the bronze medal.

The May 1924 issue of New York Central Lines Magazine (pg. 70) described Buff as a "member of the Olympic Team." This would begin a lifetime of Buff's fabricated association with the 1924 team.

In September of 1924, a Buffalo newspaper ran a headline that Buff would turn pro, but it didn't happen. He continued to find success in the amateur ranks despite suffering the occasional setback. In February of 1925, Buff was knocked unconscious by Tommy Lawson in a scary scene. It took him days to regain consciousness. A couple of days after he woke up, Buff was granted his boxing license in New York (pg. 184), but didn't fight for a while due to the knockout.

On July 2, Willie took part in what seemed like a pro bout. He was stopped at the Arena in Syracuse, New York by Jackie Brady in the fourth round. Buff soon resurfaced in Chicago and still kept his amateur status, fighting several times there. He last fought as an amateur in January of 1926. He aso earned work as a sparring partner for future lightweight world champion Sammy Mandell

He got a scheduled eight-rounder with future two-time welterweight champion Jackie Fields on February 24 at the Wilmington Bowl just outside of Los Angeles. Buff was highly touted in the L.A. papers for notching over 100 amateur wins. The so-called AAU lightweight champ was known for a jab that could do damage from range and for possessing quick hands, but he didn't have a good chin.

Fields had been an actual member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic team and won the gold medal in the featherweight division in Paris. But he had just suffered his first loss, a two-round drubbing at the right hand of Jimmy McLarnin back in November. At seventeen years old, Fields had briefly retired from the ring. Buff was his comeback fight and his first at 135 lbs. The winner of Fields-Buff was said to be in line to challenge Tod Morgan for the world junior lightweight championship, but it proved not to be true.

Fields knocked down Buff in the second round for a nine count and put out Willie's lights in the next round. An L.A. Times article the next day erroneous called him Willie Buck, but many other papers spelled his name correctly, probably to Willie's dismay. A week later, he took on Wildcat Evasco in Fresno in a six-round snooze-fest at the Civic Center. Fields was in attendance to watch Buff have a good second round, but otherwise, look dreadful. He had, of course, been out for the count just the week before.

BoxRec lists Willie Buff of New York with only two fights and Willie Buck of Chicago with two, too. They are the same person and many of his fights are missing from the record. Willie moved back to Chicago where he had several scraps over the next two years. Some of them are:

date unknown, fought Chick Miller of Chicago, result unknown
date unknown, lost to Paul Adducci
July 29 at Buda Club faced Johnny Zale, result unknown
date unknown, lost to Ramon Castillo (via BoxRec)


April 20 at Eagle Auditorium, in Galena, Illinois, fought Tony Rindone
May 10 same venue as above, fought Ben Peitman
July 24, fought Johnny Gregg of Gary, all three '28 results unknown.

For the two fights in Galena, Buff was billed as the "Olympic Champion." Rindone was billed as the "Champion of Little Italy" and Peitman was "Ghetto Star." Jewish heavyweight great Joe Choynski was the referee for the Peitman fight.

During the 1930s, Buff coached boxing on the Southside of Chicago. He married Estelle, a bookkeeper whose parents were from Lithuania. In 1935, the couple had a son named Wayne. Willie became a good golfer and competed at the amateur level, even winning a tournament in 1940. But the Great Depression hit him hard and he had trouble finding steady work. In 1940, he listed his occupation as physical director with a salary of $846, less than average at the time. He claimed he had been born in New York, just in case anyway questioned his citizenship. That same year, his father Jacob died at the age of 85.

Willie got some work as a referee here and there and when he made the papers he was the "Olympic world's champion of 1924." As the years ticked by, his old amateur accomplishments had improved astonishingly.

In 1944, Willie Buff died at the young age of 41. He was buried back in Rochester.

Monday, August 14, 2023

News and Notes

David Alaverdian is targeting a late September or early October date for his next fight. The 8-0-1 flyweight is back in Las Vegas training. He last fought on April 10.

Stefi Cohen (4-1-1) was recently asked who she would most like to fight. She answered that taking on Ring flyweight champion Marlen Esparza down the road would be fun.

Cletus Seldin worked with former foe, Eddie Gomez. Gomez posted a career record of 23-4 and last fought in 2019. Seldin and Gomez battled each other in the New York Golden Gloves over ten years ago.

Mikhael Ostroumov was seen working out in the Nakash Gym in Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago. His career has been set back by a series of injuries and he's currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Ostroumov was able to use both arms effectively, which is good news for a possible return.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Tribute to Buddy McGirt: Hall of Famer Fought Mamby and Jacobs

Buddy McGirt is not only one of the best trainers in boxing, but he was one of the best boxers of his era. The Hall of Famer was a two-division world champion whose career lasted from 1982-1997. During his illustrious career, McGirt fought two memorable bouts against Jewish opponents, both at the Felt Forum. On September 25, 1986, he took on former world champion Saoul Mamby, and on August 27, 1989, he faced Commonwealth champion Gary Jacobs, the WBC's number one contender.

McGirt had just suffered his first loss as a pro in July of '86 to Frankie Warren before facing Mamby two months later. The future chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, Randy Gordon, a dear friend of McGirt's, called Buddy on the phone. McGirt recalled the conversation years later in an interview with Tris Dixon. McGirt remembered, "He said, 'Buddy, why would you take a fight like this?' I said, 'Randy, I'm going to beat him.'"

McGirt later told Ryan Songalia of The Ring, “I said to myself, 'I’m 22 years old, if I lose to a 39-year-old, I’m in the wrong business.'" But Buddy would come to see the Mamby fight as a turning point in his career.

He explained to Dixon, "The fight with him made me a better fighter. I think I needed something like that. To fight someone that would've only given me two or three rounds, I don't think it would've benefitted me in the long run."

In an interview with Anson Wainwright for a series in The Ring called "Best I Faced," McGirt named Mamby as his smartest opponent. "He was very tricky," McGirt remembered. "I hit him with a shot, a good right; I saw his legs buckle, and I’m going in for the kill. I thought I’d be the first one to stop him. When I threw a right hand, he slipped and hit me with a left hook to the liver. I’ve never in my life been hit like that to the liver. When we got into a clinch, he told me to slow my young ass down."

Buddy also respected Mamby's jab, "When Mamby jabbed, he had a sort of half open glove. It was just annoying. He could hit you from different angles because he had so much experience."

To Songalia he declared, "The win over Saoul Mamby turned me around as a fighter. Made me a totally different fighter, made me a better fighter."

McGirt won the ten-rounder by unanimous decision. A year and a half later, he captured his first world title, the IBF junior welterweight belt, by avenging his loss to Warren.
Buddy McGirt vs. Saoul Mamby

By the time Buddy McGirt faced Scotland's Gary Jacobs, he had lost the title to Meldrick Taylor a year earlier and had moved up a weight class to the 147-pound division. Jacobs held the Commonwealth and WBC International welterweight titles and was in line for a world title shot against Mark Breland.

Initially, Jacobs had been scheduled to face journeyman Tyrone Moore in a showcase bout. McGirt was scheduled to fight on September 14 against Gene Hatcher. But when lightweight champion Edwin Rosario hurt his hand training for a defense against Lupe Suarez, a new main event was needed for the August 27, 1989 card at the Felt Forum. Jacobs and McGirt each took the fight on one week's notice.

"It's good for me because I'm getting national exposure on American television," said the 23 year old Jacobs (25-1) at the time. "Buddy McGirt is a big name, but I don't know anything about him." Jacobs's manager Mike Barrett had picked McGirt as the opponent.

In an interview with Tris Dixon, McGirt (43-2-1) remembered, "I just went to training camp that Saturday and my manager called me Saturday night. I came from the movies, and he goes, 'Hey, they got a break in the card next week.' I said, 'Ok, what's up?' He goes, 'There's a kid named Gary Jacobs. I says, 'Yeah, I read about him in the paper today.' The New York Post had just did a story on him that day."

McGirt continued, "I said, 'What about him?' He says, 'Well, they're looking for somebody to fight him.' I says, 'Alright. I tell you what you do, make the contract at 148 and I'll see you in the gym tomorrow.'"

He concluded by telling his trainer Al Certo, "We will spar every day until Friday, and I'll be ready for him next week."

McGirt was asked the next day about getting ready for Jacobs's southpaw style on such short notice. "I'm a fighter," he answered. "I can adjust to anything."

By the day of the fight, Jacobs had learned more about his opponent. "McGirt's a world-class fighter," he said.  "Fighting him will give me more exposure. The fact that it's on national TV is a plus. I have been waiting for a world title fight, and a win over McGirt will help me achieve my goal a lot earlier."

A reporter reminded Gary that no one had fought and won more at the Felt Forum than Buddy McGirt. "His record at the Felt Forum will not be a disadvantage for me," Jacobs retorted. "I'm always fighting away from home. Many of my bouts have been in England. The British and Europeans know who Gary Jacobs is. Now the Americans will find out."
Gary Jacobs vs. Buddy McGirt

McGirt, who held a two-pound weight advantage, won a unanimous decision after bloodying Jacobs's nose in the fourth round.  "I think I'm best at 147," McGirt said per Wallace Matthews's reporting. "You can't look good against everybody you fight. If I fought at 140 today, I would have been a loser."

"I tried my best, but Buddy McGirt was just quicker off the mark today," said Jacobs, according to reporting by Bernard Fernandez. "I have no qualms about losing. I didn't disgrace myself."

Matthews reported Jacobs saying, "I have no qualms about taking the fight. I didn't disgrace myself. I consider myself a world-class fighter, and these are the fighters you have to fight. He was just a wee bit quicker than me."

"Buddy made the fight a little tougher than it should have been," McGirt's trainer Al Certo told Matthews. "When he boxed on the outside, he was all right, but when he stayed in close, he let Jacobs into the fight. That's where Jacobs is strong."

McGirt took the eighth round off. "I had to take a little breather," he said. "This guy was very rough and awkward."

"After the eighth round, I told Buddy to box on the outside," Certo said to Fernandez. ''When he stood in close, Jacobs made a fight of it. I said, 'Buddy, you're stronger on the outside, so just stay there.'"

According to Arlene Shulman, McGirt said of Jacobs, "He was moving his head a lot. He was very awkward."  McGirt explained, "Jacobs is a tough kid. I'm not surprised that he stayed on his feet. He was awkward, but considering I took the fight on such short notice, I did all right.''

"I tip my hat to Gary Jacobs," Certo added. "I understand he was in line for a shot at Breland, but he risked his rating to take a fight with the toughest welterweight in the division."

The trainer continued, "Our goal is a title fight. Buddy helped himself with this win. We're ready.''

"Mike Barrett could have picked anybody, but he picked Buddy McGirt," Jacobs lamented a couple of years later. "He was a brave manager, but I was glad to take it."

Jacobs declared, "The McGirt decision was little more than a minor setback on the road to my ultimate aim - the world title. I'll go back to New York for a rematch, which I'll win, and within two years the crown will be mine. I'm not scared of any of the three champions - Mark Breland (WBA), Marlon Starling (WBC) or Simon Brown (IBF)."

There would be no rematch. And McGirt got the first crack at a welterweight title. On November 29, 1991, McGirt lifted the IBF title from Simon Brown. He held it for a year and a half when Pernell Whitaker took the title in a close fight.

Jacobs could've had an easier path to a world title, but he refused to challenge for the WBO's version of the championship. At the time, the WBO was an upstart organization, not yet seen as a major sanctioning body. So Jacobs won the British and European welterweight titles on his way to challenging Whitaker for the crown in 1995. Jacobs gave a better-than-expected showing against the pound-for-pound king, but came up short in his lone world title bid.

Both Mamby and Jacobs made quite an impression on two-division world champion, Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt.

"Arena" Newsday. Aug. 22, 1989.
Ben-Tal, Danny. "The Goldsmith from Glasgow Rekinkles Forgotten memories." Jerusalem Post. Sep. 20, 1989.
Dixon, Tris. "#24 Buddy McGirt." Boxing Life Stories podcast. Feb. 24, 2021.
Fernandez, Bernard. "McGirt Provides Felt Forum with Perfect Send-Off." Philadelphia Daily News. Aug. 28, 1989.
Matthews, Wallace. "McGirt Wins After `Breather' Easily beats Jacobs after sluggish showing in 8th round." Newsday. Aug, 28, 1989.
"McGirt wins decision over Jacobs in substitute bout." Houston Chronicle. Aug. 28, 1989.
Shulman, Arlene. "McGrirt Outpoints Jacobs as Forum Shuts for Two Years." New York Times. Aug. 28, 1989.
Songalia, Ryan. "The Biddy McGirt Chronicles." The Ring.
The Associated Press. Scot Welcomes Chance at McGirt." Newsday. Aug. 27, 1989.
Wainwright, Anson. "Best I Faced: Buddy McGirt" The Ring.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Isaac Chilemba to Face Obinna Mathew

It has been a long road home for Isaac Chilemba. He is scheduled to face Obinna "Wise Man" Mathew on September 30 at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, Malawi.

After Isaac's mother died, he moved from Malawi to South Africa to pursue a professional boxing career and support his younger siblings. Boxing has since taken Chilemba all around the world. In addition to South Africa, he has fought in the U.S., U.K., Russia, Poland, Greece, Australia, and Canada. Primarily under the guidance of trainer/manager Jodi Solomon, Chilemba (27-9-3, 11 KOs) has faced some of the best super middleweights and light heavyweights of his generation. But September 2 will be the first time the 35 year old has fought in his home country.

It's been a long road for Chilemba out of the ring as well. He battled alcoholism, depression, and has attempted suicide. Chilemba has also described a kind of fear of success, explaining that he has acted in self-sabotaging ways before some of his biggest fights. This homecoming will be the culmination of a long and difficult journey.

Obinna Mathew is a 35 year old old police officer from Lagos, Nigeria. "Wise Man" wears the Nigerian police force colors of blue, green, and yellow on his trunks and when he fights at home, fellow police officers accompany him to the ring waving the police force's flag.

BoxRec lists his record as 21-0 with 21 KOs, but The JBB found two more unlisted fights, which both ended in "Wise Man" KO victories. In 2019, Babatunde Akim didn't come out for the third round, and in 2021 Mathew stopped Sunday Ajayi in the second. None of Obinna's opponents have been anywhere near world class, but most have shown they know how to box. He has fought a number of inexperienced foes and even the veterans have been on losing streaks when Mathew faced them.

Typically, Mathew's opponents have not gone out on their shield. They follow the Bruce "Mouse" Strauss playbook: after a couple rounds, they run out of gas and look for a soft spot on the canvas. Five of the Nigerian's opponents have gone gentle into that good night, retiring after two or three rounds. Many have decided Obinna is too imposing, and they quickly look for a way out early rather than get hurt.

Mathew has skill and composure in the ring. A very tall southpaw, he keeps his distance well behind a good jab. His straight left knocked Olufemi Akintayo down hard for a one-punch KO in 2021. Mathew has a good right hook, too. A series of them stopped Gbenga Sampson a year ago. Being so tall, Obinna has a left bolo punch in his arsenal and he knocked down Julius Obi in the first round of their 2021 fight. He lands check hooks and uppercuts as well.

Mathew keeps his hands high and has a pull-back counter in which he counters back with the jab. He also takes a subtle half-step back but maintains balance so he's ready to punch when the opponent lunges forward. His chin has yet to be tested because he hasn't been hit much in his 70 rounds of pro boxing. The Nigerian has also fought a few rounds as a righty. He's smooth from the orthodox stance and awkward as a southpaw. He mostly fights southpaw, because almost everyone wants to fight a smooth righty rather than an awkward southpaw.

The police officer is open for counters, however. Because he's so tall, he drops his hand before launching the straight left. He doesn't bring his jab back high. Mathew also doesn't keep his form consistently, so a skilled counter-puncher like Chilemba should find openings.

Despite Mathew's record, this is a huge step up for him. Even if Chilemba isn't quite the fighter he was five or ten years ago, he's more skilled and has more experience at the top level. This likely won't be a walkover, but Chilemba should be able to outbox the Nigerian for a successful homecoming.

This bout is scheduled for twelve rounds and is for a minor sanctioning body's world title belt.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Top 5 Jewish French Boxers

David Ben Ephraim's Top 5 Jewish French Boxers

David Ben Ephraim runs the Boxing Club Rosh Haayin in Rosh Ha'Ayin, Israel and has worked as a boxing commentator. A former amateur boxer, Ben Ephraim served as a trainer at the Blagnac Boxing Club in Toulouse, France for nearly twenty years. The renowned club was home to many champions including junior featherweight world champion Mahyar Monshipour and European middleweight champion Pierre Joly, just to name a couple. David has also brought up decorated amateur and current pro prospect Odelia Ben Ephraim.

In addition to providing this terrific list, Ben Ephraim wanted to acknowledge several Jewish French trainers: Patrick Bahamed-Athlan, Franck Attia, Thierry Chiche, and the legendary Roger Bensaïd.

1. Alphonse Halimi
2. Fabrice Benichou
3. Robert Cohen
4. Maurice Holtzer
5. Stephane Haccoun

Monday, July 24, 2023

The "Yiddisher Cowboy," Frankie Fink

Frankie Fink traveled the U.S., fighting monthly throughout the 1920s. He made the rounds from climber to contender to well-respected journeyman. Fink represented the archetypical 1920s boxer.

Frank Fred Fink was born on July 23, 1903, the eighth of nine children, to Meyer and Sophie. Both were in their 40s when they had Frankie. Throughout his career, Dallas was considered Fink's hometown, but according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses, he was from Brenham, a Texas town of about 5,000 people at the time of his birth and situated halfway between Houston and Austin. Brenham had a relatively sizable Jewish population in those days.

Fink became a pro in 1921 and spent the first three years of his career mostly fighting around Texas. He also had a few fights in Louisiana and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. On November 29, 1924, Frankie Fink did the unthinkable; he won the Mexican featherweight title when Joe Medina was disqualified in the seventh round of their fight in Mexico City. It was unthinkable simply because Fink wasn't Mexican and the title hadn't existed before the fight.

Fink held the Mexican featherweight title for nearly five years without a single defense. The first time he returned to Mexico after winning the title, Fink lost the belt on the scales because he hadn't made the featherweight limit in four years.

When professional boxing was essentially legalized in California back in 1925, Fink plied his trade on the West Coast. He came to New York beginning in 1926 and spent most of the next two years in the area. There he picked up the name "Yiddisher Cowboy" playing on his roots as a Jewish Texan. Fink fought in Madison Square Garden four times. He took on some of the best fighters of his era but couldn't quite get past any of them.

Fink never really had a style, and that might have prevented him from going further in his career. Future two-time welterweight world champion Jackie Fields outboxed him twice. Former featherweight world champion Kid Kaplan pressured him relentlessly in winning by eighth round TKO. Future featherweight world champion Andre Routis scored a ten-round points win against him. Future junior welterweight champion Mushy Callahan once knocked Fink out cold in sparring.

Fink also fell short against numerous contenders, including Joe Glick, Al Foreman, Billy Petroelle, Honeyboy Finnegan, and Eddie Mack. But he could beat good opponents who were just a level below those champions and top contenders, including Jose Lombardo and Tommy Herman.

On April 6, 1927, it was announced Fink was among eight boxers suspended by the New York Athletic Commission for fighting above their weight. The suspension didn't last long and the "Cowboy" continued to fight virtually every month until February of 1929. He had two fights in Mexico City later that year and wouldn't fight again until 1931. After Mack KOed him in 1932, Fink's last three fights were all in Dallas, two in 1935 and one in 1942.

If newspaper decisions are included, Fink ended his boxing career with a record of 51-30-17 (15 KOs) according to BoxRec. He was rated as high as the #13 junior lightweight in The Ring magazine's annual ratings for both 1926 and 1927.

It appears Fink didn't marry or have any children. He died on April 29, 1979 at the age of 75. His tombstone reads, "Beloved Brother." It probably should say, "Darn good fighter" too.


"Callahan Scores Knockout Over Sparring Partner." LA Times. Feb. 11, 1926. Pg. B2.
Dawson, James. P. "Terris Outpoints Wallace in the Garden." NY Times. Mar. 19, 1927. Pg. 13.
"Fields Victor in New York." LA Times. Jul. 5, 1927. Pg. B4.
Find a Grave
"Lombardo Defeated by Fink at Dexter." NY Times. Aug. 24, 1926. Pg. 14.
"Sarmiento Decisively Whips Georgie Marks." LA Times. Sep. 24, 1925. Pg. B1.
"Suspend 8 Boxers for Weight Ruling." NY Times. Apr. 6, 1927. Pg. 30.
U.S. Census, 1910 & 1920.
"Wills Loses Bout In Mexico City." The Atlanta Constitution. Sep. 16, 1929. Pg. 15.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Focused for Battle: What Boxers Think during the Referee's Instructions

The fighters stride towards each other for the final time before the opening bell. The anticipation in the crowd becomes palpable. The long-awaited fight is moments away. The referee reminds the combatants to listen to the official's commands and to protect themselves at all times, and perhaps bellows a catchphrase afterwards. But the boxers ignore any cry of "Let's get it on," "What I say you must obey," or "I'm fair but I'm firm."

Rare is the boxer that disagrees with ex-fighter Tony Milch, who says, "I am hearing the referee but not really listening." Unless, that is, they side with another former fighter Dustin Fleischer (6-0), who admits, "I really didn't even hear the referee. I was just thinking about destroying my opponent."

With all eyes on the two fighters staring at each other in center ring for one last time before the first round, the boxers typically turn inward.

Active fighter Cletus Seldin (26-1) says, "I'm just telling myself how hard I worked and to stick to the game plan." He tells himself, "No matter what, don't stop. When the bell rings, be relentless."

Former world champion Yuri Foreman (35-4) tells himself, "This is it!" The ordained rabbi says a little prayer. He takes the four or five steps back to his corner and reminds himself, "Just be myself."

As with Seldin and Foreman, recently retired puncher Shawn Sarembock (8-0-1) acknowledges this is the culmination of all his hard work. He is thinking, "Let's go! It's go time! Or any derivative of that. Time to put up. Time to switch on."

"We're all flooded with thoughts throughout the day," explains Nancy Harazduk, the Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Program at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. "These boxers are controlling their thoughts in a positive way. They aren't allowing their thoughts to control them."

Of the moments when the referee is giving the final instructions, undefeated pro David Alaverdian
(8-0-1) explains, "My mind is blank." Milch (14-2) describes something similar, "My mind is clear. I'm looking at the opponent, preparing myself mentally to be clear and focused for battle and all the training that has gone into it."

Retired fighter Merhav Mohar (16-2) says, "Being present, without any distracting thoughts is a true measure of professionalism, and takes a lot of practice."

Harazduk says these fighters- by having a clear mind and being present- are in an alpha state. "An alpha state is when your brain waves slow down. Your thoughts recede to the background, and you're not aware of any incoming thoughts. These boxers are 'in the zone' so to speak."

Prospect Odelia Ben Ephraim (4-2) gives a play-by-play of how she enters an alpha state, "The last moments before a fight, I think about what my coach told me during the warm-up. I focus on his words and I feel very calm and focused. I repeat the words in my head again and again.

"When I enter the ring I don't actually have concrete thoughts," she says. "I'm very focused, and I concentrate on my breathing. I think about all the stress and pressure that goes down during the last hours before a fight, until the last moment. When the referee gives instructions, there's just a big calm in my head, the calm before the storm!"

For Dmitriy Salita (35-2), a retired boxer who is now a successful promoter, what he was thinking depended on his physical condition. "Ideally, you're thinking about the next five seconds. You recognize voices from the gym you're accustomed to. You tell yourself, 'Time to take care of business.'" Salita says.

But when he over-trained, Salita admits, "My mind runs. I think, 'Many people are watching me. Did this guy get a seat?'" Those same thoughts also make Salita a good promoter.

Ultimately, when the referee gives the final instructions, it's a chance for the fighters to control their thoughts and enter into the zone. It marks the line that divides the pre-fight activities from battle.

Part of standing in center ring just before the fight involves the final stare-down. The boxers interviewed had very different interpretations of the importance of the practice. Although at times it seemed as if they were directly responding to one another, the boxers interviewed were not told what others had said.

Yuri Foreman says he doesn't try to stare down an opponent. He has blurred vision while looking at his opponent and just stays in his own head.

Odelia Ben Ephraim explains, "I always make eye contact with my opponent, and I focus on not looking down, the eye of the tiger!" She feels it's important to look the opponent in the eye out of respect and to honor tradition. "It's like looking in a mirror. My opponent and I had the same preparation, the same struggles getting ready for this fight- more or less of course. But it takes the same courage to step up into the ring for both of us, and for me, looking into her eyes is a sign of respect. It's also an old boxing tradition, and it's the moment when the fight starts for real."

Merhav Mohar always aimed to intimidate his opponents. He contends, "From my experience, those last moments before the fight in center ring, I would stare down my opponent as hard as possible, and if he would break eye contact to look at the referee or his instructions, I would take that as a sign of my victory. I know what’s a low blow and to obey the referee, so there was no need to focus on him or what he says. I would look for any weakness or doubt my opponent would show."

David Alaverdian, who was interviewed many months before Mohar, vehemently disagrees. Alaverdian stares at his opponent, but he's not consciously trying to look him in the eye. He's not trying to intimidate his opponent. He argues "I don't believe in that. Some people think if the other guy looks down, you broke him. That's bullshit."

Shawn Sarembock feels attempting to intimidate the opponent is important. Sarembock also uses the stare-down for strategic purposes. "I give them a once-over to see where the cup is, so I know where I can work the body, " he says. "I also check to see if the opponent's body is soft."

Dmitriy Salita and Cletus Seldin had the exact same reason to reach the exact opposite conclusion.  Salita says, "People judged me and felt I was an easy fight based on the way I looked. I did try to stare down my opponent. The stare-down is important."

Conversely, Seldin explains, "I never once thought 'Let's win the fight off intimidation.' I always pictured them thinking, 'There's no way I'm losing to a white Jewish kid from Long Island,' so to me it never felt worth trying."

There's no right or wrong answer. Whether there's any value in trying to intimidate the opponent is simply a matter of opinion. Ultimately, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If fighters believe the stare-down is unimportant, it won't matter to them. For fighters who give the stare-down significance, it can serve as an extra source of confidence, assuming the interaction goes the fighter's way. Regardless, there is no one way to become focused for battle.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Feldman Off Tomorrow's Card

Southpaw junior middleweight Josh Feldman had been scheduled to fight his debut against Potego Ntsoane tomorrow at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa, but he is now off that card.

SA Boxing Talk told The Jewish Boxing Blog that Feldman had suffered a nasty spider bite, which can be very dangerous as South Africa is home to some of the most venomous spiders on the planet.

Feldman has been rescheduled to fight in August.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Midyear Recap

It has been a great few months for Jewish Boxing and The Jewish Boxing Blog!

The Fights
There have been quite a few Jewish boxers in action so far. Three- Sagiv Ismailov, Igor Lazarev, and Alex Karchevski- were in action in Ashdod, Israel back in February. Ismailov took his second win of the year two months later in Estonia.

Undefeated flyweight David Alaverdian showed an ability to adjust on the fly in an April bout in Las Vegas.

Shawn Sarembock earned a draw in a February firefight in Tijuana.

Stefi Cohen and Odelia Ben Ephraim have both fought twice this year. Cohen won in February and again in June. Ben Ephraim is 1-1 this year with an impressive win in March.

Former world champion Carolina Duer fought to a disputed split decision loss in April.

After Stefi Cohen's fight was canceled in January, The Jewish Boxing Blog found out what happened from the California State Athletic Commission.

Shawn Sarembock faced numerous behind-the-scenes difficulties in the run-up to his February fight. He explain what happened to The JBB. He later stepped away from the sport in June.

David Alaverdian opened up to The JBB about his win in April.

Kenny "Bang Bang" Bogner passed away in February.

A profile of tough British flyweight Alf Mansfield was published in May.

A profile of Israeli amateur boxer Ovadia Hochman, who later moved to the U.S. and changed his name to Eddie Hoffman, was published in June.

Several amazing guest contributors added to the Top 5s series.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Joshua Feldman to Debut in July

Southpaw junior middleweight Joshua Feldman is scheduled to make his professional debut on July 15 against fellow debutant, Potego Ntsoane. The bout will be on the undercard of a Deejay Kriel fight at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Feldman, a teenager, is trained by Colin Nathan, a well-respected Jewish coach and manager. Both Feldman and Nathan are from South Africa. Joshua had a fight scheduled for June 10, but it was cancelled.

Ntsoane is also from South Africa. He was scheduled to fight Obakeng Masithi on May 27, but that fight was cancelled. Both men are anxious to get their pro careers started after the disappointing cancellations.

For more on Feldman, click here.

Joshua Feldman (far right)

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Cletus Seldin-Adrien Broner Won't Happen

Cletus Seldin and Adrien Broner were looking at a late summer clash against one another. Both sides had signed a contract, but the fight has now been called off. There were negotiations about two years ago for a Seldin-Broner bout, but obviously nothing materialized. It's a fight Seldin publicly said he wanted, but for the second time he comes away disappointed.

Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs), who separated from his longtime promoter Joe DeGuardia earlier this year, last fought in October of 2021. The 36 year old had hoped to get a big fight soon to put him right back into title contention.

Broner (35-4-1, 24 KOs) is a 33 year old former four-division world champion. Issues outside the ring have sent his career into a tailspin. A win over lightly-regarded Bill Hutchinson earlier this month was Broner's first fight in 28 months and only his second since a January 2019 loss to Manny Pacquiao.

This week, Broner went on a podcast while intoxicated, and it predictably turned into a disaster. His appearance on the podcast was one of the most talked about boxing stories over the past couple of days with many believing the interview signified rock-bottom for Broner. Many are questioning his team for allowing him to do an interview in that state.

It might be a blessing in disguise for Cletus. Broner is now promoted by 91 year old Don King. In the past King struck a menacing figure and garnered a reputation for cheating fighters. These days the nonagenarian isn't taken as seriously. He's now known for popping up here and there and staging bizarre shows. Broner also may not be in the right fame of mind to fight so soon, so it's better for Cletus to find out now rather than after weeks of training and cutting weight.

Hopefully, Seldin can land another fight quickly. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Kapuler Out of European Games

The International Boxing Association (IBA, formerly AIBA) was deemed to be so corrupt by the International Olympic Committee that it was barred from running the boxing tournament at the Olympics. The European Games have proven to be no better. As a result of some bizarre scoring, junior middleweight Miroslav Kapuler is out of the tournament.

Kapuler faced a fellow southpaw, Vakhid Abbasov of Serbia. Kapuler usually boxes, but he was the aggressor against Abbasov. Miroslav landed a hard overhand left early in the contest that wobbled Abbasov. The 26 year old Israeli had Abbasov off balance several times during the opening round.

Only one of the five judges gave Miroslav the first round. It's important not to make unfounded allegations, but it sure seemed as if Abbasov then knew the fix was in, because he ran the next two rounds. As long as he stood upright, he knew he was going to win. In the second, Abbasov tried to pot-shot from the outside with his hands down. It was a slow round, but Kapuler got the better of the few exchanges.

Tactics and infractions are supposed to be part of the scoring criteria in amateur boxing. Abbasov's tactics in the final round were to run and when Kapuler caught him, foul. Incredibly, all five judges gave both the second and the third rounds to Abbasov. Kapuler was composed after seeing the scores following each round, but it was hard to miss an undercurrent of frustration bubbling under the surface the rest of the way.

If there was a round to give Abbasov, it was the first, but Kapuler deserved to win the fight. Instead, three judges scored the bout 30-27, one had it 29-28, and another 30-26 all for Abbasov. One of the judges was from Algeria, which doesn't even recognize the state of Israel. Frankly, he should not have been allowed to judge the contest. In fact, an Algerian boxer even refused to compete against Kapuler during March's IBA World Championships because of politics. But the Algerian judge didn't even turn in the worst card. Mohamed Thowfeek Safrask of Sri Lanka somehow called the third round a 10-8 for Abbasov. He should not be allowed to judge boxing anymore.

Kapuler has a style suited for the amateur ranks, but the judges screw him regularly. A slick boxer, he showed some dog in him during this bout. He's 3-0 as a pro and can make a nice career as a prizefighter if he can find a good situation.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Alaverdian Out of European Games

David Alaverdian lost by split decision to Attila Bernath of Hungary at the European Games in Krakow, Poland today. The close, competitive bout was marred by some curious judging.

Two days before his 30th birthday, Alaverdian (8-0-1 as a pro) was not given a fair shake against the 23 year old Bernath. Both guys switched stances as Alaverdian fought the first round at range. Bernath proved to be a good clever fighter who landed a number of sneaky shots on the inside in the first round. Four of the five judges scored the swing round for the Hungarian.

Bernath started the second round touching Alaverdian as the Israeli came forward. David finished the round connecting with big shots to the head. He also landed some hard left hooks to the body in the round. If this had been a pro fight, Alaverdian would've won the round on the judges' cards because he landed all of the harder blows. But Bernath won the round on each of the five judges' cards because he landed more clean punches, even though they were far less damaging.

Both competitors knew the score heading into the third, so Alaverdian stalked and fired away while Bernath literally ran to the far side of the ring on a couple of occasions. Bernath landed a few shots early, but Alaverdian managed to catch the Hungarian and repeatedly whack him with huge punches. Bernath was beaten up pretty badly in that last round.

Two judges gave the fight to Bernath 29-28 while one gave it to Alaverdian by the same score. The two other judges failed at their job. Maximo Abalos of the Philippines scored the third round for Bernath and gave the Hungarian the fight 30-27, which is an inconceivable score. He wasn't the worst offender, though.

Nagy Ismail Hamed Osman of Egypt should not only never judge another boxing match, he shouldn't even judge the prettiest Pomeranian at the Westminster Kennel Club. He turned in the worst scorecard in the history of The Jewish Boxing Blog's coverage, scoring the bout 30-25(!) for Bernath giving two(!) 10-8 rounds to the Hungarian. No other judge even had one round 10-8. After incomprehensibly calling the first two rounds 10-8, he somehow saw fit to give Bernath the third. Even if you had it 29-28 for Bernath, Osman was four points off in a three round fight! People this incompetent need to be thrown out of all levels of boxing.

Note: Israeli amateurs Daniel Ilyushonok and Yan Zan both advanced the round of 16. Twenty year old light heavyweight southpaw Ilyushonok punctuated an ugly fight with a beautiful right uppercut to score a third round KO over Altin Shala of Kosovo. In a big upset, Zak, a 23 year old heavyweight, beat Loren Alfonso Dominguez of Azerbaijan by spilt decision, 4-1. Alfonso Dominguez, a gold medalist at the '21 World Championships and bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, was deducted two points in the second round for infractions, which ultimately cost him the bout. Ilyushonok and Zak fight on Monday in separate matches.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Kapuler Advances in European Games

Miroslav Kapuler Ishchenko advanced to the round of 32 in the junior middleweight division at the European Games in Krakow, Poland. The European Games are a qualifying tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics. In many cases, reaching the semifinals is good enough to qualify.

Kapuler, a 26 year old who is 3-0 as a pro, won by unanimous decision against Milos Bartl of the Czech Republic. Bartl, a native of Prague, is two years older and 2-0 as a pro. Both are southpaw boxers who use in-an-out styles, but Kapuler was more effective.

Miroslav was clever and elusive the entire bout. His timing was better partly because Bartl bounced, a bad habit because the Czech fighter had to set his feet to throw a punch. Kapuler used good upper-body movement and punched off angles. Bartl was more one-dimensional, coming straight in-and-out. Kapuler's timing forced Bartle to be the aggressor, and Kapuler took advantage with sneaky counters.

Three judges called it a shutout, 30-27, while two others scored it 29-27, all for Kapuler. He faces Vakhid Abbasov of Serbia on Sunday. A fellow southpaw, Abbasov is 6-0 as a pro and won gold at last year's European Amateur Championships in the welterweight division.

Note: Fellow Israeli Ahmad Shwiti (8-0 as a pro), who isn't Jewish, lost to Narek Hovhannisyan of Armenia 3-2. Junior welterweight Shtiwi boxed well, but Hovhannisyan's volume carried the day.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Journey of Ovadia Hochman

A courageous man, Ovadia Hochman possessed an independent streak. As an amateur boxer in prepubescent Israel during the 1950s and early 1960s, he blended unmistakable talent with the occasional lapse in judgement. Hochman later reinvented himself, assuming a new name and new disposition in a new land.


Reuven Hochman and his wife Chava lived in David-Horodok, a shtetl located in Poland during the interwar period but now part of Belarus. Reuven was a teacher at Tarbus, a well-regarded school in town. Reuven and Chava, both from big families, would eventually have a total of ten children of their own. Tragically, they lost three of them while in David-Horodok.

In 1935, Reuven and Chava made a fateful decision. They moved their family to British Palestine and settled in the Tel Aviv area. Fortunately, several of their siblings had also emigrated by then, but at least two of Chava's brothers did not. In 1941, many of the Jews of David-Horodok were murdered by the Nazis. The rest were rounded up and confined to the town's ghetto. By the following year, virtually all of them had been killed. Ovadia's uncles, Chaim Iche and Aharon, were among the victims.

Ovadia, the youngest of Reuven and Chava's children and nicknamed Oved, was born in 1938. He was no more than four years old when the Nazis murdered his uncles. He was ten when Israel gained independence and immediately had to fight for its survival.


Ovadia Hochman was first mentioned in the Hebrew press for his boxing prowess in 1955, just seven years after Israel's birth. He was a member of the Hapoel club in Tel Aviv, and won numerous local amateur bouts.

On May 21, 1957, Hochman took part in a dual between boxers from London and those from Tel Aviv in London, England. Likely his first international tournament, he was serving in the Israeli army at the time, which must have hindered his boxing training. Hochman's opponent in the dual was Ken Hawkins, one of the best amateur bantamweights in London. Hawkins won the North West London title in 1955 and '56. He reached the semifinals of the London tournament three years in a row, finishing as the runner-up a month before the battle against the Tel Aviv team.

London won the team contest 12-8, not a bad showing for the upstart Israelis who didn't have the same level of experience or training equipment as the Brits. Hochman lost his three-rounder by decision, but it made him a better fighter in the long run. He didn't fight when the Israeli team traveled up north to Manchester two weeks later, however. In 1959, he made the final of the Israeli national amateur championships, coming up short against Yacov Hayt, a talented fighter from Rishon Le-Zion.

In April 1960, Ovadia traveled with a group of Israeli boxers to Adolph Hitler's home country, Austria. Representing the lone Jewish country in the shadow of the Holocaust, he must have experienced indescribable emotions while fighting in two tournaments there.

That same year, a team from Iran traveled to Jaffa, Israel to box in two meets. Hochman took part as 7,000 fans looked on. The Iranians won the first team competition 10-6. A few days later, the Israeli captured revenge with a 9-3 win.

Hochman's career came to an abrupt halt after two incidents. In addition to boxing, Hochman was also a basketball player. He played for Maccabi Tzafon, a now defunct team in the Israeli Basketball League, as it was known at the time. He combined the two sports when he got into a heated argument with a basketball referee in July of 1960. Tensions boiled over, and the referee was no match for the experienced fighter. Hochman knocked him out cold.

The following January, Hochman skipped a boxing tournament in Jaffa without cause. The Hapoel club suspended him as a result. His name left the papers; his career in sports seemingly ended. He found work as a tax clerk.


At some point in the 1960s, Hochman immigrated to the United States. He settled in Detroit, which still has a large community from David-Horodok, his parents' hometown. It's possible he settled in Detroit because he had family there. While in Detroit, he Americanized his named to Edward Hoffman and went by the nickname Eddie.

Hoffman never married and had no children, but he made good in America and owned a big textile business. Sadly, some of his cousins back in Israel weren't so fortunate. It must have been devastating for Eddie to learn that some had been killed in Israel's wars.

A close relative of his who wishes to remain anonymous was shocked to learn of Hoffman's run in with the basketball referee and his suspension from the boxing club. The relative described Hoffman as a fascinating, gentle, and well-mannered man and contended he was not impulsive at all. Eddie was loved by all his family, the relative said. Hoffman even coached young boxers and acted as a mentor to the aspiring fighters. One of the relative's fond memories involves hiking with Hoffman and winding up in Canada.

Clearly, Hoffman had grown as a person during his life. Perhaps the stability of owning a big business and living in the U.S. calmed him. Or maybe the wisdom that comes with the passing of years helped to cool the hot-temper of his youth. In any event, his journey should be remembered.

Eddie Hoffman, née Ovadia Hoffman, died in 1999 at the age of 60.

A note on sources:
A special thank you to Janna Zamir, a distant relative of Ovadia. She first brought him to my attention and provided all the non-boxing related information for this article.

Another special thank you to Evgheni Boico, who provided all of the boxing-relative information.

Several articles from The Jewish Chronicle added context and some specifics to Hochman's trip to London.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Review of Baseball, Nazis & Nedick's Hot Dogs

Baseball, Nazis & Nedick's Hot Dogs: Growing up Jewish in the 1930s in Newark
By Jerry Izenberg
The Sager Group, 2023.

Baseball, Nazis & Nedick's Hot Dogs is a memoir that covers the early life of legendary sports writer Jerry Izenberg from a graphic depiction of his bris until he leaves his family to join the military during the Korean War. The portion in between shows what it was like growing up in Newark during the Great Depression and World War II.

Jerry was a preconscious kid who sometimes caused mischief. His mother was a tough strict woman. Jerry connected with his father, a former minor league baseball player who often imparted wisdom, through their love of the Newark Bears and the New York Giants. As he reached adolescence, Jerry hustled to make money and took a sophomoric interest in girls' anatomy.

It's a very Jewish memoir. That aspect of Izenberg's identity defined him. A key underlying message of the book is that there isn't one way to be a Jew. A person who battles anti-Semitism on the ballfield is a Jew just as much as a famous rabbi overseeing a bar mitzvah. As Jews, we're all part of the same family regardless of our level of observance or our political ideology.

Though baseball is the most important sport in young Jerry's life, references to boxing make their way into the book. Jerry even tries his hand at boxing for a brief period. He shows heart, but let's just say Jerry Izenberg won't be profiled in The Jewish Boxing Blog for his pugilistic merits. George Kornfeld, who Izenberg describes as a middleweight, trains Jerry so he won't get beat up at school. Izenberg also mentions a bit of wisdom from the legendary train Ray Arcel, "Hard times make monkeys eat hot peppers."

In military school, Jerry played the clarinet and then the baritone horn in a band. In addition to his clever analogies, his musical timing contributes to his mastery as a writer. He notes, "The idea of rhythm, pace, and the joy of improvisation was the music I came to respect back then, and the concept stays with me today. I find those ingredients easily translate from one art form to another. Today, they are my silent partner in everything I write as a columnist and as an author (pg. 46)."

Baseball, Nazis & Nedick's Hot Dogs is a fascinating look into the formative years of a legendary Jewish sports writer.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Remembering Jack 'Kid' Berg

The 150th episode of Sports History with Will O'Toole on PKRG-TV is about Jack 'Kid' Berg. Berg's cousin, composer Dr. Howard Fredrics, does an excellent job recounting the life and career of the "Whitechapel Windmill."

Berg's poor beginnings contributed to his early entry into professional boxing. He quickly rose through the ranks, fighting at Premierland in London. He became a sensation in the U.S. as American fans were instantly attracted to his whirlwind style. Fredrics notes Berg's relationship with Kid Chocolate, his battles with Tony Canzoneri, and his second act in the ring in obtaining the British lightweight title against Harry Mizler.

Host O'Toole admits early on that he knows nothing about boxing. He fixates on Berg's knockouts of lesser opposition. But Fredrics gives a backstage pass to Berg's life as a ladies' man and partier. In many ways, he provides the cliff notes to the book Jack Kid Berg: The Whitechapel Windmill by Berg and John Harding. At the end of the show, Fredrics discusses his 2005 opera about Berg called The Whitechapel Whirlwind.

Starting today, the episode can be viewed on PKRG-TV in select areas in New Jersey, but in a few weeks in can be viewed on YouTube at this link.

Jack 'Kid' Berg