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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Year in Review: 2023

This year has been a great one for Jewish boxing! We got more fights and thankfully, fewer cancellations.

Some of the best:
Focused for Battle looks at several boxers' mindset during the referee's final instructions at center-ring right before the opening bell.
Sagiv Ismailov Wins Under Difficult Circumstances explores the trials an Israeli boxer faced just to take part in a fight in Germany in the wake of the Hamas attacks on October 7.
David Alaverdian Discusses His Last Fight shows what the talented fighter experienced during his gritty bout in April. The article also broke news of a virus that has kept David out of action ever since.
The Promoters' Screwjob is a behind-the-scenes look at Shawn Sarembock's personal introduction to the dirty side of boxing.
The Lasting Legacy of Boxing Historian Mike Silver is a retrospective on the man who wrote one of the  most important books about Jewish boxing history, Stars in the Ring.
Odelia Ben Ephraim Wins French Featherweight Title recaps the fight with great analysis from the fighter herself.
The Flying Hammer is a profile of Cletus Seldin: professional power puncher and part-time skydiver.
CSAC Cancelled Cohen-Bradley Due to "Large Weight Disparity" features reporting on why Stefi Cohen's January fight against Kedra Bradley was nixed at the last minute.

Recap of the fights:
Cletus Seldin ended a two-year hiatus with a win in a rough fight in October. Carolina Duer dropped a disputed split decision in April. Undefeated prospect Sagiv Ismailov fought four times in 2023. The recap of his last fight has links to the other three. Dr. Stefi Cohen went 2-0 with a win in February and another in June. David Alaverdian needed to make adjustments to win his bout in April. Odelia Ben Ephraim went 2-1 this year including a dominant victory in March. Mor Oknin grabbed a "W" in September. Three Jewish fighters won in Israel in February.

This year The Jewish Boxing Blog began covering the pro careers of Ben Ephraim, Josh Feldman, Alex Karchevski, Lev Jackson, and Sahar Meir.

The Top 5 series continues to look at the best 5 Jewish boxers in a particular area or category. Expect more Top 5s in 2024.

This year featured profiles of Alf Mansfield (a tough flyweight who fought Jimmy Wilde), Harry "Kid" Brown (an intelligent pioneer), Jack Silver (a popular Cali lightweight in the '20s), Frankie Fink (the "Yiddisher Cowboy"), Benny Pascal (a tough Philly fighter), Willie Buff (a pro star who embellished his amateur creds), and Ovadia Hochman (an amateur boxer who reinvented himself after scandal).

Sadly, Kenny "Bang Bang" Bogner passed away this year. Here is his obituary.

Book Reviews:
The Fighter of Auschwitz by Erik Brouwer
Stars and Scars by Jeff Jones
Matthew Saad Muhammad by William Dettloff
Family, Gangsters & Champions by Ramon Antonio Vargas
Tony Canzoneri by Mark Allen Baker
Baseball, Nazis & Nedick's Hot Dogs by Jerry Izenberg

Thank you all for reading this year! You can support The Jewish Boxing Blog by following on X/TwitterInstagram, and Threads; subscribing to the Jewish Boxing newsletter at Buy Me a Coffee for a one-time payment of $3; and using Amazon affiliate links on The JBB's Featured Books page. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Lasting Legacy of Boxing Historian Mike Silver

In 2004, the renowned boxing historian, Chuck Hasson, walted into the Natonal Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to view an exhibition called "Sting Like A Maccabee: The Golden Age of the American Jewish-Boxer," curated by Mike Silver. Hasson looked around and said, "Mike, you did good." Chuck’s affirmation was special. "It meant more to me than a dozen positive reviews,' said Silver.

Since he began writing about boxing in the mid-1970s, Mike Silver has become one of the most important voices in the sport. The author of three of the best books out there, The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science, Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing, and The Night the Referee Hit Back: Memorable Moments from the World of Boxing, his passion for pugilism has never faded, despite viewing most of the current crop of fighters with a critical eye.

Though Silver possesses immense knowledge and a unique talent for conveying information, his interest and career in boxing began as a result of several serendipitous events involving his family. "My father was an immigrant who grew up on the Lower East Side," Silver told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "He didn't mention the Yankees or the Dodgers. The only sport he talked about was boxing."

Born in Russia, his father, Samuel, immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. "He was the youngest of six siblings and the only one who didn't speak with an accent," said Silver. "He was the most Americanized." Sam attempted to regale his sons with stories of the old Jewish boxers from the Lower East Side, but as a kid, Mike didn't yet take an interest in his dad's tales. The first spark came when Mike looked up boxing in the World Book Encyclopedia, a ubiquitous presence in every household during the 1950s, and became intrigued by the pictures of heavyweight champions Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, and John L. Sullivan.

As a boy, Mike was more interested in professional wrestling than boxing. One day when he was 14, he fell ill and had to miss school. Mike asked his younger brother to pick up a magazine that he saw displayed at the corner candy store that had a photo of wrestler Johnny Valentine on the cover. The magazine was Stanley Weston’s Boxing Illustrated, Wrestling News. After Mike finished with the wrestling articles, he read the boxing section. "That magazine was terrific in conveying the colorful history and romance of the sport. People don't realize, boxing was- in its heyday- a romantic sport," he explained.

Just as Mike found his passion, his dad found him a boxing trainer. Willie Grunes was an old school coach from the Lower East Side. An autodidact, Grunes sold peanuts at the old Madison Square Garden in the 1920s while picking up moves from the great fighters in the ring. Through the years Willie developed a tremendous understanding of the science of the sport. "Over the past four decades I’ve met, observed, and interviewed many trainers, some of whom are very famous," said Silver. "Only a few came close to the depth of Willie’s knowledge of the finer points of boxing technique."

After some lessons with Grunes, Mike attended summer camp. When he came back, Willie's gym had closed, and the trainer was operating out of the world famous Stillman's Gym. "I saw the famous fighters I had seen on tv," Mike recalled. Silver eventually sparred with some of the pros, but Willie was sure to stop any gym wars. "He knew how to train you and not get you killed." Willie would holler, "Move with him. He's green," and the pros would move and throw light punches and jabs, many of which landed on Mike's arms and shoulders.

Grunes had trained lightweight contender Maxie Shapiro, among others, to fight something akin to the precision of a ballet artist in the ring. The trainer taught Mike moves that mimicked Barney Ross: combinations, footwork, mixing his punches up and down, and how to make an opponent miss. Two of Grunes's former students, Bill Goodman and Tony Arnold, also taught Silver a ton about the sweet science.

Silver had a few amateur fights, but Grunes wouldn't let him fight in the Golden Gloves. "Too many ringers," he said. Guys would have over a dozen amateur fights off the books and try to fight as a Sub-Novice. One day when he was a 17 year old, Mike had a bad headache after a rough sparring session and understood it was time to give up boxing. After all, he wanted to go to college. His time learning under Grunes gave Silver a deep understanding of boxing and its difficulty. "I was exposed to enough of it to appreciate how hard it is."

In the mid-1970s, Silver read an article about four heavyweights. He disagreed with the article's assessment and wrote a letter about it to Sports Illustrated. They published the letter, which showed he had something worth saying. His first article as a journalist, though, was another act of serendipity.

Mike's brother was in medical school and working his ER rotation when he saw a new patient with a vaguely familiar face and a familiar surname. "Are you Mickey Walker, the fighter?" he asked. "Yep, and I fought them all," came Mickey Walker's reply. He raced to the phone and called his boxing-mad brother.

Walker was soon transferred over to Jewish Memorial Hospital where Mike met the legend. Walker was laying in his hospital bed. "He had a glow," Silver remembered. "The only other person I've ever seen with that same glow was Robert Kennedy when he was running for senator." Silver noted how long and muscular Walker's arms were even as an older man in his seventies. The champ was a bit out of it and asked, "How's Harry Greb doing?" Silver didn't have the heart to tell him Harry Greb had been dead for nearly fifty years.

Two other early articles buoyed Silver's acclaim. In 1974, he interviewed Roberto Duran through his trainer Freddie Brown. In the article, Silver described Duran as a "pocket-size Jack Dempsey." A while later Silver introduced himself to Duran's manager who responded, "Mike Silver, I know you! You're the guy who said Duran's a pocket-size Dempsey." Silver's only regret about the interview was not having his picture taken with the lightweight world champion. 

The other article arose from an interview with a hard-punching middleweight named Artie Levine. Levine, who Sugar Ray Robinson said was the hardest puncher he ever faced, welcomed Silver to his house. It was Silver's first entry for the legendary magazine, The Ring.

Silver takes a dim view of boxing's deteriorating quality. In his estimation rapacious promoters, the damaging influence of so-called “sanctioning organizations”, and scores of bogus belt holders have "destroyed whatever credibility the sport had.” He explained, "Boxing fell apart by the mid-1990s. It was out of control. In addition, there were very few trainers capable of teaching the finer points of boxing technique.” Around that time, short-sighted boxing pundits wondered aloud if Roy Jones Jr. was the greatest fighter of all-time. "Better than Sugar Ray Robinson?" decried Silver incredulously. The historian set out to set the record straight. Not only about Robinson, but about what he saw as the steady decline of his beloved sport.

Over the next few years, his color-coded files decorated the floor of his home. He considers The Arc of Boxing to be as much an engineering project as a writing one. He had to fit in different segments into the right chapters. He relied not only on his own expertise, but also that of many knowledgeable boxing men, including Bill Goodman, Tony Arnold, Teddy Atlas and Mike Capriano, Jr. After about fifteen publishers rejected his manuscript, McFarland took a chance on it. Numerous experts have since declared The Arc of Boxing "a must-read" for all boxing fans.

Fundamentally, Silver is an advocate for the fighters and for the sport. He has been praised as a "purist" and "old school," but those same words have been used to dismiss him. Silver's criticism of current fighters' technique isn't some blind longing for nostalgia, however. He enjoys watching Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Tyson Fury intrigues him; Silver hasn't seen a big man move like that since Buster Mathis. Silver believes fighters should be taught by true teachers, not only to improve their skills, but for their own safety. His concern for the fighters' safety is, in fact, the topic of his forthcoming book, which will be his fourth.

Whether through his books, his articles, his museum exhibition, his amazing cameos in boxing documentaries, or by simply helping out other historians, Mike Silver has left a lasting legacy on the sport he loves. At the end of our interview, I intended to ask Mike some random boxing questions of which I hadn't found answers. "Since I have an expert here..." I started. "Who? Is someone else  listening?" he joked. "You are!" I shot back. "You're the expert, Mike!" Mike, you've done good.

Mike Silver (center) with four Jewish boxers at the "Sting Like A Maccabee:
The Golden Age of the American Jewish Boxer" exhibit at the Philadelphia Jewish Museum.
From left to right: Phil Pollack, Sammy Farber, Silver, Herbie Kronowitz, and Morris Reif
photo courtesy of Mike Silver

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sagiv Ismailov Continues to Improve

Sagiv Ismailov won by decision against Evghenii Shabazov at Chisinau State University of Physical Education and Sports in Chisinau, Moldova last night. Ismailov's intelligent jabs and slippery defense controlled the super middleweight+ contest in his first career six-rounder.

Ismailov, a 21 year old Israeli, has developed impressively this year. Against Shabazov, his jab was particularly effective. He used it as a rangefinder, but also had a sneaky jab that he landed often off upper body movement. He shifted in the pocket and fired it when Shabazov least expected. Sagiv also utilized a stab jab to the midsection and even threw double jabs.

Meanwhile, Ismailov put to rest any questions about his stamina. He moved his upper body constantly and showed fleet feet throughout the fight. He slipped punches beautifully; Shabazov had a frustrating time finding the target. At one point in the third round, Ismailov resembled Yuri Foreman, using movement to set up his well-timed attacks from the outside. Sagiv Ismailov transforming into Yuri Foreman was unexpected to say the least.

Though Ismailov lost the first round, there were many good signs. He unveiled a double jab-straight right combination; it missed its mark, but it was a shrewd tactic. He seemed a bit tight early and was tagged with a one-two and several crisp Shabazov jabs. But Sagiv boxed smartly and patiently.

Between each round, the younger man sat down and received a muscle-waking massage to each of his limbs from trainer Evgheni Boico while Shabazov, a 43 year old from Chisinau who has worn a brace on his left elbow in each of his fights, stood up every time. The Moldovan got a towel waved in his face, but no water. The corner work was partly responsible for Ismailov's ascendance and the disappearance of Shabazov's offense down the stretch.

As the fight went on, Sagiv unleashed two-punch combinations to the body while punctuating with head shots. Shabazov was very tough and never in real danger, but he threw less and less as the fight progressed because Ismailov was too elusive.

Sagiv opened up his attack more in the sixth and final round. He sat down more on his punches, and his right found a home on Shabazov's body. He landed a big left hook. Shabazov finally woke up with ten seconds to go and went for broke, but Ismailov couldn't be touched.

Sagiv won by decision (60-54, 60-54, 59-55) to improve his record to 7-0 with 2 KOs. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the fight 59-55 for Ismailov, giving Shabazov only the first. He is now 1-4. After the fight, Sagiv put on his kippah and enjoyed some well-deserved catered kosher food, a welcome change from last fight when he had to bring his own food with him.

Ismailov has improved tremendously this year. His fight in February against a tall southpaw was a tad ugly. He looked much better in April against an opponent with limited pro experience. He shook off the rust last month, showing he can win a fight with just the jab. Last night, his defense was terrific and his offense was very creative. His next step is to counter after slipping punches. Against the Moldovan, Ismailov made him miss, but he didn't really make him pay.

Next year should be another development year. Hopefully, he is active and continues to face opponents with different styles and slightly more pro experience than Shabazov.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Ismailov and Shabazov Weigh In

Sagiv Ismailov and Evghenii Shabazov weighed in ahead of their super middleweight+ clash tomorrow night at Chisinau State University of Physical Education and Sports in Chisinau, Moldova. This is Ismailov's first scheduled six-rounder.

Ismailov (6-0, 2 KOs), a 21 year old Israeli, weighed in at 168.7 pounds, a smidge over the super middleweight limit. He was at his heaviest in April at 170 pounds. His lightest weight was 163.5 back in 2020. This is the third fight in a row he has been a bit over super middleweight, which is not uncommon for young fighters on their way up.

Shabazov (1-3), a 43 year old from Moldova, was a hair over the super middleweight limit at 168.1 pounds. This is the heaviest of his career by just over a pound. His lightest was 165.3 in his debut a year ago.

Some keys to the fight: Ismailov should use his jab early. Overhand rights and left hooks will set up his body shots. Stamina has been an issue for Sagiv in the past and this is his longest scheduled fight. Shabazov should pressure Ismailov relentlessly. He should get in close to negate Ismailov's hand and foot speed advantages. He needs to jab his way forward, not just walk in behind a low guard.

For a full preview, click here.

Sagiv Ismailov
(courtesy of Evgheni Boico)

Friday, December 15, 2023

Sagiv Ismailov to Face Evghenii Shabazov

Sagiv Ismailov is scheduled to face Evghenii Shabazov on December 23 at Universitatea de Educatie Fizica si Sport in Chisinau, Moldova. This will be Ismailov's fourth fight of the year and his first scheduled six-rounder.

This is the second fight since finishing his mandatory IDF commitment for the 21 year Ismailov (6-0, 2 KOs). Sagiv has shown steady improvement and has been moved along well. In February, he fought a tall southpaw. He built up his attack strategically in an April fight and threw intelligent combinations.  Last month, he used the jab effectively and stayed alert against a 100-fight veteran with power who can lull opponents to sleep.

Shabazov (1-3) represents another test. The 43 year old is a tough pressure fighter. An Assyrian from Chisinau, he has decent punch technique and at 5'11" is good at maintaining distance with small steps forward and backward. His primary weaknesses are a lack of hand and foot speed.

Defensively, Shabazov mostly tries to block the punches. He keeps a low guard and rotates his shoulders to bring his guard up. That leaves his midsection open. Occasionally, he pulls back to avoid oncoming fire. Evghenii is vulnerable to overhand rights and left hooks over the top, but opponents need to set up those shots or time them well.

For Ismailov to continue his development as a fighter, it will be important for him to use the jab liberally and then throw those power shots over the top, instead of simply loading up and exchanging. Sagiv has done well in that area his last two fights, and it'll work against Shabazov. Sagiv will also want to unleash combinations to the head that set up body shots, which is his best chance for a knockout against the tough Moldovan. Perhaps the most important key is stamina. The Israeli seems to have cured his stamina issues that troubled him in his third and fourth pro fights, but this is his first six-rounder

Ismailov and his team will travel to Chisinau on Wednesday. He observes Shabbat, so he'll weigh-in Friday morning. The fight will be Saturday night after sundown.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Squabbles at WBA Convention

The 102nd WBA convention in Orlando, Florida, USA featured some incidents involving Jewish boxers and a Jewish promoter. Two-division world champion Carolina Duer, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, and power puncher Cletus Seldin all attended the convention.

Duer of Argentina got into a public argument with Lewkowicz of Uruguay during the convention. The argument can be viewed here. Both are speaking Spanish, their native tongue.

Lewkowicz got into a far more heated argument when the son of Elvis Grant Phillips, the founder of Grant gloves, allegedly spit in the promoter's face. Here is a video of the aftermath. Former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins leapt to Lewkowicz's defense. At one point, Hopkins came close to Phillips. Seldin played the role of peacemaker, stepping in between Hopkins and the Phillips family.

Boxing Scene reports the alleged spit was "due to a disagreement during the session that pertains to the sanctioning of mandatories and interim-titles." Lewkowicz has pressed charges against Phillips.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Odelia Ben Ephraim to Challenge for European Title

Odelia Ben Ephraim is scheduled to challenge European featherweight champion Sheila Martinez in Alicante, Spain on January 27, 2024. Ben Ephraim won the French featherweight title in her last fight on November 24. Martinez (6-3, one KO) will be making her second defense since taking the title from Anna Lisa Brozzi on February 24.

Ben Ephraim (5-2) traveled to Los Angeles after her most recent fight and spent some time at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym with Jewish Canadian boxer Lev Jackson, who made the trip when his opponent backed out of a scheduled December 1 fight.

Odelia is a 24 year old from Blagnac, France. Both of her losses have come against former Muay Thai world champion Anaelle Angerville, including in her debut. Martinez is a 25 year old from Benidorm, Spain. She won her debut in 2020, lost three straight fights, and is now on a five-fight win streak.

This bout is scheduled for ten two-minute rounds. The Jewish Boxing Blog will have a full preview.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Introducing Sahar Meir

Bantamweight Sahar Meir scored a second round TKO against Roekdee Lajantha at Rangsit International Stadium in Rangsit, Thailand back on May 10. The fight was stopped a minute and eleven seconds into the round. Both fighters were making their professional boxing debuts.

BoxRec lists Meir as a 23 year old resident of Bangkok, Thailand, who was born in Jerusalem. Meir, also known as Sahar Ben Zaken, lists a small town in northern Israel called Misgav as his hometown on social media. Meir has experience fighting in Muay Thai and kickboxing.

Based on his boxing debut and his record in those other combat sports, Meir 
packs a lot of power in his punches.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Josh Feldman Wins by Majority Decision

Junior middleweight Joshua Feldman beat Potego Ntsoane by majority decision this evening at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa. Feldman did not dominate, but he deserved the win.

Feldman, a 19 year old southpaw from Cape Town, had some trouble finding his rhythm early in the fight. The smaller Ntsoane was awkward. He darted in and out, throwing shots from weird angles on his way in close and then clinching. As the shorter man who initiated the clinches, Ntsoane popped Feldman with his head a few times. But by the end of the opening round, Feldman found his range and landed a good combination.

Josh's jab didn't always fight the target, but in the second round, it occupied Ntsoane and set up the Capetonian's straight left. Ntsoane connected with a sharp counter straight right of his own, but Josh finished the second strong by attacking the body.

In the second half of the fight, both young men began to tire. Feldman adeptly slipped punches in the third and fourth rounds, but his offense was a bit more muted. While Feldman looked gassed by the end of the fight, Ntsoane's mouth remained agape as he gasped for air. For much of the contest, Potego used an amateur style, touching Feldman with lots of light blows that did little damage. Josh punctuated the fourth with some good hard combos, including one that ended with a left uppercut snapping back Ntsoane's head while he was on the ropes.

Two judges had the bout 39-37 for Feldman while one called it a draw at 38. Ntsoane tried hard, fought well, and may have a future in professional boxing, but he didn't deserve more than one round. Feldman landed all of the harder blows. He is now 2-0; Ntsoane is 0-1.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Feldman and Ntsoane Weigh In

Joshua Feldman and Potego Ntsoane weighed in ahead of their junior middleweight clash at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa tomorrow. The fight is part of a show promoted by Boxing 5 Promotions.

Feldman, a 19 year old who is 1-0, came in 153.3 pounds. Ntsoane, making his debut, weighed in at 149 pounds. These weights are unofficial at this time. Feldman was 153 for his first fight in October.

Josh splits his time training in his hometown of Cape Town and with Colin Nathan in Johannesburg. The key for the southpaw is to box smartly and don't force the knockout. In his debut against Mbulelo Aluhvani, Feldman dominated the fight from the outside. He did well in the pocket too, but by be fighting in close, he provided Aluhvani offensive opportunities. Potego Ntsoane will want to pressure Feldman and make it ugly.

This bout is slated for four rounds. It can be stream at VisionView.TV

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Top 5 Jewish South African Boxers

Andre de Vries's Top 5 Jewish South African Boxers

A legend in the sport, Andre de Vries is perhaps the most knowledgeable person on Earth about South African boxing.  He has done almost everything in boxing, working as a historian, journalist, commentator, record keeper, collector, and for Boxing South Africa in various capacities, to name just a few of his contributions.

Mr. de Vries mentioned that he doesn't keep stats based on race or religion, but he was very gracious to compile this enlightening list for The Jewish Boxing Blog. Note Tiger Burns was also known as Dan Levine.

1. Dave Katzen
2. Alf James
3. Leonard Friedman
4. Oscar Jacobsohn
5. Tiger Burns

Other Top 5s
Jewish Bareknuckle Boxers
Jewish Boxers since 1960
Jewish Londoner Boxers
Jewish Dutch Boxers
Jewish French Boxers
Jewish Female Boxers
Jewish Israeli Boxers
Jewish British Boxers
Jewish Canadian Boxers
Jewish North African Boxers

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Pioneering Intelligence of Harry "Kid" Brown

Harry "Kid" Brown pioneered scouting and game planning in boxing, believing brains were at least as important as brawn. He was one of the first fighters to study his opponents and learn their style. "You have to know 'em before you can hit 'em," he once declared.

Born on March 10, 1901, Harry Brown was raised in South Philadelphia before it became home to a high Jewish population in the early twentieth century. Harry's neighborhood was exclusively Irish. The Browns had been the first Jewish family to move in and, as a result, quickly learned how to scrap. As a kid, Harry got a job as a newsboy, a profession uniquely suited to prepare one for the life of a boxer. Newsboys had to physically fight in order to maintain a lucrative corner to supplement the family income. BoxRec has Brown boxing on a newsboy card at the age of fourteen and scoring a second round TKO.

Brown's widely recognized debut came when he was 16. He walked up to Walter Schlichter, who was serving as manager of the Gayety Theatre at the time, and asked to fight on his next card. Schlichter, also a sportswriter and boxing referee, recalled the encounter. "He was wearing knickers and looked as though he had just left a kindergarten class."

Tall and slender, Brown came of age during Philadelphia's 'no decision' era when official results were only registered for fights that ended early. If a bout went the distance, newspapers printed their verdict the next day. Harry fought constantly, having amassed at least 50 fights when he faced featherweight world champion Johnny Kilbane at Shibe Park on May 24, 1920 in a six-round no-decision bout. Brown took the fight to Kilbane in the early rounds and the "obscure boxer," as one paper described him, earned a divided decision victory from the press.

On December 12, 1921, Brown fought junior lightweight world champion Johnny Dundee at the Olympia Athletic Club in an over-the-weight affair. The kid had some success on the inside, but Dundee outboxed him to take the eight-rounder in the eyes of the newsmen. Over the next two months, Brown continued to fight often, including two wins over Sammy Mosberg, the 1920 Olympic lightweight gold medalist. The second one was an eight-rounder at Madison Square Garden.

To this point in his career, Harry argued that his toughest fight had been an early one against a puncher named Mike Malone. "I was a sophomore at South Philadelphia High School at the time," Brown remembered, "and did not have time to read papers about different boxers." When he was offered a fight in October of 1917, Brown recalled, "I didn't even ask who my opponent was to be." In the fight, Malone nearly knocked out Brown, who held on for dear life before coming back to earn a newspaper decision. The Malone experience taught Brown the importance of knowing one's opponent, and that knowledge made a him better fighter. "Would you believe it," he queried, "the bouts with Johnny Kilbane and Johnny Dundee were about the easiest I ever had?"


Brown's next big fight came on July 31, 1923 when he took on the new junior lightweight world champion Jack Bernstein in an eight-round no-decision contest. Though a boring fight, Harry won convincingly, cutting Bernstein in the last round. By that point, he had about a hundred fights on his record. Three wins later, Brown battled future lightweight champion Sammy Mandell at Madison Square Garden on October 26. Mandell was too fast for Brown and won the twelve-rounder by wide decision.

Brown fought twice more before dropping a ten-round fight to newly crowned European and British lightweight champion Harry Mason in New York early in 1924. The crowd at the Pioneer Sporting Club disagreed with the official verdict while Mason walked away with a bloody lip for his trouble. After a relatively slow 1924, Brown faced Jimmy Goodrich early in 1925. With decisions legalized in Pennsylvania in 1924, the Goodrich fight would see an official judgement. At the Arena in Philly, the two judges split, but the referee awarded Goodrich, who would become lightweight world champion in six months, the victory.

On September 24, Brown lost to Sid Terris at Shibe Park. Harry had been a late replacement and gave a good account of himself against an opponent with incredibly fast hands. A bizarre no-contest in Baltimore against future middleweight world champion Vince Dundee followed a few months later. On April 9, 1926, Harry fought Mandell in a rematch in East Chicago, Indiana. Mandell, who would win the lightweight world title in three months, flashed his speed once again and took every round in a ten-round newspaper decision. Brown continuously clinched until referee Dave Barry, later of the Long Count fame, pried Harry off of Sammy.

Harry's younger brother Joe also became a professional boxer. Eight years younger, Joe dropped out of Temple University to pursue a career in pugilism. After nine victories in nine fights, Joe called it quits. It was a wise decision. Described as possessing "hands hard enough to knock out a light-heavyweight and soft enough to sculpt a remarkable figure of a beaten boxer," Harry's little brother became a world-renowned sculptor and eventually a professor at Princeton University.
Joe Brown at work

Harry wouldn't become an Ivy League professor, but he showed his intelligence in other ways. He not only devised game plans, but also came up with backup plans for his fights. "If nothin' else, a change in style is guaranteed to confuse them," he reasoned.

Late in 1926, Harry Brown went on a West Coast swing. He boasted over a hundred victories, including those of the newspaper variety. While in Los Angeles, Brown would enjoy the greatest success of his career. In succession, he beat the formidable Baby Joe Gans, Young Harry Wills, and the popular Johnny Adams. That set up a matchup against 18 year old hotshot Jackie Fields, the reigning Olympic featherweight gold medalist and future two-time welterweight world champion. "I look at this match as the toughest I've ever had," Fields claimed.

Jackie's hand speed and superior footwork were too much for Brown, who at 25 years old, was a wily veteran of nearly 150 fights. A few weeks later, Harry traveled to San Francisco to fight another future two-time welterweight world champion, Young Jack Thompson. At Dreamland Rink, Brown was stopped in the fifth round in February. In a rematch a month later at the same venue, Brown lost by decision. He fought on another five and half years, until 1932, but no longer at the top level.

Harry never got a legitimate shot at the title, nor did he get his dream fight. Brown always pursued a grudge match against his former stablemate Lew Tendler. Brown believed their manager Phil Glassman gave Tendler star treatment, while Brown played the role of second banana. Harry bought out his contract for $2,000 and signed with Harry Segal for a while. He then linked up with Max "Boo Boo" Hoff, the Philadelphia gangster. By that time, "Lefty" Lew was a dozen pounds heavier than the "Kid," so the duel never materialized.

Harry "Kid" Brown's final tally was something like 117-43-26, including newspaper decisions, with 19 KOs, he was stopped three times, and had two no contests, according to BoxRec. After boxing, Harry spent time as a masseur, owned a bar, and a boxing gym. He was known to be well-bred and a sterling conversationalist. Harry died on March 28, 1985 at the age of 84. His brother Joe had died just two weeks earlier.

By implementing innovative boxing strategies, Brown built on the legacy of the great Daniel Mendoza. In addition to the legends he fought, he swapped punches with dozens of very good opponents as well. In 1968, Harry was elected to the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame. Venerable boxing historian Mike Silver rates Brown as one of the ten best Jewish fighters from Philadelphia ever. Hopefully, Harry "Kid" Brown will soon receive even wider recognition for his contributions to the sweet science. He deserves it.

Brown, Harry "Kid." "The Hardest Battle of My Ring Career." The Sun. Feb. 23, 1923. Pg. 10.
"Dave Shade Beats Wells at Garden." New York Times. Oct. 27, 1923, Pg. 10.
"Eckersall, Walter. "Sammy Mandell Beats Kid Brown in Every Round." Chicago Daily Tribune. Apr. 10, 1926. Pg. 21.
"Harry 'Kid' Brown, 84, South Philadelphia Boxer." Philadelphia Inquirer. Mar. 30, 1985. Pg. B5.
"Inductee: Joe Brown." Philly Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
"Itches to Meet Tendler." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 15, 1926. Pg. A7.
"Kid Williams Wins over Patsy Johnson." The Sun. May 25, 1920. Pg. 11.
"Mason Beats Brown in Ten-Round Bout." New York Times. Jan. 16, 1924. Pg. 13.
Silver, Mike. Stars in the Ring. 2016. Pgs. 126, 323.
"Villa Outpoints Williams in Bout." New York Times. Aug. 1, 1923. Pg. 15.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Carolina Duer in Negotiations to Fight Laura Grzyb

On April 29, Carolina Duer dropped a disputed split decision to Gabriel Bouvier. The fight was for a trinket the WBC calls the "Silver Championship." Duer petitioned for an immediate rematch because of the controversial nature of the decision. The WBC agreed with Duer's request and in June ordered a rematch.

Bouvier apparently did not want to fight Duer again, and the WBC has, or will, strip her of her strap. The WBC now has ordered Duer and Laura Grzyb to complete negotiations by December 20 for a chance to fight for the vacant Ag belt.

The WBC's Silver belt is not as prestigious as its Interim belt, but more so than its International belt. It also shouldn't be confused with the organization's Diamond, Youth, Youth Intercontinental, Youth Silver, International Silver, Franchise, Eternal, or regional title belts. Fighters pay a sanctioning fee for the "honor" of wearing one of these tchotchkes. How else can WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman afford his expensive suits?

This is not to single out the WBC, which is the likely best of the sanctioning bodies. Of course, determining the best sanctioning body is like choosing your favorite covid symptom.

It's important to note, the fighters shouldn't be blamed for the proliferation of sanctioning body belts. They're just playing the game as it is. And regardless of the WBC's belt nonsense, Duer-Grzyb is a good fight.

Duer, a 45 year old from Argentina, is a two-division world champion. After the debatable defeat to Bouvier, she is now 20-7-2 with 6 KOs. Grzyb is a 28 year old from Poland. Her record is 10-0 with 3 KOs. She currently holds the European junior featherweight title and successfully defended it in October.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Lev Jackson Off Friday's Card

Southpaw lightweight Lev Jackson had been scheduled to fight on Friday at the Taj Park Convention Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Jackson told The Jewish Boxing Blog that his opponent backed out and unfortunately, a replacement could not be found.

Jackson is 3-1-1 with one KO and one no contest. The 31 year old is an exciting all-action fighter.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Odelia Ben Ephraim Wins French Featherweight Title

Odelia "Thunder" Ben Ephraim captured the vacant French featherweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Lydie Bialic tonight at Palais des sports in Cahors, France. Ben Ephraim combined a high level of volume with a highly intelligent punch selection in an impressive performance.

The former sparring partners wasted little time before swapping punches. In the second round, Ben Ephraim dipped her left shoulder and connected with a left hook. By the next round, the 24 year old from Blagnac controlled the fight regardless of the range. At distance, she landed sneaky jabs and straight rights over the top of the shorter Bialic's guard. Bialic, a 23 year old from Auch, often loaded up on her shots and Ben Ephraim's well-timed jabs greatly disrupted Bialic's attack.

In close, the former amateur champion of Israel was just as good. She took half steps back and tagged a charging Bialic with short accurate shots. She slipped and blocked a lot of her opponent's forays. In the third round, a trickle of blood escaped Bialic's nose. The next round saw Ben Ephraim dip her left shoulder, but this time a right over the top found the target.

Bialic had a relatively better fifth, landing a couple of hard rights and finally initiating a body assault. She couldn't carry the momentum into the sixth round and took a beating. Bialic exhibited tremendous heart as she pressed forward throwing punches, but Ben Ephraim expertly maintained distance and her fists repeatedly found a friend in Bialic's face.

Odelia seemingly went for the knockout early in the seventh and when it didn't come, she returned to boxing. Late in the round, she pulled off a Mayweather-style pull-counter with a straight right. In the final period, Thunder unleashed a barrage while Bialic was trapped on the ropes and another five-punch combination in center ring..

Ben Ephraim won by scores of 79-73, 78-74, 78-74. She was ecstatic when her name was announced as the victor and jumped for joy. The Jewish Boxing Blog had it 79-73, giving Bialic only the first.

Odelia told The JBB that she was a little disappointed in her performance. She knew Bialic's style from their previous sparring sessions and developed a strategy just for her. The plan was to keep Bialic at range, but Ben Ephraim believes she only managed to effectively control distance in the later rounds. She had been working on changing angles, but didn't show that new wrinkle in the ring.  "It's crazy how you lose so much capacity and so much technique during a fight," she said. "You can be great during sparring, but once you step up into the ring for a fight you can lose a lot of skills."

One weakness of Odelia's performance is she landed very few body punches, which is unusual for her. "We worked a lot on body shots [in training]," she said. She felt Bialic's charging style and ability to get in close took that option away. The plan was to change angles in order to land more body shots, but it didn't pan out this time. Though Ben Ephraim was critical of herself, she showed tremendous skill and intelligence during a high-action fight.

Ben Ephraim hurt her hand early in camp and later twisted her left elbow while sparring, so she couldn't work on her jab for a few days, but she didn't feel any pain heading into the fight. Her record is now 5-2. She has yet to register a knockout, which of course is much more difficult with two-minute rounds. Bialic is now 2-3-1.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ben Ephraim and Bialic Weigh-In

Odelia Ben Ephraim and Lydie Bialic weighed in ahead of their battle for the French featherweight title tomorrow at the Palais des sports in Cohors, France. Ben Ephraim came in at 125, a pound under the featherweight limit. Bialic was 122 pounds.

Ben Ephraim (4-2) has consistently made the featherweight limit. The lightest she has weighed in for a pro fight was 123.5 pounds. Bialic (2-2-1) has fought as a bantamweight and a junior featherweight. Her lightest weight was 116 pounds while her heaviest had been 120.5 pounds before today.

A key for Ben Ephraim is to avoid Bialic's looping shots. She may want to box from the outside more then usual instead of sitting in the pocket while throwing five and six punch combinations. For Bialic, a key is to use the jab as a weapon instead of just as a decoy and to go to the body early. That should set up her overhand shots in the middle and late rounds.

Click here for a preview of the fight.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Josh Feldman to Fight in December

Junior middleweight Josh Feldman is scheduled to fight Potego Ntsoane at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 9. This will be Feldman's second pro fight.

Last month, Feldman, a 19 year old southpaw from Cape Town, looked impressive in notching a unanimous decision victory over Mbulelo Aluvhani.

Ntsoane, from Johannesburg, is making his pro debut. He's had a couple of scheduled pro bouts fall through. He was scheduled to fight Feldman in July, but Feldman fell ill after a spider bite.

This bout is scheduled for four rounds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Tale of Long John Silver

Jack Silver participated in two of the biggest fights in California after the state legalized boxing, helping to enhance the sport's popularity on the Pacific Coast.

No Silver Spoon
Jacob Silverstein was born on August 16, 1903 and grew up in the Portola district of San Francisco, California. His father Morris, an immigrant from Vienna, was a tailor specializing in women's clothes. Jack was the sixth of eight children. His younger brother Joey also became a professional boxer.

At eight years old, Jack started hawking papers to help supplement his family's meager income. Newsboys typically had to fight to take control of a profitable corner, and many professional boxers of the era earned early fighting experience as newsboys. Silver first engaged in organized fighting during his two years in the Navy. He rapidly improved and captured the lightweight championship of the Pacific Fleet.

Quite a few pro boxers of the era got their start in the U.S. Navy. These Navy men, also known as gobs, often used easily identifiable noms de guerre. Fighting under the name Sailor Silver, Jack took on opponents such as Sailor Ashmore, Sailor Joe Fisher, and Sailor Wagner to name just a few.

In addition to the Navy, the other major factor that defined Silver's career was California's legal stance on boxing. In 1914, professional boxing essentially became illegal in the state. Four-round bouts were permitted and amateurs could receive small payments for their services. This period is know as the California's four-round era. Before there was Butterbean, "Long John" Silver was the king of the four-rounders.

Silver turned pro in 1922 and his popularity soon skyrocketed among San Francisco's boxing fans. Beginning in the winter of 1923, he spent twelve consecutive weeks headlining the main event at Dreamland Rink. As his legend grew, that number increased to 52 consecutive weeks. Silver almost certainly didn't reach that mark, but he had another seven-week streak that summer and his name graced the marquee the majority of Dreamland's weekly Friday shows that year.

At 5'9", Silver was a tall and rangy fighter. Besides the nod to his history as a gob and the literary reference to Treasure Island, his other nicknames were "The Human Lollipop, "The Human Bean Pole," and "The Hebrew Flash." A cerebral boxer who was often overly cautious, he was still a tremendous draw, acting a precursor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. After professional boxing was legalized in California again on January 1, 1925, Jack fought Joe Benjamin in a bout so big, it would be celebrated for decades.

Benny Leonard and Jack Silver (Blady, pg. 157)

The Joe Benjamin Fight
Joe Benjamin, another Jewish boxer popular in the Bay Area, was a ten-year pro when his fought Silver on February 23, 1925 at Recreation Park in San Francisco in a ten-round affair. Twenty thousands fans came out to watch Long John Silver fight "The Sheik of San Joaquin" in the first major fight since legalization. The winner would continue forward in a massive tournament to decide the lightweight champion of the world, a position which Benny Leonard had vacated the previous month.

Just before the fight began, a moment of silence was held for Sam Berger, the first ever Olympic heavyweight gold medalist and a fellow Jew who had died earlier that day. Benjamin wobbled Silver with a right in the first round and floored him in the third. Jack worked his way back into the fight, but Benjamin finished strong and took the decision. Jack felt he deserved no worse than a draw, but few agreed with him.

The fight would be remembered in California boxing circles for decades. In addition to Jack and Joe and Jack's little brother Joey, boxing luminaries such as Jackie Fields and Mushy Callahan attended the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the fight, which was seemingly remembered in the papers on February 23 every year.

The Mushy Callahan Fight
Silver took part in another huge fight a year and a half later. He had fought about twenty times since the Benjamin loss when he faced Mushy Callahan on July 5, 1926 at Ewing Field in San Francisco. Benjamin had fought only once after defeating Silver before he retired, so Silver was the hottest thing in the Northern California. Meanwhile, Callahan, also a Jewish ex-newsie, had become a big shot in Los Angeles. The fight between Silver and Callahan was billed as North vs. South.

On a cold and windy July day, 7,559 people watched Silver dismantle Callahan through a thick fog. It was a repeat of the Civil War except this time the North had little trouble. Silver dropped Callahan at the end of the first. Callahan, a two-to-one favorite, maybe won one round, the eighth, in a ten-round contest, but otherwise Silver made him look amateurish. Silver, the Pacific Coast lightweight titlist, looked like a genuine world title contender.

In the past, Long John had received criticism for clinching too much and fighting only in spurts. Against Callahan, he let his hands go, fighting every minute of every round. The win looked even better when on September 21, Callahan beat Pinky Mitchell to win the junior welterweight world championship.

Silver Lining
A week after Callahan won the title, Silver fought future two-time welterweight world champion Young Jack Thompson at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A. Thompson battered Silver, breaking his jaw. Silver's corner threw in the towel in the eighth to stop the carnage. It was Silver's first KO loss. Less than three months later, Silver fought another future two-time welterweight world champion, Jackie Fields. Fields pummeled Silver so thoroughly, referee Toby Irwin halted the bout in the fourth.

Following the disastrous fight against Fields, Silver fired his manager. He fought on until the beginning of 1930, but he was never the same. In retirement, Silver's life mirrored his one-time rival, Mushy Callahan. Jack moved to L.A. and became a stuntman in Hollywood. Like Callahan, he worked as a boxing instructor for movie stars, teaching Ronald Reagan and James Cagney the finer points of pugilism. Jack and his bride, Bess O'Connor, were married for 56 years. For 25 of them, he served as a respected boxing referee and judge. Like Callahan, Silver converted to Catholicism. On July 26, 1994, Jack died at the age of 90.

BoxRec lists Silver's record as 63-22-34. Author Ken Blady contends his record was actually 201-7-29. Regardless, many contemporaries acknowledge countless bad decisions went against Long John. No matter, numbers matter less than one's legacy. Silver served his country before raising boxing's popularity in California to new heights. And that's Jack's silver lining.

Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers' Hall of Fame. 1988.
Hank Kaplan Archives, Brooklyn College.
Oakland Tribune's coverage of the Callahan fight found in July 6, 1926 edition on page 29.
San Francisco Bulletin's coverage of Benjamin fight found in February 24, 1925 edition on page 17.
San Francisco Bulletin's coverage of the Callahan fight found in July 6, 1926 edition on page 13.

Friday, November 10, 2023

News & Notes

Joshua Feldman is scheduled to fight on December 9 at at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa. The 19 year old southpaw junior middleweight from Cape Town, South Africa won his debut three weeks ago.

Sagiv Ismailov is scheduled to fight on December 23 in Chişinău, Moldova. The 21 year old super middleweight improved to 6-0 with a win under difficult circumstances last Saturday.

David Alaverdian announced on social media that he has been struggling with an undetermined virus since just before his last fight in April. After the fight David told The Jewish Boxing Blog that he had to stop training for five days either because of a virus or a flare-up of asthma. "I do feel like it's getting a little bit better," he said on Instagram.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Stefi Cohen in Camp, No Fight This Week

Dr. Stefanie Cohen had been scheduled to fight this Saturday at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, California, USA according to BoxRec. She won't fight on that card, but mentioned that she is currently in camp. On social media, she teased an upcoming announcement.

In September, Cohen traveled to Miami and briefly worked with her old trainer Dr. Pedro Diaz. She currently trains with Pedro Santiago. Stefi made the change when she moved from Miami, where Diaz is based, to Southern California.

Cohen is 4-1-1 as a boxer. She is a popular social media figure, powerlifting world record-holder, and entrepreneur.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sagiv Ismailov Wins Under Difficult Circumstances

Sagiv Ismailov kept his undefeated record with a unanimous decision victory over Slavisa Simoneunovic at Werk 2 in Plettensburg, Germany last night. The 21 year old Ismailov shut out his opponent after enduring a challenging lead-up to his sixth professional fight.

As late as the week of the bout, Sagiv's team believed he only had "a small chance" to fight Saturday night. Ismailov, who completed his mandatory IDF service in August, last sparred on October 6. The next day, Hamas terrorists flooded southern Israel murdering 1,500 people and injuring thousands more. Terrorist attacks and bombings continued for days after the massacre. One attempt was stopped in the city of Ashdod where Sagiv trains.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Sagiv's training all but stopped. Hiding in bomb shelters to avoid rocket fire became the norm. Nevertheless, he was given an opportunity to fight in Germany, something he seriously considered since he had last competed in April.

His team asked the promoter not to announce to fight beforehand due to concerns about heightened antisemitism in the region. The promoter honored the team's request. Seemingly assured, Sagiv and his team felt it was worth traveling to Germany for the fight.

A sympathetic local advised Sagiv not to wear any identifiably Jewish symbols because of safety concerns. When asked, Ismailov and his team said they were from a European country as to not bring unwanted attention to the Israeli fighter. His trainer told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "We didn't want to fight anyone before we even got into the ring."

The weigh-in was scheduled during Shabbat, which Sagiv observes. The promoter graciously accommodated Ismailov, who came in at 169.8 pounds before Friday's sunset. Saturday night, the ring announcer did not name a hometown when introducing "Sergey Ismailov."

Sagiv was originally scheduled to face an inexperienced opponent from a nearby country, but the man didn't make the trip to Germany. A backup fighter also fell through, so the veteran Simoneunovic filled in. Simoneunovic, a 44 year old from Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, follows in the tradition of the great Jewish journeyman, Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss. Strauss would go hard for three rounds, run out of gas, and then find a soft spot on the canvas. A veteran of over a hundred fights, Simoneunovic typically throws big shots with bad intentions for a couple of rounds before retiring in the corner if things aren't going well. This was his eighteenth fight since the beginning of 2022.

With no sparring in the last month, minimal training, and an experienced opponent, Ismailov decided not to take chances. He boxed the entire fight, sweeping all four rounds on the three judges' cards.

Ismailov continuously peppered his opponent with jabs while moving around the ring. He kept his left low at times, which allowed Simoneunovic to connect with three overhand rights in the first round. Sagiv countered the third one with a quick straight right of his own. He landed a stiff 1-2 at the end of the second round.

Simoneunovic was scolded by the referee before the third for jumping the gun. The veteran smiled sheepishly on his way back to his corner. He landed a combination left hook to the body and an overhand right in the round, but Ismailov came back with a couple of stiff right uppercuts. He also briefly switched to the southpaw stance and landed a stiff jab.

As the fight went on, Sagiv improved defensively. He understood Simoneunovic's primary weapon was the overhand right and began to slip it. In the fourth, he moved in the pocket, changing angles, showing another wrinkle to his game. All three judges scored the bout 40-36.

Ismailov's record is now 6-0 with 2 KOs. He is next scheduled to fight on December 23 in Moldova. Slavisa "The Bosnian Bruce Strauss" Simoneunovic is now 41-68 with 33 KOs. He fights in two weeks.
photo credit: Stefan Burghaus

Monday, October 30, 2023

Stefi Cohen Back in Action November 11

Dr. Stefanie Cohen is scheduled to fight on November 11 at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, California, USA. This will be the 31 year old's first fight since a unanimous decision victory over Esli Cervantes in June.

Cohen, a native of Venezuela, sports a record of 4-1-1 with one KO. She came to boxing late after a world record-breaking powerlifting career. For this bout, Cohen has sparred with undefeated prospect Lupita Medina and the legend Yesica Bopp.

Cohen's bout is scheduled for four two-minute rounds in the super flyweight division. No opponent has yet been named,

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Top 5 Jewish Boxers from London

Jeff Jones's Top 5 Jewish Boxers from London

Jeff Jones is the author of two books: East End Born and Bled: The Remarkable Story of London Boxing and Stars and Scars: The Story of Jewish Boxing in London. Both are must-reads for boxing fans who want to understand one of the most significant cities in the sport's history. The Jewish Boxing Blog's review of Stars and Scars can be found here. Jones has also written a profile on Ted "Kid" Lewis which is forthcoming and will be linked here when it becomes available.

A note about this talent-packed list: It only includes boxers who were born and grew up in London. Otherwise, Roman Greenberg would have deserved consideration. Jones explains, "His light burned bright but not for long. At his best a great fighter."

1. Ted "Kid" Lewis
2. Johnny Brown
3. Jack "Kid" Berg
4. Harry Mizler
5. Matt Wells

Other Top 5s
Jewish Bareknuckle Boxers
Jewish Boxers since 1960
Jewish South African Boxers
Jewish Dutch Boxers
Jewish French Boxers
Jewish Female Boxers
Jewish Israeli Boxers
Jewish British Boxers
Jewish Canadian Boxers
Jewish North African Boxers

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Josh Feldman Wins Debut

Junior middleweight Joshua Feldman beat Mbulelo Aluvhani by unanimous decision in his pro debut at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa today. The 19 year old southpaw from Cape Town showed a lot of skill.

Before the fight, Colin Nathan, Feldman's trainer, told his young charge, "Remember son, you only have one debut. Go out and enjoy yourself."

Wearing black trunks with a gold Star of David, Josh opened the fight with a big left hand. He then boxed effectively, avoiding Aluvhani's big shots, and landing at range. He slipped the shots well and landed a flashy 1-2 at the end of the first round.

To start the second, Feldman landed two crisp straight lefts. When he lunged inside, Aluvhani landed the counter jab. The 28 year old's only shot at success came when Josh was in close range.

The teenaged debutant showed an array of creative offensive tricks. In the third, he jabbed to the body to set up a clever straight left up top. After connecting with quite a few straight lefts, he then looped it late in the round. In the fourth, Feldman snapped a right hook to the body and then went to the head with the same punch. 

Aluvhani was a strong, tough opponent. He capitalized on Feldman's occasional over eagerness. Overall though, Feldman showed a lot of ability and maturity in his first pro fight.

Josh tired by the end, a common occurrence for boxers making their debut. He also hasn't fought competitively in two years, the last time he competed in the amateurs. Nevertheless, The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the bout 40-36 in his favor.

Nathan, who is also Jewish, said after the fight, "This was a personal one for me." Feldman, who is trainer's first Jewish fighter, won with two scores of 40-36 and one of 39-37.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Josh Feldman Makes Weight

Wainstein, Nathan, and Feldman might sound like a prestigious law firm, but they are key figures in tomorrow's boxing card at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa. Larry Wainstein runs Boxing.5 Promotions, the promoter of the show. Colin Nathan of No Doubt Management and the Hot Box Gym is the manager and trainer of many of the fighters. And Joshua Feldman will be making his pro debut.

Feldman is a 19 year old southpaw from Cape Town. He told Hayden Jones of SA Boxing Talk that he started his training camp back home this time and came up to Johannesburg for the last two weeks before the fight. That seems to be the plan going forward. "I'm going to base myself in Cape Town mainly, but when I have a fight here, I'll come up a couple weeks before and get some work in," he told Jones.

Feldman got good sparring with pro boxers Almighty Creed Moyo and Owen Benganayi among others. Josh described his training with Colin Nathan at the Hot Box Gym as "amazing."

"The sessions are priceless to be honest," Feldman said.

Josh weighed in at 153.1 pounds for his debut. His opponent, Mbulelo Aluvhani, was a smidge overweight, coming in 0.2 pounds above the 154 junior middleweight limit. He was given time to take off the excess weight although he looked to be in excellent condition.

The card is to be streamed on Vision View TV.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Odelia Ben Ephraim to Face Lydie Bialic for French Title

Featherweight Odelia "Thunder" Ben Ephraim is scheduled to fight Lydie Bialic at the Palais des sports in Cohors, France. This bout is for the French featherweight title.

Ben Ephraim just turned 24 yesterday. She sports a record of 4-2 and BoxRec rates her at number 44 in the division. She has only lost to one woman, Anaelle Angerville. Both loses were close decisions. Their second tussle was also for the vacant French featherweight title.

Bialic (2-2-1) is a 22 year old native of Auch, France. Her two wins were against winless opponents, but her two losses were to quality foes. She last fought in April, a split draw against Laela El Ksiri.

Ben Ephraim and Bialic have trained together. The also share a common opponent. Ben Ephraim beat Romane Geffray by split decision in March of 2022 in a six-rounder. Bialic lost to Geffray in a close competitive fight this past February in a ten-rounder for a minor belt.

Ben Ephraim-Bialic should be an exciting fight. Odelia has no problem letting her hands go. Bialic likes to bob and weave her way in low while loading up huge punches. Bialic uses the jab as a decoy. She primarily throws looping overhand shots with either hand, uppercuts, and attacks the body. Odelia has shown vulnerability to those looping overhand shots, but she is an excellent punch-picker and Bialic leaves herself open when she throws.

This bout is scheduled for eight two-minute rounds.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Benny Pascal: Protégé of Benny Bass

Benny Pascal trained with two-division world champion Benny Bass and was briefly a title contender himself. Most of his fifty-plus fights took place while he was a teenager.


Benjamin Pascal was born on November 18, 1906 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were both Romanian immigrants. His father Isaac was 34 years old when little Benny, the fifth of eight children, was born. His mother Ray (Rebecca) née Ianovitch was 32.

Benny grew up in the Southwark neighborhood of Philadelphia. During his formative years, the area was described as a Jewish slum. Benny picked up boxing at an early age and by the time he had turned fifteen, he was the amateur flyweight champion of the "Middle States."

Benny was fifteen and a half when he turned professional. At that time, May of 1922, only knockouts and disqualifications counted towards a boxer's official record in Pennsylvania. Decisions in fights eight rounds or fewer were illegal. To get around the law, newspapers printed their verdicts.

Pascal officially won four of his first five fights and scored a newspaper decision in the other bout. As the opposition improved, Benny would only score one more KO during the rest of his career. He won three more newspaper decisions against more experienced foes until finally dropping his first newspaper decision in September.

Late in the year, Pascal split a pair of newspaper decisions with George Helmar, the former amateur bantamweight champion of the Middle States. Pascal finished 1922 with an unofficial record of 12-4 after dropping three of his last four fights to close out the year. Officially, he was 4-0.

Pascal fought on on back-to-back days beginning on February 8. He had already fought at least five times in 1923 when he met Tommy Langdon in mid-March in Shamokin, PA. The fight was even heading into the final round when Pascal scored a clutch knockdown to take the newspaper decision in the most exciting fight of the night.

Pascal trained with Benny Bass. Bass would eventually become a two-division world champion, but at this point in their careers, it wasn't obvious which Benny would achieve greatness. Bass had turned pro three years before Pascal and on April 5, Bass, nicknamed "Little Fish," had to back out of an encounter with Billy Hines. Pascal stepped in and "trounced" the far-more experienced Hines for the second time in three weeks.

On July 23, Pascal was slated to take on Ralph Repman, the hottest prospect in Philadelphia at the time. One reporter described Pascal as "a polished, hard-hitting scrapper" and thought he would give Repman a tough fight. The day before the contest, Repman begged off due to illness, and Pascal fell in the eighth round to late-replacement Eddie Ochs, a respected veteran of the ring. Benny was floored in the sixth, seventh, and eighth rounds.

Pascal failed to show up for a fight in September and was briefly suspended by the New Jersey state athletic commission. Pascal was stopped for the second time in October. He grabbed a newspaper decision victory before the end of the year.

Starting on January 1, 1924, decisions were legalized in Pennsylvania. The referee was the lone arbiter for shorter bouts. Pascal celebrated the change with decision victories on the first two days of the year, both in six-rounders. He rounded out January with a good win over Sammy Schiff. After a draw in March, Pascal dropped a decision against Johnny Green, a quality fighter from New York and a fellow Jew. Still, Pascal was well-regarded.

On March 21, a pundit wrote that Pascal is "a bantamweight who has been creating a sensation in the Quaker City during recent months and has been frequently mentioned by the Philadelphia sports writers as a strong contender for the bantamweight crown." It would signify the pinnacle of Pascal's boxing career.

Though he fought until 1928, Pascal would earn only one more win during his rest of his career. Following the Green loss, Pascal dropped two more decisions before deciding on a change of scenery. Pascal made his California debut on June 7, 1924 and came away with a draw. This was California's four-round era when longer bouts were outlawed.

Pascal fought regularly throughout the summer, and received some unfavorable decisions. On July 20, he traveled down to Tijuana, Mexico and beat Kid Sunday in a six-rounder. It was his third fight of the week and would be his final victory. Mickey Flynn knocked out Benny in August in Tijuana. Pascal's next fight would not be until the following February when he would face his toughest opponent.

On January 1, 1925, California began allowing decisions for fights up to ten rounds. Pascal was scheduled to face Jackie Fields in a six-rounder on February 5 at the Armory in Pasadena. A precocious 16 year old phenom, Fields was the reigning Olympic featherweight gold medalist, having won the title in Paris, France the previous July. Technically, Fields, a fellow Jew who was making his long anticipated debut, shouldn't have been allowed to turn pro. Fields became the youngest ever boxer to win Olympic gold- a record that still stands- two years shy of the minimum age California required of professional boxers. But Fields was too popular to punish.

Ultimately, Benny would gain plaudits from the pundits for a game performance against Fields, but in reality, he was thoroughly outboxed and hit the canvas in the fifth round. He fought three more times over the next two months, two losses and a draw, before heading back home.

Pascal took off a year and four months before getting stopped in a six-rounder in Pennsylvania. Four months later, he fought and lost the only ten-rounder of his career. His final fight was a newspaper draw in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 12, 1928. His record including newspaper decisions was something like 26-23-7. He was 21 years old.

As the Great Depression began, Pascal could be found in Jacksonville, Florida working as an awning maker. He was one of ten boarders staying at the house of Mila Kile, a 52 year old widow from Illinois. Though his birth certificate lists his name as Benjamin, Pascal began to go by Bernard.

During the 1930s, he moved back with his parents in Philadelphia where he worked in the clothing business trying to make ends meet. He soon married Bessie Schwartz. The couple had two children, Charlotte and Annette. By 1950, Pascal was a carpenter and had his own place with his wife and daughters. He later owned a meat store.

Benny Pascal died on June 9, 1976 at the age of 69. He was survived by his wife Bessie, daughters Charlotte, and Annette, three siblings, and three grandchildren.

"Danny Kramer K.O.s Frankie Rice." Harrisburg Telegraph. Apr. 6, 1923. Pg. 25.
"Gill and Smith in Next Boxing Show." York Daily Record. Jul. 16, 1923. Pg. 9.
“Jackie Fields Defeats Pascal in Pasadena Go.” Los Angeles Times. Pg. B1.
"Obituaries." Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Jun. 25, 1976.
"Ochs Kayoes Pascal." Lancaster New Era. Jul. 24, 1923. Pg. 10.
"Roach Breaks Ankle in Fifth in Airport Go." Press of Atlantic City. Sep. 15, 1923. Pg. 10.
“Sam Blackiston to Clash with Joe Leitz.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. Nov 1, 1922. Pg. 9.
“Thirty-Six Rounds on Program for Next Boxing Show on Mar. 31.” Shamokin News-Dispatch. Mar 21, 1924. Pg. 6.
Personal information from his birth certificate, and the U.S. Censuses of 1930, 1940, and 1950. Some aspects of his career from BoxRec.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Lev Jackson to Fight in December

Southpaw lightweight Lev Jackson is scheduled to fight on December 1 at the Taj Park Convention Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. The show is promoted by Bisla Boxing.

Jackson is a 31 year old with a record of 3-1-1 (one KO). This fight is basically a home game for Lev. Surrey, which borders the United States, is very close to his hometown of Vancouver.

No opponent has been named and the number of rounds has yet to be announced. Jackson last fought on July 20. He won a six-rounder by majority decision over Luis Prieto.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Cletus Seldin Wins Rough Fight by TKO

Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin earned a hard-fought TKO when he stopped Patrick “Yam Mallet” Okine in the sixth round tonight at Sony Hall in New York, New York, USA on a card promoted by Boxing Insider. Ending a two-year layoff, Seldin admitted, “The fight to get into this ring was so hard. I had so much emotion all day.”

Seldin made an appearance ringside to greet his parents about three hours before the fight. With twenty minutes until the opening bell, the “Hamma Heads,” Seldin’s legion of faithful fans, bellowed, “Hammer! Hammer!” in anticipation.

When the fight arrived, Okine was loose, dancing to the ring as Terminator by King Promise blared over the sound system. By contrast, Seldin seemed pumped and tightly wound.

Both men opened the bout with fireworks. Seldin attacked the body with rights while Okine launched dangerous left hooks. Okine’s left hook was almost the story of the fight.

In the second, the Ghanaian began to retreat to the ropes, another significant feature of the fight. Cletus couldn’t quite take advantage and Okine fought well off the ropes and out of the corner. Seldin ducked a left hook, but Patrick dipped and came up with a concussive right. That and a late left hook helped Okine carry the round.

By the third, the story mostly seemed set. A fatigued Seldin continued to bore his way forward. Okine kept retreating only to connect with hurtful left hooks. Cletus blocked many of them, keeping his right glove by his cheek, but enough got in to cause swelling around his right eye.

The fourth saw Patrick add a slight hesitation to his left hook, which threw off Seldin’s defensive timing. The New Yorker took the fifth when Okine spent some time running. Fans ringside felt Seldin was in trouble as his face continued to swell and Okine shoe-shined a couple times while trapped in the corner. The truth was Okine was fading, just as he had in his previous big fights.

Okine started the sixth strong with more fully-leveraged left hooks. At the exact moment Cletus looked to be in trouble, he unleashed two right hands that sent Okine tumbling to the canvas. Seldin next used his left Grant glove to smash Okine while the latter was on the ropes. Ref Ricky Gonzalez leapt in to stop the fight and save Okine from further damage.

Seldin advances to 27-1 with 23 KOs. Okine is now 22-6-2 with 19 KOs. Of all the well wishes Cletus received before the fight, he said one stuck out, “Win for Israel.”

Promoter Larry Goldberg joked that fans came to see the only Jewish boxer and the only Jewish promoter in the country. Other dignitaries at the fight included Hall of Fame promoter and matchmaker Russell Peltz, the estimable scribe Thomas Hauser, and legendary heavyweight great Larry Holmes.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Cletus Seldin and Patrick Okine Weigh In

Cletus Seldin and Patrick Okine weighed in ahead of their clash tomorrow night at Sony Hall in New York, New York, United States. Seldin-Okine will be featured on a show promoted by Boxing Insider.

Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs) came in at 142.4 pounds. This is well within his normal range. The lightest Cletus has come in for a fight has been 138.3 pounds. He weighed that for his bout against Zab Judah in 2019. The heaviest Cletus has weighed in was 148. He did that in his second and third pro fights. Seldin made the 140-pound junior welterweight limit in his last three fights as they were all for the NABA strap.

Okine (22-5-2, 19 KOs) tipped the scales at 137.2 pounds. The heaviest he has weighed for a fight was 139 pounds, which he last did in March. Of his recorded weights, the lightest he has been is 126, which he last did in 2012 against Lee Selby.

A five pound advantage is noteworthy at this weight. It is among several advantages Seldin holds heading into the fight. But Okine is a dangerous puncher as he showed in his last fight on September 9. Against a novice opponent, Okine earned a second round KO at the famed Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra, Ghana.

This bout is scheduled for eight rounds. For a full preview, click here.

Courtesy of Boxing Insider

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Introducing Lev Jackson

Southpaw Lev Jackson is an all-action brawler from East Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In six pro fights, the 31 year old has amassed a record of 3-1-1 with one no contest and one KO. He turned pro in 2019. After a two and a half year layoff, his career has revved up since November of 2021.

Jackson first became infatuated with boxing after watching Rocky as a kid. A precocious teenager, he became a boxing writer and covered local fights for various outlets. Lev starting training at 15 with the support of his mother.

The road hasn't been easy for Jackson. A two-time Canadian amateur featherweight champ, he has found success in the ring despite battling Crohn's disease. Because of the disease, he had to stop boxing for three years on doctor's orders. So, Lev temporarily joined the world of professional wresting.

After Jackson won his debut, he came away with a draw in his second fight. In his next bout, Lev slammed a right hook into Herman Cheuk's chin in the second round of their fight in July of 2022. Cheuk staggered back to the ropes and Jackson followed up, forcing the referee to stop the contest.

Aggressive southpaw volume punchers are rarer than a shy Jehovah's Witness, but Lev Jackson has created his own mold. Against the far more experienced Mario Victorino Vera last October, Jackson started the fight like he was "shot out of a cannon." It was his first six-rounder and he couldn't sustain his eye-popping activity. He dropped the decision.

An accidental headbutt last March halted the fight against Elroy Fruto when Jackson took the worst of the collision. Jackson had beaten Fruto twice in the amateurs. This past July, Lev learned from his mistakes and was far more patient in his second six-rounder. He earned a decision victory over Luis Prieto.

Jackson works with coaches Junior Moar and JY Kim. To compensate for Crohn's disease, he feels he has to train much harder than his opponents do. Fueled by hard work, Lev looks to follow in the footsteps of the many great Jewish Canadian boxers who have come before him.