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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Preview of Cletus Seldin vs. Jose Angulo

Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight Jose Angulo on March 15 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, USA. The card is being promoted by Tom Loeffler's 360 Promotions.

Seldin is a 37 year old puncher whose record is 27-1 with 23 knockouts. His best win might be an eleventh round knockout victory over Zab Judah to capture the NABA junior welterweight title back in 2019. Seldin then fought only twice over the next four years. This will be the Hebrew Hammer's second fight in five months, a welcomed increase in activity. In October, he knocked out Patrick Okine in a slugfest.

A 27 year old with a record of 16-7 (9 KOs), Jose Angulo is the junior welterweight champion of Ecuador. He is 16-0 in his home country and 0-7 in the United States, including the territory of Puerto Rico. In Ecuador, he has only faced three winning opponents and those three combined for a mediocre 18-12-3 record. In the United States, his opponents were a combined 75-4-1 when Angulo faced them (not including Seldin). Angulo fought twice on ShoBox, home to top prospects through the years. Some of his other losses were to former world champion Alberto Machado and two well-regarded prospects Ernesto Merchado and Cain Sandoval.

Because of his uneven record, it's hard to rate Angulo. Perhaps his most enlightening fight came on ShoBox against Alejandro Guerrero, who was 11-0 when they fought in 2020. Angulo was competitive and lost by majority decision. Guerrero has since lost four straight.

Angulo has the tools to beat Cletus Seldin. Jose is athletic with quick feet. He has the ability to box and move, a style which could negate Seldin's power. The problem for Angulo is he never boxes and moves for more than a few brief moments at a time. Instead, he tends to stand in punching range with his left low and throw hard two and three punch combinations. Angulo falls into lulls too often and just covers up. He almost never tries to counter his opponent's attack, and his jab doesn't serve much purpose.

Jose Angulo is from the coastal town of Guayaquil and has fought many times in Ecuador's mountainous capital city of Quito, so he's likely endured the ten-hour bus ride down the ten thousand-foot Andean mountain range. That means he oozes courage. The Ecuadorian has a decent chin, but his punch resistance has been known to fade significantly throughout fights, resulting in four stoppage losses. He withstood many clean shots from Guerrero, but Alberto Machado beat him down by the eighth.

If Angulo can stick and move all fight, he's got a chance to nick a decision, but his low left, lack of counter punching, and willingness to cover up when receiving incoming fire all formulate a recipe for a Cletus Seldin knockout victory.

This bout is scheduled for eight rounds, but if Angulo doesn't box, look for it to end in the fourth or fifth.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Josh Feldman to Fight in March

Junior middleweight Josh Feldman is scheduled to fight on March 8 at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa. The 19 year old from Cape Town is 2-0.

Feldman, a southpaw, won both of his fights by decision. He is fluid, throws hard combinations, and is defensively responsible. His next step is to build his attack throughout the fight, which is not always easy in four-rounders.

In preparation for his third pro fight, Feldman has been training with another 2-0 South African prospect named Owen Venganayi. No opponent has been named for the March 8 contest.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Stefi Cohen to Fight in March

Dr. Stefanie Cohen is scheduled on fight on March 1 at Tropical Park Equestrian Center in Miami, Florida, USA. The card is promoted by Mundo Boxing.

The are a few interesting notes surrounding this bout. Cohen has been training with her old coach Dr. Pedro Diaz. She had linked up with Pedro Santiago when she moved to Southern California. Both are good trainers although Diaz is more known in the sport.

Under Diaz's tutelage, Cohen mostly boxed behind her jab at range. Because of her short stature, impressive strength as a world record-holding powerlifter, and late start in boxing, it probably makes more sense for her to be a mauler who roughs up her opponents on the inside. It's a credit to Cohen and her coaches that she has made so much progress with her technique, but it feels like trying to reinvent the wheel.

This fight is scheduled to take place in the super bantamweight division (122 pounds), which seems like a good fit for Cohen. She cut all the way down to flyweight (112 pounds) for her last fight, which couldn't have been easy.

She is scheduled to take part in a six-rounder, which would be her longest bout. She has struggled with stamina issues in several four-rounders throughout her career, so the jump up in rounds before showing she can sustain an attack for four rounds could be presumptuous. Cohen's stamina issues have come in fights where she has been 118 pounds or below, so the higher weight could serve to rectify concerns about her endurance.

This bout marks Cohen's seventh career fight. She last fought in June and has been in the ring twice each year since she turned pro in 2021. The 31 year old started boxing in her late twenties, so more activity in the ring is the best way to overcome her late start. Of course, it must be understood it isn't easy for fighters to get on a card regularly these days. Last fall, Cohen trained with legends Carolina Duer and Yesica Bopp as well as prospect Lupita Medina. Stefi has been getting good work, but sparring isn't the same as fighting.

Cohen is managed by her significant other Tristan Hamm, which might be the most treif name there is. Hamm, an outdoor influencer from Canada, knocked out a Logan Paul lookalike last Saturday on a Misfits card. Incidentally, Boxrec lists Misfits boxing as something distinct from professional boxing. Hopefully, Cohen's opponent on March 1 is a fighter the caliber she has faced thus far and not a lookalike.

No opponent has been announce for Cohen as of yet.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Eric Seelig Elected to Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame

Erich "Eric" Seelig was elected to the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame in the pioneer category as part of its 2024 class. Seelig began boxing professionally at the age of 21 in 1931. Eleven months into his career, he won the German middleweight title. A month after Hitler gained power in 1933, and a day before the Reichstag fire, Seelig won the German light heavyweight title. The Nazis soon stripped him of his titles and sent him into exile. That expulsion ultimately saved his life.

Seelig fled to France where he lost two decisions to Marcel Thil, but otherwise performed well. In 1935, Seelig immigrated to the United States. A top contender, he lost close decisions to Billy Conn and Fred Apostoli. Eric received a shot at the world middleweight title in 1939. The champion, Al Hostak, stopped him in one. Seelig's best win was a seventh round TKO victory in 1935 over an older Mickey Walker, a legendary two-division world champion.

After he retired from boxing 1940, Eric moved to Atlantic City with his wife where he trained fighters. He passed away in 1984. Seelig is also a member of the the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1992) and the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame (1999).
Erich Seelig
Other Jewish inductees include Sampson Lewkowicz, Randy Gordon, and Jay Larkin, who were all elected in the special contributor category this year for the Atlantic City Hall.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Review of Murder on Federal Street

Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, Fixed Fights, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing
By Sean Nam

Pretty southpaw Tyrone Everett was the talk of South Philadelphia during the 1970s. Seemingly a future champion who vacillated between outboxing his opponents and standing in the pocket and knocking them out, Everett's life was snuffed out in the house of one of his girlfriends, a woman who happened to be the estranged wife of a Black Mafia leader. The girlfriend, Carolyn McKendrick, allegedly pulled the trigger in a jealous rage although some close to the case believe she took the fall for more powerful figures who were actually to blame for the murder.

In Murder on Federal Street, Nam does a masterful job recounting Everett's career. Torn between his reality as a local star and his aspirations of world fame, Everett is a complicated and imperfect man, one who lived a thought-provoking life. The writing is superb and the research intricate and illuminating. The shorter sections on race relations in Philadelphia and the role of the Black Mafia in the city provide excellent context. If there's anything to quibble about this book, it's that those sections could have been woven into Tyrone Everett's story a little tighter.

The truth is, there is virtually nothing to criticize. Nam uses high-minded references and an elevated vocabulary that would make a professor of literature reach for a thesaurus, but impressively manages to create an unpretentious and effortless read. The topics of murder and the mafia lend themselves to sensationalist coverage, but Nam treats them with empathy and humanity.

Throughout his career, Everett had a close relationship with his manager, Frank Gelb, but a frostier one with his promoter Russell Peltz, both of whom are Jewish and act as main characters in the drama. Though not Jewish himself, Everett wore a Star of David on his trunks in several of his fights. Nam concludes he did so to channel the popularity of his rival Bennie Briscoe. Briscoe, who fought in a much higher weight class but often received top billing above Everett, wore a Star of David on his trunks to honor his manager. Yiddish words are not only sprinkled into the narrative, but thankfully are used appropriately. Nam even scores a rare interview with former world champion Mike Rossman.

Murder on Federal Street is a fascinating story and a fantastically written book. It's highly recommended reading for any boxing fan, particularly those interested the sport's history in Philadelphia or during the 1970s.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Mike Silver's Top 5 Jewish Boxers since 1960

Mike Silver's Top 5 Jewish Boxers since 1960

Mike Silver is perhaps the most knowledgeable person on the planet about Jewish boxing history. His book Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing is one of the seminal works on the subject. He curated the exhibit "Sting Like A Maccabee: The Golden Age of the American Jewish-Boxer" at The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and co-curated the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's centerpiece program, "Jews, Boxing & Hollywood." His other two books The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science and The Night the Referee Hit Back: Memorable Moments from the World of Boxing are both extremely well-regarded as well. Silver has also written for The Ring, the New York Times, and Boxing Monthly among many other publications.

This terrific list covers the period of Mike Silver's interest in boxing. For an in depth profile of this great historian, see "The Lasting Legacy of Boxing Historian Mike Silver."

1. Alphonse Halimi
2. Mike Rossman
3. Saoul Mamby
4. Fabrice Benichou
5. Felix Brami

Honorable mentions: Nessim Max Cohen, Gary Jacobs, Yuri Foreman, David Oved, Dmitriy Salita, Sauveur Benamou.

Other Top 5s
Jewish South African Boxers
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, January 12, 2024

Odelia Ben Ephraim Off January 27 Card

French featherweight champion Odelia Ben Ephraim is out of a scheduled fight against European featherweight champion Sheila Martinez. Ben Ephraim is experiencing hand issues and won't heal in time for the January 27 fight. Martinez is now scheduled to defend the title against Annaelle Angerville on that date in San Vicente del Raspeig, Spain.

Ben Ephraim's injury comes at an inopportune time as she matched up well against Martinez. The European champ is tall, long, awkward, and fights rough. The 25 year old from Spain has no qualms about shoving her forearm into an opponent's face. Martinez has improved dramatically in her last two fights though, evolving from a crude brawler to a boxer who uses her height and reach advantages to better effect. Her technique is far from textbook and her footwork is poor, but her unconventional style does make for some punches from unexpected angles. Nevertheless, the champ is quite hittable, and with Ben Ephraim's precision accuracy and intelligent combinations, Martinez would have been in trouble.

Instead of Ben Ephraim, Martinez will now defend her title against former French featherweight champion, Annaelle Angerville, a 34 year old who was a world champion in Muay Thai. Angerville barely snuck by Ben Ephraim in their two fights, the most recent taking place a year ago. That bout was for the vacant French featherweight title, which Angerville won by split decision. If Angerville beats Martinez, another fight against Ben Ephraim could make for a high-level defense, but she may not want to tempt fate with a third match against her compatriot.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Cletus Seldin to Fight in March

Cletus "Hebrew Hammer" Seldin is scheduled to fight on March 15 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York, New York, USA according to BoxRec. With a record of 27-1, Seldin is a 37 year old power puncher from Long Island. He boasts 23 KOs.

In his last two fights, Seldin has relied on impressive knockouts to win fights that were close. In 2021, Seldin was getting outboxed by William Silva until the Hammer adjusted his style and scored a knockout in the seventh round. Last October, Cletus was in a tough fight against another puncher, Patrick Okine, as both guys launched bombs at one another. With his face swollen and marked up, Seldin stopped the show in the sixth.

The Jewish Boxing Blog had Seldin up three rounds to two at the time of the Okine stoppage, but he was absorbing a lot of punishment to that point. At the end of the fifth round, a heckler in the second row yelled, "It's not as easy as you thought, Cletus!" Just before Seldin landed the knockout blow, an intoxicated white fan from Connecticut who was seated in the front row declared, "White boy's about to get knocked out!"

Unbeknownst to the heckler, Cletus knew Okine could bang. Before the fight, Seldin told The JBB, "He's a hell of a puncher. He throws big crazy shots." Cletus did admit after the fight that he didn't expect Okine to hit quite that hard. Likewise, the inebriated fan didn't know that Okine had suffered from stamina issues throughout his career while Seldin is a fitness freak and finishes strong.

Since becoming a promotional free agent last year, Seldin has been more active. From February 2020 until last October- a period of over three and half years- Cletus fought once, the Silva fight. The fight in March would be his second in five months. His fight against Okine was on a Boxing Insider show. The March bout is promoted by 360 Promotions.

Seldin told The JBB on January 25 that he is officially on the card. His bout is scheduled for eight rounds in the junior welterweight division. BoxRec lists an opponent, but Seldin there's nothing official yet.

Cletus Seldin battled Patrick Okine on October 10, 2023 at Sony Hall

Monday, January 8, 2024

Mor Oknin to Fight in Mexico City

Flyweight Mor Oknin told The Jewish Boxing Blog that he plans to fight in either February or March in Mexico City, Mexico. This would be Oknin's fourth pro fight, all in the flyweight-rich country of Mexico.

Oknin is from Netanya, Israel and of Moroccan ancestry. In an interview with May Samra of Enlace Judío, Mor revealed that he suffered from throat cancer at the age of 19. Fortunately, he beat the disease, but it took away three years from his career. The experience made him more religious. Oknin does not fight or weigh-in on Shabbat and keeps kosher, which can be a challenge when he visits Mexico.

A decorated amateur, Oknin has had some unsanctioned bouts in Israel since his pro career started nearly three years ago. A combination of the global pandemic and cancelled fights have slowed his progress, which has disrupted his rhythm in the ring.

Now in his 30s, Mor spends his days training, working at his father's furniture store, and offering private boxing lessons. Oknin has high aspirations, but to achieve his dreams, he must find a way to fight regularly. He'd like nothing better.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Joey Kaufman: The Coney Island Flash

Joey Kaufman was the type of guy boxing needs to survive as a sport. He fought at least 140 times as a professional during his career, which lasted from 1923-1934. Many of those contests were curtain raisers on the undercards of big fights. He fought in swing bouts and substitute scraps. He came in as a late replacement. Kaufman was like the small intestine: essential if not spectacular, a gatekeeper dispensing of riffraff.

Josef Kaufman was born on December 6, 1905. Some sources say he was born in Moscow, Russian Empire, from where much of the Jewish population of the city was banished to the Pale of Settlement in the west during the 1890s. Fewer than 10,000 Jews remained in the city by the time of Joey's birth. Kaufman's father, Benjamin, immigrated to the United States on June 10, 1909. He listed his place of birth as Bessarabia, a southern region within the Pale. Benjamin worked as a baker and as a clothes presser. Joey and his mother Gussie followed across the Atlantic in 1912.

The family initially lived on Second Avenue in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Joey's siblings- Anna (Annie), Bertha (Birdie), Martin (Marty), and Pearl- were born in New York, but all spoke Yiddish at home. The Kaufmans remained in Manhattan until at least 1920. The family would eventually move to the Bronx, albeit without Joey, who found his way to Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Kaufman was 17 years old and standing 5'5" when he turned pro. He started out in East Chicago, Indiana of all places. In his third pro fight, he took on the vastly more experienced Ray Miller, a talented Jew from Chicago who possessed a punishing left hook. Kaufman managed to last the six-round distance in a loss. His first fight in his hometown came in March of 1924.

Joey fought constantly, maintaining a level of activity no longer possible. He entered the ring at least 25 times in 1925, including back-to-back days on June 18 & 19. That year, Kaufman was described as "one of the speediest youngsters developed in some time." But he never packed a powerful punch. In his 140 bouts (or more), he recorded only five knockouts. He typically faced high-level opponents, who are less likely to get knocked out, but his style also produced fewer knockouts. Though skillful, Kaufman wasn't known as a great defensive fighter either, but he was absurdly tough. Altogether, it was a style that made him tremendously popular in Brooklyn.

The Ring magazine rated Kaufman as the fifteenth best junior lightweight in the world at the start of 1926 and placed him as the thirteenth best lightweight in its February 1928 issue. It was likely a case of New York bias as Kaufman was never quite on that level. His best results included draws with a young Bruce Flowers, Marty Silvers, Cannonball Eddie Martin, and Nat Arno. His best wins were over Bobby Mays, Frankie LaFay, and Phil McGraw by DQ. He also notched a win and two draws against Armand Schaekels. Of the bunch, only Martin ever held a title and Kaufman fought a faded version of the champ, who had relinquished his belt six years earlier.

Against the next level up, Kaufman always lost. He took on the likes of Cowboy Eddie Anderson, Charlie Rosen, Billy Wallace, Charlie O'Connell, Manuel Quintero, Henri Dewancker, Harry Devine, and Joey Medill, falling to all of them on points. Flowers and Mays scored victories over Kaufman in rematches. When he fought the very best, things went badly for Kaufman.

On June 1, 1927, he took on hotshot prospect and reigning Olympic featherweight champion Jackie Fields. Fields was clearly several classes above the overmatched Kaufman. Jackie dominated every round, knocking down Joey once and nearly stopping him, yet the New York writers criticized Fields for not finishing the job. The ten-round decision loss against a future two-time welterweight world champion was a better result than his third round DQ loss for low blows against future junior welterweight champion Johnny Jadick two years later.

Later in 1929, veteran Ruby Goldstein battered Kaufman for eight rounds, flooring him in the fifth. When referee Arthur Donovan stopped the fight in the eighth, a bloody Kaufman vigorously argued to keep going. The Coney Island Flash was out in a flash four months later against top contender King Tut. The fight lasted only fifty seconds. A month later, Kaufman couldn't answer the bell to start the fifth round against Tommy Grogan.

On February 25, 1931 reigning lightweight world champion Tony Canzoneri demolished Kaufman in an over-the-weight bout. In just two minutes and one second of fighting, Canzoneri knocked Kaufman down seven times. The true measure of Joey Kaufman is that, after being knocked down six times with all hope lost against a far superior foe: he got up... and fought on.

Kaufman fought on for three more years, losing more than he won. He dropped a six-round decision to future junior welterweight world champion Frankie Klick. Joey's last fight came on July 6, 1934 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a TKO loss, his sixth defeat in a row. Kaufman's record was something like 44-77-23.

In 1929, he married Freda Stone. The couple lived in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn where Joey became a clothing salesman after his boxing career finished. In 1941, Kaufman filed for bankruptcy, claiming no assets and $4,421 in liabilities. He later bought a café.

Kaufman's death  has been listed as either 1961 or 1956, but news reports of the era indicate he passed on June 16, 1952. Joey was only 45 years old.

Though not a champion nor a world class boxer, Joey Kaufman will forever be remembered as one of "the fistic toasts of Coney Island." A teflon-tough man with speedy hands, taken too soon.

“Al Mello Takes Beating from Nebraska Boy.” Los Angeles Daily News. June 2, 1927. Pg. 18.
Ain, Barney. "Sports Parade." The Williamsberg News. Aug, 11, 1961. Pg. 2.
"Business Records." New York Times. Apr. 23, 1941. Pg. 31.
Dawson, James P. "Goldsten Stops Kaufman in 8th." New York Times. Aug. 17, 1929. Pg. 14.
"Italian Joe Gans Seeks National Guard Title." The Brooklyn Standard Union. Oct. 7, 1925. Pg. 15.
“Rickard’s Rankings Create Surprise.” New York Times. Jan. 15, 1926. Pg. 25.
Salerno, Al. "Brooklyn and Broadway Night Life." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Jun. 18, 1952. Pg. 11.
"Tony Canzoneri Puts Down Joe Kaufman Seven Times to Win." The Brooklyn Citizen. Feb 26, 1931. Pg. 6.
Wilson, Earl. "Thurber Blasts 'Blatherskites'." The Times Recorder. Jun. 21, 1952. Pg. 6.
Wood, James. J. “Ace Only One of his Kind Now Swinging Gloves.” The Brooklyn Daily Times. June 2, 1927. Pg. 57.
Personal information comes from the 1920 and 1930 U.S. censuses and Kaufman's marriage certificate. Addition information from the Hank Kaplan Archives at Brooklyn College.