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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ben Ephraim and Cohen to Speak on Jewish Boxers

Odelia Ben Ephraim and Mike Cohen will be featured speakers at a conference about Jewish boxers at the musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris, France on June 19. The event will be hosted by Joseph Hirsh.

The discussion will touch on French Jewish boxers, many of whom originated in North Africa. Cohen, a former French kickboxing champion, is the nephew of one such fighter, Bill Jo Cohen. World champions Victor "Young" Perez, Robert Cohen, and Alphonse Halimi have been among the many great Jewish fighters from the region.

Ben Ephraim (5-2) is the French featherweight champion. Her next fight is a title defense on June 7 against Narymane Benloucif. Cohen is now a trainer who guides the career of French amateur champion Benny Nizard, a 1-0 19 year old Jewish fighter.

Ben Ephraim's father David, a longtime boxing coach, created his top 5 Jewish French boxers for The JBB. The top 5 Jewish North African boxers was compiled by Ron Schneck.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Review of The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame

The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame
By John DiSanto
Arcadia, 2024

The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame is not an exclusive club. Started in 1958, the names of fighters with modest and even losing records sit beside those of former world champions. Rather than a reward for an elite career, the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame is a celebration of the breadth of the sport in the state. 

Author John DiSanto's dedication to keeping Pennsylvania boxing history alive as the head of PhillyBoxingHistory, curator of museum exhibits, and chairman of the PBHOF, is inspiring. His third book, The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame, features fascinating pictures and brief biographies of about half of the many members in the Hall.

DiSanto begins with an illuminating introduction detailing the Hall's journey. From overwhelmingly white and primarily focused on a fighter's popularity, the author has helped guide the PBHOF to a more racially representative and merit-based institution.

The rest of the book is organized into five categories: world champions and International Boxing Hall of Famers, world title challengers, regional and state champs, local heroes, and non-boxers. Within each category, the Hall of Famers are organized alphabetically, which makes the book an accessible reference. The members could have been organized chronologically or by weight class, which would have made for a more cohesive narrative but diminished its value as an easily-useable resource.

Jewish world champions Benny Bass, Battling Levinsky, Harry Lewis, and Mike Rossman, along with IBHOFers Lew Tendler  and promoter Russell Peltz are among the greats that grace the first chapter. World title challenger Danny Kramer makes an appearance. So does local hero Harry Blitman. Harry "Kid" Brown and Benny Kaufman are noted simply in the complete list of members at the end.

The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame is a terrific representation of the talent that has come out of the Keystone State, particularly the fighting cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The pictures of boxers from long ago- and not so long ago- are captivating. It's well-worth it for fans of Harry Greb, Joe Frazier, and the countless other notable boxers who have plied their trade just north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Kapuler Advances in Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament

In the final qualifier for the 2024 Olympics, Miroslav Kapuler and Yan Zak have made the round of 32 in their respective weight classes.

Junior middleweight Kapuler faces Tiago Muxanga, a 23 year old from Mozambique, on May 28 in the afternoon session (Bangkok, Thailand time). Muxanga has some quality experience in the amateur ranks for a young guy. Kapuler beat Carl Hield 5-0 in the round of 64. Muxanga stopped his opponent in the first round.

Heavyweight Yan Zak next fights on May 30 in the afternoon session. Hefaces the gigantic Mucahit Ilyas of Turkey who had a bye. Zak beat Malcolm Preston Matthes 4-1.A southpaw, Matthes led with his head costing him two points. Zak suffered a cut by his right eye when Matthes initiated a butt in the second round.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Yonatan Landman to Fight in June

Flyweight Yonatan Landman is scheduled to fight Habib Lartey on June 15 at Bukum Boxing Arena in Accra, Ghana. BoxRec lists the fight as a bantamweight contest.

A native of Kiryat, Israel, Landman turned pro in January and is 2-0 with two KOs. A skilled boxer trained by his father, Yonatan is still getting his feet wet in the pro game. The ginger-haired warrior last fought in March at Bukom where he scored a second round KO against Simon Tackie.

Habib Lartey lost his only pro fight back in November. On the positive side, he has fast hands and fleet feet. Lartey's defeat came at the hands of Olympian Sulemanu Tetteh, a skilled and poised fighter. On the negative side, Lartey exhibits atrocious punch technique, particularly when he throws the right. Instead of punching with the right, it looks as if he's swatting at flies. Against Tetteh, Lartey inexplicably quit after the second round and then paraded around the ring congratulating himself.

The Ghanaian has a wild and awkward style. His awkwardness is offensively ineffective, but it could actually stymie the attack of Landman, who has sparred technicians such as David Alaverdian. Lartey keeps his hands down on the outside, a move more out of bravado than an attempt to set up counters. He rushes in face first while he throws wild shots. Tetteh, who was used to fighting world class amateurs, controlled the fight but did seem unsettled by Lartey's unorthodox technique.

Landman-Lartey is scheduled for six rounds.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Chilemba Stopped in Second

Isaac Chilemba suffered his tenth career defeat when Aleksei Papin knocked him out in the second round of their cruiserweight fight at Ledovaya (Ice) Arena in Balashikha, Russia. Chilemba initially fought well, but Papin's weight and power advantages proved too much to overcome.

At yesterday's weigh-in, Chilemba tipped the scales at 184.3 pounds, the second heaviest of his career. Papin stood 199.5 pounds, around his normal weight.

Chilemba began the fight cautiously and ceded control of the center to Papin. The Malawian used stab jabs to the head and body while adroitly ducking Papin's counter attempts. The Russian struggled to figure out Chilemba's shoulder roll defense while Isaac added straight rights to the head and body by the end of the round.

Isaac won the first, but ominous clouds swirled over the round. Papin only landed a couple of jabs, but they physically pushed Chilemba a couple of steps backwards. It was clear Chilemba needed to be perfect for eight rounds just for the Russian judges to rip him off while Papin only needed to land the right shot to close the show.

Chilemba threw clever combinations to start the second round, but he didn't possess the power to dissuade Papin's punches. Isaac blocked a right, but the force of the blow knocked him backwards. Chilemba soon fell to the ropes, an ugly bit of foreshadowing for the veteran. He managed to get out of dodge that time, but his good fortune wouldn't last long.

In center ring, Papin launched a right uppercut-left hook combination that wobbled Chilemba. Isaac stammered back as Papin shot a hard right behind the ear. Isaac collapsed into the ropes while Papin followed. He repeatedly looped rights that were mostly blocked by Chilemba's left arm, so Papin adjusted. He went back to the right uppercut-left hook combination that started the trouble for Chilemba. That proved to be right move.

Chilemba had only been stopped once before in his career and that was due to an injury against Olexandr Gvozdyk. The combination cut Chilemba down to the canvas and the fight was quickly stopped. Regardless, Isaac couldn't have beaten the count.

Chilemba is now 27-10-3 with 11 KOs. Papin is now 17-1 (1 no contest) with 16 KOs.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Two Jewish Pros to Compete in Final Olympic Qualifier

David AIaverdian and Miroslav Kapuler are scheduled to represent Israel in the final Olympic qualifier beginning tomorrow. The event, to be held in Thailand, is the last shot for boxers to make the 2024 Paris Olympics. The last Jewish boxer to fight in the Olympics was Miroslav's brother, Pavlo Ishchenko, who competed for Ukraine in 2012.

AIaverdian is 8-0-1 with 6 KOs as a pro. Professional boxers have been allowed to compete in amateur tournaments since 2016. David will fight in the flyweight (51 KG) class. He is one of 51 boxers competing for four qualifying spots. His first bout is scheduled for Saturday against Chon Ryong So of North Korea. So won bronze at last year's Asian Games.

Kapuler is a 3-0 pro. The southpaw fights in the junior middleweight division (71 KG), which has 70 boxers vying for five Olympic spots. Miroslav faces Carl Hield of the Bahamas on Sunday in the round of 64. Hield is a battletested 37 year old who is 6-0 as a pro, all in Colombia.

Yan Zak and Daniel Ilyushonok are two Israeli amateurs who will take part in the qualifying tournament. Zak is a heavyweight (92 KG). One of 42 boxers battling for three spots, Zak fights Malcolm Preston Matthes of New Zealand on Monday. Ilyonshonok fights as a light heavyweight (80 KG). Fifty four light heavies are aiming for one of four spots. Ilyushonok takes on Paul Andrei Aradoaie of Romania on Saturday.

Follow the tournament here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Odelia Ben Ephraim to Fight Narymane Benloucif

Odelia Ben Ephraim is scheduled to defend her French featherweight title against Narymane Benloucif on June 7 at Patinoire Municipale Jacques Raynaud in Blagnac, France. This bout is scheduled for eight rounds.

Ben Ephraim is a 24 year old from Blagnac. A talented artist, she won the vacant French title in November against Lydie Bialic to improve her record to 5-2. Nicknamed "Thunder," Ben Ephraim has a crowd-pleasing style in the ring. She's an accurate volume puncher who throws many well-placed combinations. Her punch output can leave her open for left hooks though.

Benloucif is a 31 year old from Toulouse. She holds a 2-1 record. After winning her debut in May of 2022, she dropped a close fight three weeks later to Melina Ainaoui by split decision. Narymane fought well, and the fight really could have gone either way. She used her height advantage to maintain distance and primarily threw long jabs and straight rights. She came forward at times, but was careful not to come too close. After nearly two years away from the ring, she won again on May 11.

Benloucif, who has yet to face an opponent with a professional win, drops her right when she jabs and doesn't bring her hands back high after unleashing them. While Ainaoui occasionally took advantage of these defensive lapses, she was usually not close enough. Ben Ephraim may try a leaping left hook if she can time it right, but she'll mostly look to fight either inside or in the pocket.

Coincidently, Benloucif helped Lydie Bialic prepare for her fight against Ben Ephraim last year. Ben Ephraim had also previously sparred Bialic. When the former sparring partners of Bialic collide on June 7, it should make for a fascinating clash of styles with the French title at stake


Monday, May 20, 2024

Isaac Chilemba to Fight Aleksei Papin on Friday

Isaac Chilemba is scheduled to fight Aleksei Papin on May 24 at the Balashikha Ice Arena in Balashikha, Russia in an eight round cruiserweight bout. Papin represents an especially difficult challenge for the veteran Malawian.

Chilemba is a 37 year old based in South Africa who sports a record of 27-9-3 with 11 KOs. He last fought in October 2022 against an overmatched opponent. A slick defensive fighter, Chilemba has lost some speed as shown in relatively recent losses to Pavel Silyagin and Osleys Iglesias. His last quality performance came against Fedor Chudinov 39 months ago, a draw in which Chilemba deserved to win.

Isaac has primarily fought at super middleweight and light heavyweight. He has only fought above 180 pounds once and that was back in 2019. His average weight for his last four fights is just 170 pounds.

Meanwhile Papin is a true cruiserweight. The 36 year old former kickboxer from Reutov, Russia has fought as a heavyweight in three of his last five fights. His average weight for those fights was 202 pounds.

The weight difference is not Chilemba's only problem. Papin is 16-1 with 15 KOs, and many of those knockouts were one-punch senses-scramblers. His bulging legs were crafted from granite. Against one-time prospect Ismayl Sillakh, Papin landed a right and two left hooks that frighteningly knocked the man known as the Black Russian unconscious. Against Dilan Prasoci, left hooks to the body sapped the punch resistance of the heavyweight from Montenegro. He went down three times before the final KO blow in the second.

Papin throws a power jab, a hard left hook, and a concussive right hand. But he does have some limitations. Papin has only been past the sixth round three times, and the eighth round twice. He lost both of those longer fights though one was later changed to a no contest. Against Ilunga Makabu, Papin faded badly in a twelve rounder and dropped a majority decision, his only official loss. Last October, Soslan Asbarov landed a counter left hook to score a knockdown in the second. He used lateral movement to change angles and neutralize Papin's jab. It didn't hurt that Asbarov was also aided by performance enhancing drugs; his unanimous decision victory was later overturned.

Both fighters have a common opponent, Wilbeforce Shihepo. Early in his career, Chilemba split a pair of six-round decisions with Shihepo in 2007. Papin stopped him in the eighth round at the Floyd Mayweather Boxing Academy in Zhukovka, Russia in 2018.

Papin's combination of weight and power advantages coupled with Chilemba's age and mileage make this a dangerous fight for the Golden Boy. Chilemba will need to wear down Papin by changing angles and letting his hands go. If the fight goes to the cards, Chilemba has had no luck in Russia getting a fair shake. Yet, Chilemba is not a knockout puncher. A fight against a hard-punching cruiserweight on the road is no easy task, but Chilemba has made a career out of accepting such challenges.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Jewish Boxing in China

Jews have been in China for at least a thousand years, first forming a base in Kaifeng, a city west of Beijing and Shanghai. Merchants of all religions, including Jews, traveled the Silk Road, a network of well-worn trading routes, into China for over a millennium.

Boxing has existed in China for thousands of years, but it was used as a martial art and not as a competitive sport. At the turn of the twentieth century, a group of "boxers" staged protests against foreigners in China, a movement which quickly gained momentum. This event is often known as the Boxer Rebellion although scholars have begun to call it the Boxer Uprising, because the protestors advocated for reform within the Qing Dynasty, not a replacement of the regime. The movement was fueled by xenophobic angst, not revolutionary zeal.

The origins of boxing as a competitive sport in China date back to the 1920s. After the Qing were overthrown in 1911, China became a republic. Divisions soon emerged and a civil war between the Nationalists (GMD) and the Communists (CCP) erupted. When the Japanese imperialists attacked China in 1937, the GMD and the CCP halted their civil war to band together to fight Japan. At the conclusion of war against Japan in 1945, the civil war restarted. The CCP gained power on the mainland in 1949, which signified the end of boxing in China for several decades.

Boxing was one of the most popular sports among Jewish Russian immigrants and European Jewish refugees who lived in Shanghai during the interwar period. As Nazi persecution increased throughout the 1930s, Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria fled to Shanghai, representing a third wave of Jewish immigration to the city. By the late 1930s there were between 17,000-20,000 Jewish refugees in the city.

Jews first arrived in Harbin, located in China's northeast, in 1898. The Jewish community there soon has its own high school, hospital, and synagogue. The militant Zionist group Betar was active in the city. One member of the Harbin chapter of Betar was Mordechai Olmert, the father of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (served 2006-2007) and a future Minister of the Knesset in his own right. Mordechai, who was born in 1911 and fled with his family to Harbin to escape the Russian Revolution, was a member of the well-regarded boxing team. Both Betar, a wing of the Revisionist Zionist movement, and Maccabi, which represented moderate Zionists, had boxing teams in Harbin.

The center of Jewish boxing in China, though, was in Shanghai.

The first set of Jews to immigrate to the city were Baghdadi merchants, such as the Sassoons, who came in the late 1800s during the Qing Dynasty. The second wave were Russian Jews fleeing the chaos of the Russian Revolution, similar to the Olmerts who settled in Harbin.

Before Jewish boxing in Shanghai increased in popularity, Maurice Gecker, a Jewish fighter from Shanghai, was "highly-favored" heading into his fight against Korea's Tommy Kim, which likely took place on February 11, 1936. Before a packed crowd, young Kim "proved too fast and slippery" and won an unpopular decision as the main event of something called the Foreign "Y" Card.

Most of the boxing involving Jews began in 1939 and featured the final wave of Jews, refugees escaping the impending Holocaust. Though visas were technically required to enter Shanghai, in reality, no government in the city enforced passport control. The Jews settled in the lower class ghetto of Hongkew and its surrounding neighborhoods. By this point the Japanese had conquered Shanghai, subjugating the Chinese locals. Jewish refugees described the Chinese locals as treating the newcomers with "benign tolerance."

Shanghai was a world of contradictions to the refugees. Described as the "armpit of the world" that was "heavy with the smell of human excrement and urine," it was also an "exciting, teeming metropolis full of interesting, adventurous people, hidden treasures, and beautiful art." The lawlessness of the city allowed for gangsters such as Joe Farren and Jack Riley to thrive. These underworld figures dabbled in boxing.

The most proficient boxing trainer in Shanghai was a man named Max Buchbaum, whose surname has also been spelled Backbaum and Buchsbaum in different sources. Buchbaum, "described as a famous boxer from Berlin" shared the name of a famous post-war actor in Berlin. A couple of sources label Buchbaum as the light heavyweight champion of Germany.

After his fighting career in Germany, Buchbaum worked as a trainer for Maccabi Berlin before fleeing Nazi oppression to Shanghai.

Harry "Kid" Ruckenstein was born on December 10, 1919 in Berlin. He started boxing as a 105-pound  amateur in 1934. He was shipped by his parents to Shanghai in 1939. Ruckenstein had trouble finding a job in his new home. Buchbaum approached the kid and suggested Ruckenstein could continue his boxing career in Shanghai.

One of the best boxers in Shanghai was Sam Lewkowitz, known as the Maccabi champion of Berlin before World War II. He spent time in a concentration camp, but was one of the few Jews released. He quickly immigrated to Shanghai where he boxed under the name Sam Lewko for the International Sporting Club of Shanghai. He once knocked out a Japanese heavyweight who was brought to Shanghai with the intention of proving the Japanese were a superior nation. He also fought quality opponents from the U.S. and France.

Alfred "Lako" Kohn, was born in Berlin in 1927. He spent one day in a concentration camp before the Nazis instituted the Final Solution and sent him back home because he was too young to work in the labor camp. Because of his boxing exploits, Lako was considered a great hero to the Jewish refugees. "I had a very strong right," Kohn recalled, "I won most of my fights by knockout."

Lako Kohn taught Eric Reisman, who was born in Vienna in 1926, to box. Reisman came to Shanghai in late 1938 and boxed as an amateur for three years. He said he fought a Japanese opponent and was robbed of the decision, so he quit the sport ibn frustration.

To stage boxing matches, there needed to be officials. Max Ackerman, a former flyweight back in Austria, served as a boxing referee.

Dr. Sam Didner emigrated from Graz, Austria and arrived in Shanghai in December of 1938. Didner had had a brief boxing career in Europe. In addition to his many duties, Dr. Didner served as fight doctor in many of the refugee bouts.

On August 6, 1939 Sam Lewko was stopped in the fourth round by Leo Kubiak, who won by TKO. It was a rough night for Jewish boxers in Shanghai. Ruckenstein, who was called "Schoolboy" grabbed the lone win from a group of European Jewish refugees who fought on the card. Ruckenstein earned a points victory over Battling Fester. Ike Klein, Johnny Donat, and Little Neubeser all lost four-rounder on points.

Klein lost to Russ Grabovsky, Donat to Charlie Collaco, and Neubeser to Ting Ling. On the card, Boris Katz beat Kid Kurenberg by decision in another four-rounder. We can speculate that Grabovsky, Katz, and Kurenberg may have been Jewish, but we don't know for sure.

Kurt Wolf was another pro boxer in Shanghai. Wolf was mentioned in an interview by Robert Langer, but nothing else is known of him at this time. David Volovik Vardi, born in 1917, was another Jewish boxer in Shanghai. A member of the Shanghai Betar, he later relocated to Jerusalem.

Alfred Zunterstein, a Jew from Vienna, Austria immigrated to Shanghai in November of 1938. He had received training in boxing with Betar back in Europe, and continued to box in China. Zunterstein noted that the Jewish Recreation Club had boxing classes for youngsters. In fact, the club had 120 junior boxers. The Shanghai Jewish Recreation Club started a boxing team in 1939 with names such as Hirsch, Meyer and Schott.

Charles Klotzer, born Lothar Klotzer in Berlin, came to Shanghai in April 1939 at the age of 13. He joined the boxing team after getting beaten up by White Russians. Rolf Levine was Klotzer's boxing coach at first and then Buchbaum took over.

Ernst Schwartz, born in Vienna, was attending medical school when he had to flee due to a rise in antisemitism. Schwartz settled in Shanghai were he became a gym teacher and a boxing instructor. He stayed in China, learning the language, and eventually becoming a Buddhist monk in Nanjing.

Japan banned boxing in China in 1941. Especially in 1943-1944, food became scarce and hunger pervasive. Because the Baghdadi Jews were British citizens, the Japanese imprisoned them in internment camps. In 1943, all Jewish refugees were segregated and confined in the Hongkew ghetto. In order to leave the ghetto, Jews waited in longs lines hoping to secure a permit from the infamous Japanese official Kanoh Ghoya.

Especially when boxing returned from 1945-1949, many boxing matches took place between Jewish refugees in Shanghai and soldiers in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. Manny Fox, a Jew from Baltimore, oversaw many of the U.S. Navy fighters. Fox fought professionally from 1928-9. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1931 and served on the U.S. Pillsbury in North China at Asiatic Station after the war. Fox learned some Mandarin, Beijinghua, and Cantonese.

BoxRec lists Ruckenstein with five fights before the Japanese banned boxing. On October 10, 1946, Ruckenstein beat a Russian named Joe Young to win the welterweight title of China. Ruckenstein said he also beat fighters from the U.S., Japan, Italy, and the Philippines.

Buchbaum moved to Israel after the war and trained fighters there. He saw talent in Israel, but became frustrated with the sabras' lack of interest in the sport. Lewko immigrated to the U.S. in 1948. Kohn won the New York Golden Gloves light heavyweight that same year and lost in the finals in 1949. Ruckenstein came to the U.S. in 1949 intending to continue his boxing career, but went into the hotel business instead.

"I was very good and so were others in our group. They were really good." Lako Kohn remembered of his boxing career in Shanghai. "We had good trainers, and we trained very hard. We took enormous pride to win. All of us wore the Magen David, which was important. When you're always on the bottom and everybody spits and laughs at you, and you are finally on even keel, it was important."

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Bulletin, March-April 2005. Pg. 54.
DuPont, Robert L. Jr. "'Pride' Keeps Boxer in Shape; Manny Fox, 70, is still punching." The Sun. Apr 22., 1977.
Eber, Irene. Jewish Refugees in Shanghai 1933–1947. A Selection of Documents. 2018.
Gluckman, Ron. Ghosts of Shanghai.
French, Paul. City of Devils. 2018.
Hochstadt, Steve. Interviews with Charles Klotzer, Max Ackerman, Eric Reisman, Robert Langer, and Alfred Zunterstein. SCARAB.
Hughes. Anthony. "Sport and Jewish identity in the Shanghai Jewish Community 1938-1949."
Meng, Duosi. "Jewish Refugee Poetry in Shanghai." Thesis for University of Illinois-Chicago. 2023. Pgs. 168-169.
Reichman, Alan. Community in Exile: German Jewish Identity Development in Wartime Shanghai, 1938-1945. 2011.
Rengui, Ai. "When the Muscular Jews Came to the Far East: Jewish Sports and Physical Culture in Modern China, 1912–1949."
Rosenman, Eric. "Fighting for Jewish Pride." Detroit Jewish News. Feb 28, 1992.
Ruckenstein Obituary
"Shanghai Boxing: Jewish Lad beaten in Main Event." Feb 12, 1936. South China Morning Post. Pg. 7.
"SHANGHAI BOXING: Light-Heavyweight And Welterweight Titles CHAMPIONS OF CHINA." South China Morning Post. Aug 8, 1939. Pg. 6.
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Shichor, Yitzhak. "Betar China." 2021.
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"Veteran Jewish Boxing Champions in Israel." The Palestine Post. Jun. 8, 1949. Pg. 2.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Former World Champion Hagar Finer Returns in Exhibition Bout

Former world champion Hagar Finer returned to the ring today for the first time since 2012. The 39 year old Israeli fought Jade Smith of Sheffield, England in an exhibition bout at the Camden Boxing Club. The event was put on by Gloves & Doves, which promotes peace and coexistence in the Middle East through boxing.

In the contest, Finer pressed forward with effective combinations against her less experienced foe. It was a spirited exhibition to further a worthy message.

Initially, the event was to be held at a concert hall, but according to one source, the venue had to be changed because the concert hall allegedly wouldn't permit Israeli boxers to fight. If true, the concert hall's decision would be nothing less than short-sighted and asinine. Nationals should never be barred because of the actions of their government, especially since this show was intended to spread the message of peace in the Middle East.

This event marks the second successful show run by Gloves & Doves in the past two weeks. On April 26, Adham Kayouf and Vladimir Dedakov engaged in a highly-skilled duel when they headlined an excellent amateur show in Isfiyah, Israel.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Jews in the AP's Best Boxers of the 20th Century

In 1999, a five-member panel chose the top ten pound-for-pound fighters of the twentieth century. Benny Leonard was ranked as the eighth best fighter overall. The panel also chose the top ten fighters in eight weight divisions and the top five in two more classes.

Below are of the Jewish fighters who made the various lists, starting with the heaviest:

Maxie Rosenbloom, who held the light heavyweight world championship for over four years, was ranked tenth among 175-pounders.

Barney Ross, who won world titles in the three weight classes, ranked number five among welterweights and number two among junior welterweights. Aaron Pryor is the only junior welterweight ranked higher.

Benny Leonard was viewed as the second best lightweight. He held the world championship for nearly eight years. Only Roberto Duran ranked higher. Duran also placed one better than Leonard on the pound-for-pound list.

Abe Attell, who held the world featherweight championship for six years, placed tenth. Attell's ranking seems particularly low.

Corporal Izzy Schwartz came in as the ninth best flyweight.

Comparing these lists to the IBRO's 2019 rankings is interesting. For the most part, these Jewish fighters ranked a little lower on the 2019 lists, which is to be expected as time passes and new fighters become eligible. Attell, however, was ranked number four on the IBRO's featherweight list, considerably higher (and likely more accurate) than on the AP's list.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Odelia Ben Ephraim to Defend Title in June

Odelia "Thunder" Ben Ephraim is scheduled to defend her French featherweight title on Friday, June 7 at Patinoire Municipale Jacques Raynaud in Blagnac, France. This is a hometown fight for Ben Ephraim, who trains out of the Blagnac Boxing Club.

The 24 year old has now recovered from an injury that forced her to pull out of a European title fight in January. With a record of 5-2, Ben Ephraim is an accurate volume puncher who throws intelligent and well-placed combinations.

Thunder last fought on November 24 when she captured the vacant French featherweight belt. In that contest, she gave an impressive performance against Lydie Bialic, a former sparring partner, although Odelia was somewhat disappointed with her showing. For this fight, she hopes to incorporate more of the skills she displays in training, such as changing angles and targeting the body to a greater degree.