Monday, August 23, 2010

Know the Answer?

This is for the boxing detectives out there. Perhaps someone knows who the boxer in the story was.
The story titled "Nat Siegford Does it Again: A Christmas Story," caught my eye as I was processing The Ringside Reporter magazine. The issue is dated January 8, 1950, Vol. XXII No. 1. I read the whole story, and loved it. It must be true, seeing how Fred Eisenstadt was a writer of good repute for Ringside.
It may also be untrue, but whatever the case, Eisenstadt is writing about a man whose life was drastically different compared to the times when he was a boxer.
So, here is a question, which I too would like to know: Who IS the boxer in the story? There are clues that a good boxing historian may follow.
The boxer fought against "top-ranking welterweights of that era." That era being the 1920s. He fought against "Phil Bloom, Kid Graves, Jack Britton, Ted Kid Lewis, Dave Shade, Mike O'Dowd, Steve Latzo, Sailor Freedman, Harry Greb, Ace Hudkins, Soldier Bartfield, Honey Mollody, Pete Latzo and others--in a career which lasted some eighteen years."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jerry Haar remembers Hank

When I first met my father-in-law Hank Kaplan, my knowledge of boxing could have filled half a thimble. Thanks to him, I was able to fill the other half in no time—with a lot left over. But it was not Hank Kaplan, the dean of boxing historians, that made the most lasting impression upon me, but rather Hank, the unassuming, regular guy. His quiet charisma, his patience, his understanding, and complete lack of pretension were what impressed me most in the decade-long period I had the privilege to know him. No sincere question posed to him about boxing or entymology—his greatest passion (something known to a very few!)—was deemed silly, stupid, or irrelevant. I observed in every instance Hank’s ability to calmly, clearly, succinctly and respectively respond to any and all questions posed to him from novices as well as those well-versed in the ins and outs of the “sweet science.” Hank was a man with a mission—to chronicle for posterity the history of boxing. He did precisely that—and he did so with class and humility, setting the bar high for future boxing historians and archivists who will build on the rock solid foundation he created…..Jerry Haar

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Rare Item from
the Hank Kaplan Boxing Archive

By Mike Silver

To paraphrase a line from the movie Forrest Gump, “the Hank Kaplan Boxing Archive is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to find.” This rare AP wire photo, dated June 29th, 1936, attests to that. The caption attached to the photo reads:

“Schmeling’s Wife Gets Gift From Hitler. Surrounded by flowers and congratulatory telegrams Annie Odra, Max Schmeling’s wife is shown the day after the Louis battle beside the odd plant (left) sent by Adolph Hitler, above her hangs the trophies of Max’s former fights.”

The photo shows Anny Ondra (correct spelling), Schmeling’s actress wife, pictured in their Berlin apartment surrounded by gifts, awards, flowers and telegrams in honor of her husband’s 12th round knockout of Joe Louis at New York’s Yankee Stadium on June 19th 1936.
Max Schmeling’s knockout of Joe Louis was the greatest upset in boxing history up to that time. Germany’s Nazi propaganda machine made the most of the unexpected victory. Schmeling and his wife were photographed with Hitler and the fighter was paraded around Germany as a model of “Aryan racial superiority.”
Anny Ondra was born in Poland to Czech parents. She became an actress and appeared in several Czech and German films. In 1933 she married Germany’s former heavyweight champion, Max Schmeling. They appeared in at least two films together after Schmeling knocked out Louis. Schmeling’s star faded rapidly in Germany after his rematch with Louis in 1938. On the eve of World War II, in a symbolic victory for the free world over fascism, Joe Louis annihilated Schmeling in just 2:04 of the first round.
For anyone who wants to learn more about the Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling era and their historic fights, I suggest you read David Margolick’s definitive history, “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and a World on the Brink”.
In addition, the Brooklyn College Library, Archives and Special Collections has Margolick’s extensive research materials which will shortly be made available.