View Full Version : Bert Sugar's review of Barney Ross for the NY Times

02-20-2006, 12:46 PM
Published: February 19, 2006

By Douglas Century.
Illustrated. 216 pp. Nextbook/Schocken. $19.95.

ONCE upon a time, in the not so long ago, boxing was a major sport, a staple of network television, a constant in the sports pages, and its champions were some of the most celebrated figures in the world of sports. But today boxing has been consigned to cable and pay-per-view TV, coverage in the press is hidden somewhere under the shipping news, and its four alphabet-soup heavyweight champions are so well unknown that if they were to appear in a police lineup clad in robes, trunks and gloves, not only would you not know who they were, you might have a hard time figuring out what they did for a living.

But if today's boxing carries about the same amount of interest as municipal bonds, then television documentaries, movies and books have more than made up for its present by recycling its past, offering up the lives of such old-timers as Jack Johnson, James J. Braddock, Joe Louis and Max Schmeling to fan the dying embers of boxing's campfire.

All the above-mentioned, of course, were heavyweight champions, the fighters with whom fans have long identified. Which makes the selection of Barney Ross an unusual subject for a boxing biography. Still, he is an excellent choice. For while some people are ahead of their time, and some after it, Barney Ross was his time his time being the Great Depression, when fans who could not feed their bellies identified with this "little man" who dealt out large platefuls of hope. This was especially true of his Jewish admirers, for whom Ross served up a healthy portion of ethnic pride. They adopted this warrior who, as Douglas Century writes, "embodied the fantasy of Jewish force" in much the same way fans some 10 years before had adopted Benny Leonard, who, in the words of Budd Schulberg, "was doing with his fists what the Adolph Zukors and William Foxes, and soon the L. B. Mayers and the B. P. Schulbergs, were doing in their studios and their theaters . . . fighting the united efforts of the goyim establishment to keep them in their ghettos."

Leonard had been the first stone to hit the water, creating, in ever-widening circles, wave after wave of fighters from the ghettos. In his wake came Maxie Rosenbloom, Al Singer and Sid Terris from New York; and from Chicago, King Levinsky, Jackie Fields, Charley White (whose talents inspired Ernest Hemingway to say that "life is the greatest left-hooker so far, although many say it was Charley White"), etc., etc., the et ceteras going on for about five pages or more. There were so many, in fact, that by 1930 the descendants of the 18th-century champion known as Mendoza the Jew so dominated the sport that the boxing announcer Joe Humphreys said, "The United States today is the greatest fistic nation in the world, and a close examination of its 4,000 or more fighters shows that the cream of its talent is Jewish."

Perhaps the greatest of the 30's crop of Jewish boxers was a fighter out of the Maxwell Street area of Chicago, born Dov-Ber Rasofsky, better known by his nom de guerre, Barney Ross. The 19-year-old Rasofsky-Ross won the Chicago and Intercity Golden Gloves championships in 1929 and turned pro that same year, just as the Roaring Twenties came to a screeching halt, soon to be replaced by bread lines and Bonus Army camps. Fighting to exorcise "the bitterness and hatred inside me" that resulted from the murder of his father in a grocery store holdup, Ross embodied the hopes and dreams of his Jewish followers, who were also battling with bitterness against the forces trying to keep them imprisoned in their ghettos.

But if a depression lay on the land, it also lay on boxing. By 1933, not only was the sport depressed, its talent was equally depressing. The heavyweight champion, Primo Carnera, was a joke; six of the eight major weight divisions suffered through periods when their titles were vacant; and Nat Fleischer, the editor of The Ring magazine, moaned: "Was there ever a year when so few boys shone in pugilism? I dare venture that 1933 is the worst on record."

Into this vacuum came three little men who stood taller than their actual heights: Tony Canzoneri, Jimmy McLarnin and Barney Ross. They also stood for something more, ethnic identification: Canzoneri was Italian; McLarnin, Irish; and Ross, Jewish. Together these three would be the tonic the sport needed; as Century makes clear, their ring wars, in effect, were wars for ethnic turf.

In the years before Joe Louis took over as the face of boxing, the three would light up the sport's bleak skies. Ross and Canzoneri initiated the wars with two fights in 1933, with Ross winning both, and the lightweight and junior-welterweight titles in the bargain. Ross next determined to challenge the welterweight champion, McLarnin, who was known as the Hebrew Scourge and the Jew Beater for taking on, and taking out, the best of the ghetto heroes.

In as thrilling a fight as New York had seen in many a year, Ross threw both caution and punches to the wind. Discarding the efficient, careful style that had served him so well in his previous 57 fights, he matched McLarnin punch for punch. Time and again he got away with it. He also got away with a split decision and the welterweight championship. Twice more these two greats were to battle for the ethnic turf of New York. And when the final tally had been made, it read: two victories for Ross, one for McLarnin and three for boxing.

Ross would go on to fight 18 more times, his final bout coming in 1938 against the perpetual motion machine called Henry Armstrong. For 15 rounds, Ross exhibited an infinite capacity for pain, absorbing everything Armstrong had to offer. He was badly beaten, and as he left the ring the sportswriter Grantland Rice asked, "Why didn't you quit?" A defiant former titleholder answered, "A champ's got the right to choose the way he goes out."

Barney Ross would indeed go out as a champion. And those fans who had cheered him at the beginning of his career in faith, and midway through in appreciation, now cheered him in adulation, his name worthy of being stenciled on all the white ribbons adorning Maxwell Street and his feats forever pressed between the pages of boxing's record book.

However, the book on Ross was hardly closed with the end of his boxing career; it would go on to have more plotlines than a Russian novel. Century, the author of "Street Kingdom: Five Years Inside the Franklin Avenue Posse," treats Ross's boxing afterlife in exacting detail: his winning the Silver Star for having saved two Marine buddies and killing some 20 of the enemy on Guadalcanal, despite suffering serious injuries; his addiction to the morphine administered to him during his convalescence; his slide down the razor blade of life and his subsequent rehabilitation; and his advocacy of a Jewish state.

If there is one fault to be found with "Barney Ross" (the third book in the "Jewish Encounters" series), it's that Century fails to connect the dots between the young Ross and those whose names appeared on the front pages and in the police blotter at the same time. Instead, he cites Ross's claim that he ran only "innocuous errands" for Al Capone (a statement he made in an F.B.I. interview regarding his childhood friend Jacob Rubenstein, a k a Jack Ruby) without carefully examining it. There are many competing versions of the story of the connection between Ross and Capone, depending upon which Chicago graybeard you listen to. One has it that Capone, a benefactor of all things boxing in Chicago in the 20's, actually underwrote Ross's professional beginnings. Another, that if it wasn't Capone himself, then it was one of his henchmen who gave Ross his amateur start. Either way, it deserves an explanation. And an explanation for the explanation.

Quibbles aside, this is an excellent story of a man and his times. And proof positive that time does not relinquish its hold over men or monuments. In a sport devoted to fashioning halos for its superstars, Ross wore a special nimbus, and this book properly fits him for that. The sport of boxing could surely use another Barney Ross today.

"Bert Randolph Sugar, a boxing historian, has served as the editor of The Ring and Boxing Illustrated magazines. His most recent book is "Boxing's Greatest Fighters."


02-20-2006, 04:50 PM
Got to hand it to Bert...through sheer perserverance he has become a staple in the book and doc world of boxing...it's hard to find a book that he does not offer first or second comment on or a doc he is not in...through his force of personality, his intellect, his style and his attire, he has deeply entrenched himself over many with greater initial exposure.

02-20-2006, 06:34 PM
According to Wikipedia, Ross vacated his Junior Welterweight crown to fight McLarnin for the welterweight crown. He later reclaimed the Jr. Welterweight belt after the McLarnin fights. If true, this would not make him the first simultaneous three crown champion.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_Ross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_Ross)

02-20-2006, 06:35 PM
I read that too:

"Then came the first of three bouts versus Jimmy McLarnin. Ross vacated the Jr. Welter title to go after McLarnin's belt and won by a 15 round decision, joining the three division world champions club. However, in a rematch a few weeks later, McLarnin beat Ross by a decision recovering the title, and after that, Ross went back down to the Jr. Weterweights and reclamed his title in a fight for the belt left vacant by himself, with a 12 round decision over Bobby Pacho."

But nowhere in any record books does it list the second bout with Pacho as Ross "WINNING" the vacant title, but rhather it is listed as a defense by Ross.

The final installment of the Ring record book in 86-87 (granted it is littered with errors), lists Ross as Lightweight & Jr. welterweight Champ from 33-35. And with him winning McLarnin's 147 crown in May of 34', it would give him a triple championship all simultaneous.

Other than Wikipedia, has anyone seen it listed that Ross "regained" the vacated Jr. Welter crown in his second bout agianst Pacho? I certianly have never seen him listed as a "two time" Jr. Welter champ along with being a two time Welterweight Champ. As well as a lightweight champ.

It sure has to be one or the other.


Addendum: According to the IBHOF, Ross vacated his LIGHTWEIGHT title immediately after he beat Tony C for the second time.

"In 1933, Ross earning a split decision over Canzoneri to win the world lightweight and junior welterweight titles. Less than three months later he retained both titles on another split decision in a rematch with Canzoneri and then relinquished the lightweight title."

That said, it remains a mystery why the vacant Lightweight title wasn't filled until May of 1935. If it was TRULY vacated by Ross in late 33', what sense does it make that they needed to weight more than a year an a half to decide that Ambers and Tony C would face each other to fill the vacancy?

Addendum II, Box rec lists the second Ross Canzoneri bout as being for BOTH the 140 and 135 pound belts. The IBHOF blurb above seems to back that up. Everything I've read from the Ring and the Ring record books states that the second bout was for ONLY the 140 pound crown (upon further review, this stement of mine is incorrect.).

Obviously multiple inconsistancies are surrounding Ross and his titles. And my research energies are being recharged by all of this.

02-20-2006, 08:11 PM
"Little known fact about Ross. He, not Armstrong was the first man to hold 3 titles at the same time. & for some reason historians have never given him credit for that accomplishment.

Here's the sitch; Ross was the lighweight & jr. welter champion when he foughht & beat McLarnin for the welter title. Ross was a great lightweight champion but he took the jr. welter title seriously having defended it 10 times succesfully.

Why he has never been credited for doing this well before Armstrong did it is a mystery to me.


Gordoom when you first wrote this in the Jose Napoles thread, I guess it didn't hit in the face as much as I thought it would have. Maybe, I just didn't really believe your point about this, becuase, SHeesh! This would be soooo obvious, how could ANYONE miss THAT?!?!?!?!?

Well I fianlly did get off my lazy keister and looked it up (the Sugar article inspired me), and lo and behold you are spot on with this. To me this is an amazing oversite on the part of boxing historians and fans alike. Simply INEXSCUSABLE!

I went to look this up and cross reference the title reigns and it is absolutely the case. Ross was Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight champ from 1933 until 1935. The 140 pound title went vacant until 1946 when Tippy Larkin won the vacant crown. Barney never defended the Lightweight title that he won From Tony C (along with the 140 crown, that was also on the line, as Canzoneri held both the Light and Jr. welterweight crown simultaneously.) but he was recognized as champ until 1935. He vacated the title in 1935 (along with the 140 crown) prior to Ambers and Tony C fighting for the vacated crown in May of that year.

I love coming accross info that debunks tales of legend, that have been passed along for years, but this one is SOOO obvious, I can't beleive I had not ever heard it mentioned until I read your post Gordoom!

One to add (and a BIG one at that) to pile.



02-20-2006, 10:36 PM
From the June 24th, 1933 edition of the New York Times covering the first Ross Canzoneri bout, the article never mentions ONCE that the bout was for both Tony's 135 and 140 crown. All that is ever mentioned is the Lightweight title that Ross won in a decision met with boos from the crowd.

The complete lack of respect and recognition that the 140 belt was given a the time, would make it understood that Ross's taking of two titles was not seen as a great feat and upon winning the wleterweight crown form McLarnin, not only was winning THREE titles seen as any great shakes, but holding onto all three at once, wasn't even discussed.

In the May 29th, 1934 article covering the title winning effort of Ross over Mclarnin, AGAIN, the 140 pould title is not mentioned (Was the Jr. Weltwerweight recognized in NY State at the time? I have to say it was not. That seems to be the logical conclusion here. Not ONE of Ross's 140 pound stand alone title fights were ever fought in NY State. Note and Correction: I stated previously that the second Ross Canzoneri bout was ONLY for the 140 pound corwn. That was indeed an error on my part. Both the Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight bouts were on the line for the second bout that was held in NYC. I cited the RING record book, which actually states that both titles WERE on the line. Bad peepers I guess.), but it DOES clearly state that Ross was the holder of the Lightweight title going into that bout.

In a June 2nd, 1934 article by the Times (The New York Times Encyclopedia of Sports Vol. 7 covering boxing is an INVALUABLE resource folks.), there is an article discussing what the Commission ruled on with Ross holding both Belts (so clearly the IBHOF's comment about Ross vacating the 135 pound belt going into the Mclarnin bout is WRONG), and it is stated that Ross can ONLY defend one belt at a time in a single title fight. And that it must be clearly stipulated PRIOR to the bout, whihc title is on the line.

It also mentions that the National Boxing Association had suspended Ross for going through with the McLarnin fight and failing to defend agianst Tony Herrera in Fort Worth, TX on April 20th of that year. And that the New York "body" refused to join the "N.B.C (typo)" in it's suspension.

Further, it is discussed that Frankie Klick who held Ross to a draw, would NOT be afforded the #1 Challenger status for the 135 pound divsion and he would need to defeat Tony C for that recognition. Canzi, would KO Klick in 9 on June 10th, or 8 days after that ruling.

Ross CLEARLY held the Lightweight and Welterweight titles simultaneously as cited in this article. It is also clear that the 140 pound belt held very little if ANY presitge in 1933, 34 or 35.

Unless I can find any evidence to support WIKIPEDIA's claim that Ross vacated the 140 crown before facing McLarnin (and it seemed the only opposition he was facing going into the bout with Jimmy was coming from his holding of the 135 pound title) and that Ross INDEED re-won the crown he himself vacated, when he defeated Bobby Pacho a second time, I have to conclude that Ross was INDEED a holder of all three belts, simultaneously.

Any thoughts or other insight on this?


02-27-2006, 01:54 PM
My thought are the jr. divison were probably not highly reguarded as the orginal divisions. I do not care for them much either. Two major and one minor are not 126,135,147.

140 did not have any great history. Feather, light, and welter did.

Anyhow, Ross is one of my favorite fighters. I even like the fact that he does not get much credit outside of hardcore fight fans. He had all the tolls. His life before, during, and after boxing shold be taught at schools.

I love and admired the guy.

03-01-2006, 06:05 AM
"Chicago boxer adds 147-pound crown to lightweight honors by 15-round triumph in Garden Bowl." - New York Times, May 29th, 1934

"Ross defeats Pacho in 12-round contest; Outpoints Los Angeles boxer and keeps junior welterweight championship." - New York Times, Dec 11th, 1934

Roberto Aqui
03-01-2006, 10:57 PM
The controversy revolves around the divisions. Armstrong held 3 full division titles. Ross held 2 full and one junior.

03-05-2006, 07:35 PM

I dont think there is any doubt that history would ALWAYS recognize Hank's acomplishment as more significant that Ross's given HIS was in three traditional weight classes. But the fact that Ross' accomplisment is NOT recognized at all is, to me, an amazing oversight.


03-05-2006, 09:21 PM
I wrote this condensed bio of Ross 10 years ago for the CBZ Encyclopedia to be a companion piece to his career record.


Cyber Boxing Champion
Barney Ross,

"The Pride of the Ghetto"

Record: W 72; L 4; D 3; ND 2 (22 kayos)

Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri & Jimmy McLarnin comprise the holy trinity of lighter weight fighters of the late 20's to mid-30's. They do so in the same sense that Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns & Marvin Hagler are symbolic of the 80's. Like the modern trio, Ross, Canzoneri & McLarnin engaged in a round robin of bouts that enthralled the sporting public. Demographically they were a publicists dream: A Jew, an Italian & a native son of Ireland.

Like Sugar Ray Leonard some 50 years later, Ross emerged as the dominant fighter after a grueling series of wars with the other two.

Of all of the six boxers I have so far discussed, Barney Ross (real name: Beryl Rossofsky. Born: New York City, December 23, 1909), was the most implausible one to have emerged as a great fighter. Physically, he was not particularly blessed. His lack of power was exerbated by small hands & brittle bones on a slight frame with very slim arms. What was never measured however was his heart, which was boundless.

When Barney was 14 years old, two punks robbed the dairy that Barney's dad, Isadore, who was also a rabbi, operated in Chicago's West Side. Finding only nickels & dimes in the cash register the enraged louts shot & killed Barney's father.

His mother who struggled grievously too keep her brood together after the calamity, suffered a nervous breakdown & had to be taken care of by relatives. Barney & his older brother moved in with a cousin & the three younger siblings were placed in an orphanage. At this point, Ross became almost pathologically obsessed with reuniting his scattered family. He was so desperate to make a buck that he even turned to Chicago's main form of earning a living during the Roaring 20's . . . Racketeering.

Barney was soon busted for running illegal crap games & went to work for various gangsters including "Scarface" Al Capone. During his brief apprenticeship, Ross decided he liked the work & wanted to join the mob full time.

The story may be apocryphal, but supposedly Capone himself, denied young Barney the entree to a life of crime. "Scarface" felt it wasn't appropriate for the son of a rabbi to become a "made" man. The story goes that he gave Ross a twenty dollar bill (more than a week's wages for many during the Depression), & told Barney too," . . . Get off the streets." When Barney began to protest, Capone snarled, "Beat it, before I get mad!"

With his options severely limited Barney turned to amateur boxing to raise some desperately needed shekels. Sometimes fighting as often as five times a week, almost always winning; Barney would hock the medals he won for three dollars apiece.

Barney trained at the Catholic Youth Center were the boxing coach was the very clever old-time fighter, Packy McFarland. Barney being a smart lad, wisely absorbed all the tricks of the trade that the old cutie, McFarland taught him.

Well schooled by the venerable Paky & inspired by the brilliant success of fellow Chicago ghettoite, Jackie Fields, Barney fought an estimated 250 amateur bouts culminating with his winning the intercity featherweight Golden Gloves title in 1929.

Ross turned pro shortly thereafter & from 1929 to 1932 he racked up an impressive 38-2-2 record. Then on August 26th he faced the redoubtable veteran, Ray Miller. Miller was a battle scarred veteran of over a hundred fights whose left hook was not only the scourge of the lightweight division; but was one of the best left hookers of all-time according to Hank Kaplan.

While Miller was a top contender, more importantly, he was the baddest lightweight in Chicago. Young Barney, who many thought was in over his head, pounded out a victory in a grueling battle of left hooks. That was also the night that Ross proved he had a chin made out of granite -- as further testified to by his never being knocked down, much less KO'd during his long career.

A little over two weeks after the Miller fight, Barney faced Frankie Petrolle on September 15th (KO-2). This bout was significant because Frankie was the great Billy "The Fargo Express" Petrolle's brother. This created a natural rivalry & Billy was matched with Barney six months later. Before facing Petrolle, Ross dispatched five foes; the most notable being the very tough former featherweight champion (1929-1932), Battling "Bat" Battallino (yet another classic moniker!).

The bout with Billy Petrolle was the turning point of Ross' career. Petrolle, along with Sam Langford, Lew Tendler & Charley Burley was one of the greatest fighters to have never won a championship. No champion or top contender wanted to fight him . . . Ever. Ross bested Petrolle (W-10), in a torrid match that had Chicago fight fans buzzing for months.

That fight earned Barney a shot against the reigning lightweight & jr. welterweight champion, Tony Canzoneri, who at the time was considered the best fighter pound for pound in the game. Ross narrowly edged Canzoneri (W-10), in Chicago, on June 23, 1933 & won both titles; becoming the first fighter since the beginning of the Queensbury Rules era to win two titles simultaneously.

Many years later, Ross was quoted as saying, "Winning the titles was almost an anti-climax. My big thrill came a few weeks before the fight. That was when I was able to take the younger kids out of the orphanage asylum & reunite them with Mom". Barney had moved his family into a spacious apartment with the rent pre-paid. This was the fulfillment of a vow that had obsessed him since the tragic events that had scattered his family. This meant more too him than any titles. That was the kind of man that Barney Ross was . . .

Never one to waste time, Ross defended his jr. welter title on July 26th in Kansas City against rugged Johnny Farr (KO-6). Since the first fight with Canzoneri, there had been a lot of speculation -- especially from the New York press -- that Canzoneri had been jobbed by a hometown decision. Ross, who never ducked anybody, gave Canzoneri a rematch on Tony's home turf in New York City. The return bout, on September 12th, before more than 40,000 roaring, stomping fans in the Polo Grounds, was a major Big Apple event. The celebrity's in the crowd included members of the Presidential Cabinet, governors, mayors, famous mobsters & movie, radio & recording stars.

This time scheduled for 15 rounds, the fight was a brutal, bloody, bout. It wasn't until the last few rounds, when Ross had Canzoneri out on his feet, that Barney was able to develop a clear cut edge.

After the fight, Ross indicated that he was glad he had not knocked out the gallant Canzoneri. Immediately following the fight, Ross relinquished the lightweight title due to weight problems. (This brings up an interesting question: If the jr. titles were so disparaged in those days, why did Ross hang on to the jr. welterweight title?

The claim of weight problems is questionable since Ross later defended his welterweight title more than once, fighting at 137-138 lbs. Not only did he hang on to the supposedly spurious title, but he defended it regularly during most of his reign as welterweight champion).

My guide into the mysteries & inequities of our beloved sport, the incomparable boxing historian, Hank Kaplan, has as usual, straightened out my chemically induced flights of imagination.

He suggests that the I'm way off base (this has never been suggested before!), & that Ross wasn't hanging on to a then spurious title, but that the proto-Arum's (my analogy, not Hank's), were using the hook of a title match much like modern day promoters & the TV network's use specious WB-what-ever titles to promote their telecasts . . .

At any rate, Ross followed his 2nd conclusive victory over Canzoneri by defending the jr. welterweight title against Sammy Fuller on November 17th in Chicago (W-10).

On January 24th, 1934, Ross gave Billy Petrolle a rematch in New York (W-10). He followed this with a string of jr. welter title defenses against the likes of Pete Nebo (W-10), Frankie Klick (W-10) & Bobby Pacho (W-10); before facing "Baby face" Jimmy McLarnin for the welterweight title on May 28th in New York City.

Despite Barney's victories over Canzoneri, who at the time was considered the best fighter pound for pound, McLarnin had come to be recognized as Canzoneri's successor as the best fighter in the game.

McLarnin was a great fighter who beat ten world champions during his storied career. He seemed to specialize in flattening Jewish fighters & he'd already KO'd the likes of, Jackie Fields, Joey Sangor, Kid Kaplan, Sid Terris, Joey Glick, Ruby Goldstein & a come backing Benny Leonard.

Because of McLarnin's propensity for flattening Jewish opponents (similar to Roger Mayweather's rep as a Mexican destroyer in the 80's), Jewish fight fans turned out in record numbers in anticipation for this fight.

Sixty thousand fans attended the fight in the Long Island Bowl & were treated to one of the great fights in history. Both fighters went at it hammer & tongs with Ross gaining a slight edge with his speed, despite being out weighed by 10 pounds, which frustrated McLarnin who was unable to reach Ross' chin with his vaunted right.

Finally in the 9th round he caught Ross with the right & down he went. Angry because he had never been down before, Ross jumped up without a count & tore into McLarnin. Forty five seconds later McLarnin was on the canvass as a result of two vicious left hooks.

McLarnin also roze without a count & recklessly attacked Ross, who used his considerable defensive skills to avoid McLarnin's haymakers until the end of the round. By the end of the fight McLarnin was a bloody mess & the decision was given to Ross, although the scores were controversial. One judge awarded 11 rounds to Ross, 2 to McLarnin & 2 even. The second judge had it 9 rounds for McLarnin, 1 round for Ross & 5 even. The referee"s scoring was even more bizarre, 1 round for McLarnin, 13 rounds for Ross & 1 even!

Talk about seeing things differently!

On September 17th, 1934, Ross gave McLarnin a return bout & Ross lost another controversial split decision over 15 rounds. Of the 29 reporters covering the fight, 22 of them had Ross winning.

Ross still had his jr. welterweight title & continued defending it for the rest of the year & the next until he was rematched with McLarnin for the rubber bout exactly one year from the date he first won it.

Like the other two, the rubber match was a bruising, savage, struggle.

In the 6th round Ross badly broke his right thumb. Fighting the rest of the fight in agony, Barney persevered & had McLarnin's number ... This time he won a convincing unanimous decision in 15. Barney also was the first fighter to ever win a title twice on the same date.

Following this fight Ross relinquished the jr. welter title to campaign exclusively as a welterweight. Ross proceeded to beat the very tough bolo punching Ceferino Garcia twice in 10 round non-title bouts & defended his title against Izzy Janazzo (W-15).

On September 23rd 1937 Ross granted Garcia a title shot. Ross fought with a severely bone bruised left hand, but was still able to out smart & out speed his slow thinking but much harder hitting opponent. After 11 rounds Ross had the fight well in hand when he was caught by a crushing bolo uppercut in the 12th.

Ross' knees buckled, but he managed too hang on. In the 14th Garcia landed powerful combinations that badly bloodied Ross' face & almost put him away. By this time Ross was fighting on courage & instinct alone, but somehow he mustered a fusillade of punches in the 15th to pull out the decision.

Barney finally came to the end of his championship days on May 31st 1938. On that day he faced a human hurricane named Henry Armstrong.

Armstrong who was the featherweight champion was jumping 4 divisions too take on Ross. From an artistic standpoint it was a totally one sided fight. Barney held his own for the first 3 rounds. By the middle of the fight it had turned into a massacre. Ross' managers wanted to stop the fight, but Ross pleaded with them through swollen, bloody lips, "If you stop it," he said, "I'll never talk to you again!"

Famed referee Arthur Donovan, went to Ross' corner following the 11th, 12th & 13th rounds & Barney begged him to let the fight go on, "I've got to go out like a champion," he pleaded, "Let me finish. I have never been knocked out."

Armstrong later divulged that he carried Ross for the last 3 rounds. "How are you feeling?" he asked Ross in the 13th. "I'm dead," replied Barney. "Allright," snapped Armstrong, "just shoot your left, but if you shoot your right, you're dead!"

All Ross could do was lean on Armstrong the last 3 rounds. Following the unanimous decision loss, Ross retired. He had 81 fights, winning 73 & only losing 4.

After his retirement, Ross seemed content as a proprietor of a very successful Chicago lounge that bore his name. When World War II broke out in 1941, Barney who was 33 at the time & too old for the military draft insisted on enlisting & joined the Marines. The war & the events that unfolded forever changed Ross' life.

Combat gave Ross yet another opportunity to prove what a valiant warrior he was. Against insurmountable odds, he & four other Marines defended a fox hole against squads of Japanese soldiers.

In an article for the Jewish Digest in 1968, Father Frederick Gehring, who was the Catholic chaplain stationed on Guadalcanal with Ross, gave the closest thing we have to a first hand account about what happened:

"In the fierce fire fight the other four . . . were seriously injured. They found refuge in a shell hole, where Barney, although eventually wounded himself, proceeded to hold off the enemy force, two of his wounded companions loaded while he fired.

When reinforcements finally rescued them, the Marines had been in their hole for thirteen hours. Around them lay twenty two enemy dead. Two of the Marines had died & the other two had to undergo amputations. Barney had shrapnel in his legs & sides & was shaken with fever."

Corporal Ross was promoted too Sergeant on the spot & was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross & a Presidential Citation from President Roosevelt. Barney was confined to a Guadalcanal hospital for many months while he was treated for wounds, dysentery, malaria, migraines & otalgia.

Sympathetic corpsmen administered large quantities of morphine too help alleviate Ross' suffering. Unfortunately this had the consequence of a heavy narcotic addiction.

By the time he was released, Barney's dark hair had turned grey & he still suffered painful bouts of malaria as well a the demons of addiction.

Ross remained heavily addicted for four years. During those years he lived the terrible life of a junkie; stealing morphine tablets from hospitals & doctors his life devolve into a nightmare of needles, syringes & droppers.

The merciless drug dealers bled Barney's savings dry. He estimated he went thru half a million dollars feeding his habit.

Eventually Ross lost everything, his lounge, his wife & his self esteem. Finally he bottomed out & voluntarily turned himself over to a government recovery facility in Lexington Kentucky & after six months of treatment he was cured of his addiction & released.

A few years later the movie "Monkey On My Back"{ was released starring Cameron Mitchell as Barney. The movie purported to show Ross' life a drug addict. Barney denounced the movie as, ". . . filth, bilge & cheap sensation.

Ross threatened to sue United Artists for $5 million dollars, but settled out of court for $10,000.

When his health was restored, Barney went into the gun running business unsuccessfully, trying to smuggle arms into Israel during the 1948 War Of Independence.

Finally too make ends meet, he got a job through a friend as Secretary-Treasurer in charge of labor relations for the Eureka Shipbuilding Corporation in Newburgh New York. In his spare time he toured the lecture circuit, lecturing on the evils of drug addiction.

After finally finding a measure of peace in his life, Ross developed throat cancer & after a long, painful battle, his arduous life came to an end in Chicago, on January 17th, 1967 . . .

Barney Ross represented Every Man.

To the sport of boxing, Barney Ross exemplified everything that is noble in this bloody, back stabbing, brutal arena we call a sport ...

Barney Ross, roze above his impoverished ghetto existence to become a shining example of the American Dream at it's best & it's most unforgiving . . . Today's sports heroes could learn a lesson from Ross: No matter how hot you are today . . . Life & the tumbling dice, that the Bitch Angel keeps rolling . . . Has an eternal way of chillin' your ass out . . .

1996 Cyber Boxing Zone

04-14-2006, 12:18 PM
Ross punched his way to fame

By Dave Newhouse from Bay Area Insider

Boxing has had its ethnic cycles. Today, most of the top fighters are African American or Hispanic. But the Irish and Italians also have had their heydays as pugilists.
Likewise, the Jewish culture in the 1920s and 1930s, featuring the greatness of Benny Leonard and Max Baer. But one of the most colorful boxers, and a war hero to boot, was Barney Ross.
He was born Dov-Ber Rasofksy in Chicago, the son of Eastern European immigrants, and he crossed paths as a kid with Al Capone and Jack Ruby, the man who killed presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Boxing saved Ross from a life of crime, and he became a highly respected champion who held the world lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight titles in the '30s.

Ross wasn't a knockout puncher; he was a slick boxer with clever hands and quick feet. He lost just four times in 81 fights over a 10-year pro career, and he is considered among the greatest of lighter weight fighters.
He is largely forgotten, but he comes to life in "Barney Ross," a book written by Douglas Century and recently published by Shocken Books, a division of Random House that specializes in Jewish subject matter.
Century has masterfully researched Ross' career, including his three welterweight title classics with Jimmy McLarnin. Ross won two of the three, then retired in 1938 after taking a fearful beating from Henry Armstrong.

Ross was hardly a role model as a champion. He drank, smoked and lost most of his biggest gates because of gambling. He suckered opponents, but he was the biggest sucker outside the ring.

However, he was a patriot. At 32, too old to enlist in the military, he finagled himself into the Marines and earned a Silver Star at Guadacanal, the battle that swung World War II in the Americans' favor in the Pacific Theater.
But Ross contacted malaria during the war, and it turned him into a morphine addict, a terrible struggle that took years to conquer and cost him a second divorce. He spent his remaining years campaigning against drug abuse.
His morphine habit canceled a Hollywood film project about his life. But an ensuing boxing movie "Body and Soul," starring John Garfield, is the Barney Ross story, no doubt.

Century's book is a quick read, but it's directed toward a Jewish audience, thus there is considerable Jewish heritage to absorb. Regardless, it's a very readable book, a knockout.

04-14-2006, 09:35 PM
It sad that a fighter of Ross's on Canzoneri's greatness would be practically forgotten today. Ross was an incredibly skilled boxer with the guts of a burgular. It would be VERY interesting to see him in there with someone like Mayweather.

Here is Barney Ross's Career Record:

Cyber Boxing Champion
Barney Ross,
"The Pride of the Ghetto"

Real Name: Beryl David Rosofsky
Born: December 23, 1909 New York
Died: January 17, 1967 Chicago
Managers: Willis "Gig" Rooney, Sam Pian, and Art Winch
Professional Record: 72-4-3 (22 Kayos), 2 ND

Sep 1 Ramon Lugo Los Angeles W 6
Sep 14 Joe Borola Los Angeles W 6
Oct 12 Joe Borola Los Angeles W 6
Oct 21 Virgil Tobin San Francisco KO 2
Nov 19 Joey Barth Chicago W 5
Dec 5 Al DeRose Chicago W 6

Jan 10 Louis New Chicago W 6
Jan 24 Johnny Andrews Chicago W 4
Feb 22 Jiro Kumagai San Francisco W 4
Mar 17 Jackie Davis St. Louis ND 4
Apr 8 Eddie Bojack Cleveland KO 2
Apr 21 Carlos Garcia Chicago L 6
Apr 25 Mickey Genaro Chicago W 6
Jul 1 Eddie Koppy Detroit W 8
Aug 7 Luis Navaro Perez Chicago KO 1
Sep 19 Young Terry Chicago D 8
Oct 14 Sammy Binder Chicago TKO 2
Nov 6 Petey Mack Chicago KO 1
Nov 21 Harry Dublinsky Chicago D 8

Jan 14 Harry Falegano Chicago W 8
Feb 20 Young Terry Chicago W 10
Mar 20 Jackie Davis Chicago W 6
Mar 27 Roger Bernard Chiago L 8
Apr 8 Midget Mike O'Dowd Moline, IL W 8
Apr 24 Lud Abella Chicago TKO 2
May 1 Jackie Dugan Moline, IL KO 8
May 13 Mickie Billy Shaw Chicago W 10
Jul 15 Babe Ruth Benton Harbor, MI KO 4
Jul 30 Jimmy Alvarado Detroit W 8
Oct 2 Glen Camp Chicago W 10
Nov 4 Lou Jallos Chicago W 8
Nov 13 Young Terry Moline, IL W 8
Nov 18 Jimmy Lundy Kansas City W 8

Feb 8 Mickey O'Neill Milwaukee W 6
Feb 18 Billy Gladstone Chicago W 6
Mar 2 Nick Ellenwood Muncie, IN W 10
Apr 5 Frankie Hugues Indianapolis W 10
May 20 Dick Sisk Chicago TKO 6
Jul 28 Henry Perlick Chicago KO 3
Aug 26 Ray Miller Chicago W 10
Sep 15 Frankie Petrolle Chicago KO 2
Oct 21 Bat Battalino Chicago W 10
Nov 11 Goldie Hess Chicago W 10
Nov 26 Johnny Farr Milwaukee W 10

Jan 20 Johnny Datto Pittsburgh KO 2
Feb 22 Tommy Grogan Chicago W 10
Mar 22 Billy Petrolle Chicago W 10
Mar 26 Tony Canzoneri Chicago W 10
(Wins World Lightweight and World Jr. Welterweight Titles)
May 4 Joe Ghnouly St. Louis W 10
Jul 26 Johnny Farr Kansas City TKO 6
Sep 12 Tony Canzoneri New York W 15
(Retains World Lightweight and World Jr. Welterweight Titles)
Nov 17 Sammy Fuller Chicago W 10
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)

Jan 24 Billy Petrolle New York W 10
Feb 7 Pete Nebo Kansas City W 12
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)
Mar 5 Frankie Klick San Francisco D 10
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)
Mar 14 Kid Moroo Oakland W 10
Mar 27 Bobby Pacho Los Angeles W 10
May 28 Jimmy McLarnin New York W 15
(Wins World Welterweight Title)
Sep 17 Jimmy McLarnin New York L 15
(Loses World Welterweight Title)
Dec 10 Bobby Pacho Cleveland W 12
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)

Jan 28 Frankie Klick Miami W 10
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)
Apr 9 Henry Woods Seattle W 12
(Retains World Jr. Welterweight Title)
Apr Abandons Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight Titles
May 28 Jimmy McLarnin New York W 15
(Regains World Welterweight Title)
Sep 6 Baby Joe Gans Portland, OR TKO 2
Sep 13 Ceferino Garcia San Francisco W 10
Nov 29 Ceferino Garcia Chicago W 10

Jan 27 Lou Halper Philadelphia TKO 8
Mar 11 Gordon Wallace Vancouver, BC W 10
May 1 Chuck Woods Louisville KO 5
Jun 10 Laddie Tonelli Milwaukee KO 5
Jun 22 Morrie Sherman Omaha, NE KO 2
Jul 22 Phil Furr Washington DC W 10
Nov 27 Izzy Jannazzo New York W 15
(Retains World Welterweight Title)

Jan 29 Al Manfredo Detroit W 10
Jun 17 Chuck Woods Indianapolis KO 4
Jun 27 Jackie Burke New Orleans KO 5
Aug 19 Al Manfredo Des Moines, IA ND 10
Sep 23 Ceferino Garcia New York W 15
(Retains World Welterweight Title)

Apr 4 Henry Schaft Minneapolis TKO 4
Apr 25 Bobby Venner Des Moines, IA TKO 7
May 31 Henry Armstrong Long Island City, NY L 15
(Loses World Welterweight Title)
1998 The Cyber Boxing Zone. Thanks to Matt Tegen for supplying the record.

06-29-2006, 07:22 PM
"Leonard had been the first stone to hit the water, creating, in ever-widening circles, wave after wave of fighters from the ghettos. "

I guess Sugar never heard of Abe Atell and how many others?

Abe Atell won the featherweight title in 1901.

Leonard won the lightweight title in 1917.

06-29-2006, 07:24 PM
Daniel Mendoza and Joe Choynski were Jewish fighters, too.

- Chuck Johnston

06-29-2006, 07:35 PM
Choynski knocked out Jack Johnson.