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Biofile J. Russell Peltz Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Hall of Fame boxing promoter. Inducted in 2004. Author of new book “Thirty Dollars And A Cut Eye” about his career as a Philadelphia boxing promoter and historian.

DOB: December 9, 1946  In: Philadelphia, PA

Last book read: The River Of No Return by Cleveland Sellers.

Favorite sport outside boxing:  College basketball.

Greatest career moment:  Bennie Briscoe’s 5th-round knockout of Tony Mundine in 1974 in Paris.

Most painful moment:  The scene in Bennie Briscoe’s dressing room after he was KO’ed the only time in 96 fights by Rodrigo Valdes in 1974 in Monte Carlo. Listening to ring announcer Ed Derian read off the scores the night of the Alfredo Escalera-Tyrone Everett (WBC Super Lightweight title) fight, which was fixed when the lone Philly judge took money to vote against Everett. At the Spectrum in 1976 (16,019 – still the largest crowd to watch an indoor boxing match in Philadelphia).

First memory of boxing:  I was at a dance party in 1959 when I heard Floyd Patterson got knocked out by Ingemar Johansson and I was upset.

First famous boxer you met or encountered: Harold Johnson. Actually, the first one I met was Sonny Liston at a fight in 1962.

Embarrassing boxing memory:  Hiding in the men’s room at the Spectrum to avoid a process server who was trying to stop the Earnie Shavers-Jimmy Young fight that night.

Favorite movies:  The original Body & Soul with John Garfield and Lilli Palmer.  Nothing else comes close. But props to Casablanca and Groundhog Day, which I never get tired of watching.

Favorite boxing books:  James Norris and the Decline of Boxing, by Barney Nagler; In This Corner by Peter Heller; Boxing Confidential by Jim Brady; Muhammad Ali and the Greatest Heavyweight Generation by Tom Cushman.

Favorite boxers to watch:  With the exception of Harold Johnson and George Benton, I like guys who came to take your head off…  Bennie Briscoe, “Cyclone” Hart, Marvin Johnson, Jeff Chandler, Saad Muhammad, Joe Frazier.

Favorite fights: The first fight betwen Marvin Johnson and Saad Muhammad. The first one between Bennie Briscoe and “Cyclone” Hart. The first Ali-Frazier fight, which I saw in person at the Garden. The first Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti fight.

Favorite artist: C.R. Schaare, who painted many of the covers of The Ring magazine in the 1930s and 1940s.

Funny boxing memory: Driving to a fight in 1974 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with Youngblood Williams and Prince Nikita Tarhocker in the back seat and they were fighting each other that night, but they were laughing and joking the entire one-hour ride.  Youngblood won by KO in the first round but neither rode home with me. It was a four-round fight.

Funniest boxing people: Indiana promoter Fred Berns.  No one had more fun, cracked more jokes, told more stories or laughed harder than Fred.

Why do you love boxing:  Why DID I love boxing?  Because when it’s done right, when two equal boxers are in the ring, and there’s a big crowd, and the fight is on the level, and the house lights go down and the ring lights go on, there’s no greater moment in sports.  But lemme know the next time that happens.

Funny boxing memory:  The night Bennie Briscoe caught me and Nigel Collins smoking a joint in my car outside the 23d PAL in North Philly.  Bennie was going into the gym when he smelled something, turned and looked inside the card and said, “Uncle Russ, you and Uncle Nigel gettin’ down in there?”  We all laughed. Inside the car……….obviously.

People Qualities Most admired: Anyone who is honest and whose word is gold.  My dad could spot a bull shitter a mile away and he warned me about several boxing people the first time he met them and he was 100% right.

Boxing inspirations: Not sure there was or is anyone in boxing who inspired me but I learned a lot from Gil Clancy and Joe Gramby.

See more Biofiles like this go to www.mrbiofile.com

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