From Immigrant Beginnings A Century Ago, Four Jewish Boxers From Philadelphia Ascend the Pugilistic Ladder of Success.
Paperback, 294 pages
Review from Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, PhD:
In Never Tell A Boy Not to Fight, Harry D. Boonin brings the lost world of Philadelphia Jewish boxing back to life. From gritty Isadore "Izzy" Strauss, one of Philadelphia's first Jewish fighters who debuted in an 1893 St. Patty's Day fight at the Academy of Music, to plucky Sammy Smith, to Harry Lewis making a splash in the Midwest and the West who went on to fight in Paris, London, and Liverpool, to Lew Tendler, "The Pride of Philly," fighting for the lightweight championship of the world in newly opened Yankee Stadium, Boonin provides detail and insight into the life of an immigrant community and one of America's leading spectator sports. IN describing both the world of the young boxers and the history of their fights, the author ties two worlds together in a vibrant and historically accurate fashion.
The book completes a trilogy about Jewish South Philadelphia that Boonin began seventeen years ago. Unlike his first two books, The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia and Congregation Kesher Israel, his new book is a story of four boxers from South Philly, and all three books are colorful and tightly packed. They tell the story of an aspiring immigrant community, East European Jews, who shared, sometimes uneasily, the sidewalks and the alleys of the City of Brotherly Love's densely populated catch basin of new Americans.
Never Tell a Boy Not to Fight takes us back to the crowded immigrant streets and tells us about the Jewish boys who fought their way up from poverty and obscurity, describing Jewish fighters, managers and promoters, and the role they played in transforming boxing from street brawling to major sporting events with mass market audiences. Like a radio announcer of old, Boonin narrates his story with color and passion.
-Rabbi Lance J, Sussman, PhD
Keneseth Israel Synagogue
Elkins Park, PA