Stories from Don Elbaum and some of them are true!

From Ken Hissner: The title of this article is the name of a book title that legendary 2019 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, matchmaker, manager, advisor and promoter Don Elbaum is planning while fight fans have expected to read for years. At 13 he was even a correspondent for Ring Magazine.

I caught up with my longtime friend Don Elbaum, who lives in his old home in Erie, Pennsylvania, and spoke to him about his book and his life in boxing from 1954 to 2016.

Elbaum promoted his first fight at age 18 and has promoted or co-promoted more than 1,000 tickets over a five-year period alone, including 196 shows at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He promoted some of the final fights of boxing greats Willie Pep and “Sugar” Ray Robinson.

Elbaum is known for staging cards with unusual themes, such as a show that featured a match between winless heavyweights billed to crown “the world’s worst heavyweight.”

He is also the source and subject of many anecdotes; For example, during his tenure as Robinson’s promoter, he found two very old and well-used boxing gloves and presented them to Robinson at a press conference as the gloves Robinson had worn when he made his professional debut nearly 25 years earlier.

Robinson got very emotional and cradled the gloves in his arms, but when he tried to put them on it was revealed that Elbaum had given him two left gloves. Telling the story to journalist Thomas Hauser, Elbaum claimed that IBHOF promoter J Russell Peltz once offered him $5,000 for the gloves in question, adding, “I need to find these gloves or two gloves that look like this.”

Elbaum also helped Don King get into the boxing business by helping him host a charity boxing event in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1970s. Elbaum later portrayed himself in an HBO-produced film about King’s life, released in 1997.

Elbaum has either managed or consulted on a number of fighters, including world champions Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Tony “TNT” Tubbs, Simon “Mantequilla” Brown, Maurice “Thin Man” Blocker, and challengers Earnie “The Black Destroyer.” Shavers, Doyle Baird, and David Telesco.

In addition to an amateur career, Elbaum had a string of professional fights throughout the 1960s. Many of them took place on shows he promoted, where he would fill in as a last minute substitute when no other fighters were available.

Elbaum sponsored around 223 events in numerous US cities and countries such as Hungary, Haiti, Canada, Kosovo, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Russia and Ireland.

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KEN: “How old were you when you went to your first boxing event?”

DON: “My dad used to take me to the fights when I was 13 in Cleveland. Larry Atkins was the promoter.”

KEN: “What was the first fight you heard on the radio?”

DON: “The first fight I heard on the radio was Ike Williams and Bob Montgomery.”

KEN: “What’s one of the biggest differences then and now in New York City?”

DON: “There were eight fights a week in New York City in the ’40s and ’50s, and now eight in a year.”

KEN: “Have you ever seen the ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson fight?”

DON: “I was there when ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson fought Artie Levine.”

KEN: “How familiar are old fans to tell who today’s boxers are by their looks?”

DON: “An old fight fan remarked, ‘I don’t recognize the faces (boxers) anymore.’

KEN: “What was your first boxing job?”

DON: “I’m 14 and I recommended Larry Atkins to do fights. He told me to fight for him in mm 4 and 6 rounds.”

KEN: “When did you start reading Ring Magazine?”

DON: “I used to get Ring Magazine and read it 3-4 hours a day.”

KEN: “What was one of the weirdest matches you arranged?”

DON: “I put Buffalo’s Manny “The Monster” Quinney in the game with an 0-2 opponent and I told him to rush after him at the bell and do that grunt you do and he did done, and without landing a punch, the guy fell to the canvas and got counted out.”

KEN: I heard you got Don King into boxing. Can you give me some info on that?”

DON: “Yes, and since then I’ve apologized to the world.”

KEN: “Can you tell me something positive or negative about your career?”

DON: “It was an incredible roller coaster ride. I have absolutely no regrets. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Remember to keep an eye out for Don Elbaum’s book titled Stories From Don Elbaum And Some Of Them Are True!


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