Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Jewish Hall Of Fame: Barney Ross

The boxing icon and WWII veteran was World Champion in three weight divisons

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: June 11th, 2014 in Sports » Local

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today’s society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today’s younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife wih your suggestions.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Barry Ross

Born: December 23th, 1909, New York, New York

Died: January 18th, 1967, Chicago, Illinois

Jewish icon and boxing legend, Barnet Rasofsky, who later changed his name to Barney Ross, was born on December 23rd, 1909, into a Jewish Orthodox family which soon moved to Chicago from their home in New York. His father owned a store and was a devout man who held his religion in high honour. He firmly believed that his son should aspire to be a rabbi when he grew up but instead his son wanted to be a Talmudic scholar and Hebrew teacher.

However, in 1924, their family store was robbed and Ross’s father was shot to death. His mother, unable to handle the grief or the bills, had a breakdown and three of his four siblings were sent to live in an orphanage.

Ross, along with Morrie, his eldest brother, went to live with his cousins.

Ross, unable to let got of his pain from losing his father, renounced his religion and began committing petty crimes and brawling. He even claimed in his autobiography that he and a close friend, Jack Ruby, and worked for Al Capone during their early days. During his days as a small-time criminal, Ross took up amateur boxing and would compete in up to six fights a week in an attempt to earn enough money to get his siblings out of the orphanage and his mother back on her feet, which he would later accomplish.

At the age of 19, Barnet Rasofsky officially changed his name to Barney Ross in an attempt to appear more American as he began his career in the world of professional boxing. His first real big-ticket fight was against Tony Canzoneri, for the world lightweight championship in 1933. He won by a split decision and to prove he deserved to win, he squared off against Canzoneri in New York not long after and come out victorious.

Ross and Jimmy McLarnin faced off not too long after for the welterweight championship in a three match battle. Ross would go on to win the first fight in another split decision, but in the rematch with McLarnin five months later he would lose, also suffering his first and only knockout. Then in their final fight, Ross would go on to defeat McLarnin for the title.

His last fight in the ring would be a vicious one with Henry Armstrong in 1938, the only man to hold championship titles for featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions. The fight was a long one with audiences watching in horror as Ross suffered a major beating throughout most of the battle.

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