Bernard Fernandez: Aurit back at Temple to teach boxing

Posted: August 23, 2011

AFTER AN absence of more than a decade, Ron Aurit is returning to a college campus to teach boxing - safe, non-contact boxing - to students interested in incorporating a fighter's training techniques into their own fitness regimens.

If enough students register for the non-credit program, it will begin on Sept. 29. Given the short notice Aurit had to put things together, he might have to wait until January before he gets back to offering instruction in the sport he so dearly loves.

But whether it's later rather than sooner, Aurit, a former physical education teacher at Simon Gratz, South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and Lincoln high schools, is delighted to have another opportunity to pass along some of the knowledge he has accumulated as a Golden Gloves (he once squared off with a young Sugar Ray Leonard in the amateurs) and professional boxer (he compiled a 12-2-1 record as a lightweight from 1977 to '81) and as a licensed referee with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. The fact that it's at his alma mater - he graduated from Temple with a degree in health and physical education in 1974 - is all the more gratifying.

He taught boxing for free at Temple from 1972 to '76, and one of his students, Joe Klecko - a standout defensive lineman for the Owls and later the New York Jets - went on to win the Eastern intercollegiate heavyweight championship.

Aurit, 61, switched from Temple to Penn in '76 in part because he got a better offer: He received some financial compensation (from students, not the university).

In addition to his non-contact tutorials, Aurit also taught competitive boxing, which involved sparring. One of his Penn students, Steven McNeal, was the 139-pound champion in the 1979 National Collegiate Boxing Championships in West Chester.

Eventually, Aurit concentrated his teaching solely on the non-contact aspects of boxing and, in 1998, his class was officially folded into Penn's Department of Recreation. It remained so until Jan. 25, 2001, when it was canceled after an assistant athletic director of recreation complained of observing some of Aurit's more accomplished students hit one another.

Despite written assurances by class members that Aurit's no-contact rule was strictly enforced, and that there was only an illusion of blows being struck, in the manner of actors "fighting" in a movie, the cancellation stuck. "The Yid Kid" said in The Daily Pennsylvanian he "felt as though I had been killed. I gave Penn my life and my soul."

Aurit - whose Boxing Scholarship Foundation has provided financial assistance to amateur boxers seeking to further their educational goals and was instrumental in staging five Boxers Balls - was teaching boxing, mostly to adults, on Monday nights at Lower Moreland High when he was contacted by Temple sophomore Benjamin Pipic about putting together a boxing program where it all started for Aurit almost 40 years ago.

A few calls were made, and Aurit's return to Temple was greenlighted by Steve Young, director of campus recreation, and John Doman, associate director for facilities in the Division of Student Affairs, provided certain conditions were met. Aurit has been meticulous in making sure all of the guidelines set down by Young and Doman are being followed.

With former pro boxers from Michael Olajide to Laila Ali putting out fitness videos in recent years, it should come as no surprise that college students would want in on the kind of training that could lead to Evander Holyfield's six-pack abs, without the bloody noses and fat lips.

I'm guessing Aurit's second-time-around program at Temple becomes just as much of a hit, if you'll pardon the expression.

Temple students interested in Aurit's program should email him at bsf1989@verizon.net.

Briscoe winners named

The fourth annual Briscoe Awards, created by John DiSanto, of phillyboxinghistory.com and named for the late, great North Philadelphia middleweight, Bennie Briscoe, will be presented Oct. 10 at the Veterans Boxers Association Ring One club, 2733 E. Clearfield St. in Port Richmond.

A panel of Briscoe Awards voters selected Steve "USS" Cunningham, the IBF cruiserweight champion, as the 2010 Philadelphia Fighter of the Year and Derek "Pooh" Ennis' retention of his USBA junior middleweight title, on a 12-round majority decision over Gabriel Rosado, as the 2010 Philadelphia Fight of the Year.

Cunningham, a former IBF cruiser champ, fought only once last year, but the Navy veteran ascended to the title a second time by stopping Troy Ross in five rounds in Neubrandenburg, Germany.

Shaun still inspires

The third annual Shaun Negler Memorial Golf Outing and Beef-n-Beer will be held Saturday at the Bensalem Country Club. Shaun Negler, one of Bernard Hopkins' most devoted fans, was only 18 when he died on Oct. 23, 2008, after a lengthy battle with cancer. B-Hop was a pallbearer at Shaun's funeral and placed the gloves and handwraps he wore for his memorable points victory over the favored Kelly Pavlik on Oct. 18, 2008, in the coffin.

The golf outing is sold out, but tickets for the Beef-n-Beer, priced at $35, remain.

All proceeds go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation chapters in Philadelphia and the Susquehanna Valley. Last year's event raised more than $10,000 for that worthy cause. More information at www.ShaunStrong.com.

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