March 19, 2016 |
Sometimes you're just born with a powerful punch, that straight-off-the-street sledgehammer that can send an opponent's brain bouncing around his skull like a pinball. Mike Rafferty, the youngest and skinniest of four boys growing up in a Grays Ferry rowhouse, had to work for it. He built himself up in the old Augie's Gym at Ninth and Passyunk under the tutelage of Jimmy Arthur, a man who could teach a mouse to drop a cat. Rafferty harnessed power in his hips, found the footwork to drive his fist home, and pounded on his hands just the right way, so that at age 44 his knuckles still rise like a mountain range.
January 25, 2016 |
THE MOTHER in me is worried stupid about Paul Kroll. I want him to quit boxing because, at 20, his whole life is ahead of him. I don't want him to jeopardize it with blows suffered in the ring. I mean, have you seen Concussion ? But the long-ago boxing fan in me is like, "GO, PAUL! MAKE US PROUD!" What can I say? I was once so enamored of the beauty, bravery, and athleticism of the sweet science that I spent hours, solo, attending bouts at the elegantly decayed Blue Horizon boxing hall.
November 3, 2015 |
IN THIS, ITS 150th year of existence, Philadelphia's most cherished boxing venue, the Blue Horizon, appears to have come full circle. Thirty years ago, the Daily News' Rich Hofmann, noting the old brownstone's dilapidated condition, wrote that "the paint is three colors: pink, blue and peeling. " That flaky situation was reversed, at least temporarily, in 2002 when a $1 million grant from the State of Pennsylvania and a $1 million, low-interest loan from the Delaware River Port Authority enabled co-owners Vernoca Michael, Carol Ray and Carol M.A. Whitaker to make some much-needed repairs.
August 15, 2015 |
Even after he tested positive for a banned drug three years ago and was suspended for a year, Antonio Tarver did not believe his boxing career was over. "I admit that there were some doubts," Tarver said. "I mean, who wouldn't? But I always felt inside that there was more waiting for me. " While the odds are long, he may be right. A 1996 Olympic bronze medalist, Tarver, 46, still hopes to become the oldest fighter to win the heavyweight championship. Tarver (31-6, 22 knockouts) began his professional career at the Blue Horizon in 1997.
July 22, 2015 |
EDWIN "BO" DIAZ studied the boy who walked into the Feltonville gym where he was dishing out boxing lessons to neighborhood kids. Izzadeen Burgos was quiet, shy, wide-eyed. And he had one arm. Diaz, a Philadelphia police officer, already knew Izzy's story. He'd lost his left arm at age 2 when his father, Dennis Burgos, shot him with a high-powered hunting rifle. The boy overcame gruesome, life-threatening injuries. He stood before Diaz that spring day in 2005 because wanted to learn how to box. "I figured, 'Hey, why not?
May 27, 2015 |
IT WILL BE duly noted for historical purposes that "ESPN Friday Night Fights" ended its 17-year run on May 22 with a telecast from Corona, Calif., the co-featured bouts won by heavyweight Andrey Fedosov and junior middleweight John Thompson IV in the finals of the Boxcino tournament. But, from a purely emotional standpoint, the farewell show should have been on May 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, with 42-year-old Amir Mansour scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko, 18 years his junior, for the vacant Pennsylvania heavyweight championship.
February 28, 2015 |
The Blue Horizon may be considered "legendary" by some, but a panel of the Philadelphia Historical Commission considers the famed Moose Lodge-cum-boxing venue only a little bit historic. The historic designation committee, which reviews candidates for the local historic register, voted Thursday not to recommend the interior of the 1314-16 N. Broad St. site for designation. The building contains the city's last surviving intact boxing auditorium, an intimate 1,200-seat arena. At the same time, the panel decided that the exterior of the 19th-century brownstone complex "meets the criteria" for designation.
October 31, 2014 |
The list of endangered historic sites issued every year by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia did not make it through 2014. The alliance has demolished the venerable list. Replacing it will be a smaller group of threatened places that preservation officials exhort their supporters to save. Three times a year, the alliance will release a list of four "Places to Save," which will also be featured in a three-times-a-year magazine, Extant. The first list, just out, features a call for preservation of the Blue Horizon, the venerable boxing venue on North Broad Street now threatened by a hotel development.
September 30, 2014 |
MOST FIGHT FANS didn't know his real name, which is just as well because they probably wouldn't have been able to spell or pronounce it in any case. So the man with the velvety-smooth tones who came into this world as Setrha Ejdaharian - he was proud of his Armenian heritage and never considered legally changing his name - chose to call himself Ed Derian for professional purposes. For the better part of 4 decades, Ed Derian, who was 77 when he passed away Friday at Kindred Hospital in Havertown, was the distinctive voice of Philadelphia boxing, the longest tenured and most cherished ring announcer to have graced local rings.
August 22, 2014 |
The Delaware River Port Authority postponed action Wednesday on a measure that would have allowed commissioners and staffers subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to choose their own lawyers. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chaired the meeting, did not explain to fellow commissioners why the item was withdrawn from the agenda. It appeared, however, that the board would have lacked a quorum for a vote because the subpoenaed commissioners would have had to recuse themselves. While the authority would pay for the legal representation, DRPA deputy chief executive Michael Conallen said it was unclear if those under subpoena must use only authority-approved law firms that have agreed to a ceiling on their fees.