Thanks to everyone who came down to last night’s Uni Watch confab in Dallas. It was great meeting all of you. Photos of the Dallas and San Francsico gatherings to follow next week.
Meanwhile: I can clearly remember sitting on my parents’ living room sofa and watching the first light-heavyweight title bout between Mike Rossman and Victor Galindez in 1978. What really struck me was that Rossman had celebrated his Jewish heritage by wearing the Star of David on his trunks. It had never occurred to me before that Jews could be tough guys (obviously, I had a lot to learn about Meyer Lansky, to say nothing of Ariel Sharon), or that a tough guy would brag about being Jewish.
Those stereotypes, along with an interesting uni-related trend, come into sharper focus in the work of Charles Miller, a painter whose work is currently being displayed at Think Tank 3 in Manhattan. Miller specializes in portraits of Jewish boxers who fought between 1910 and 1940 — a period that featured 27 Jewish world champions in various weight classes. And apparently Mike Rossman was in good company, uni-wise, because a lot of these early Jewish fighters wore the Star of David on their trunks, including Ruby Goldstein, Al “Bummy” Davis, Jackie “Kid” Berg, Sid Terris, Benny “Baruch” May, “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom, “Lefty” Lew Tendler, and Maxie Berger (plus Charlie Beecher wore Hebrew lettering). For all the Christian symbolism we see in sports, I can’t think of a boxer who’s worn the cross on his trunks, although there are several who’ve cited Biblical verses on their trunks or waistbands.
According to Miller’s excellent web site, he got the Jewish boxing bug from a book called When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport. I haven’t gotten around to ordering it yet, but it’s on my list.
As for Mike Rossman, dig this: His real name is actually Mike DiPiano. His father was Italian, and Rossman was his mother’s maiden name (a pizza bagel!), but he fought as Rossman and was known as the Jewish Bomber. The following video shows a round from his 1977 bout against Mike Quarry, with Rossman wearing the colors of the Israeli flag and the Irish-American Quarry wearing green. The announcers make specific mention of the heritage-based trunks. Check it out:
Uni Watch News Ticker: The NHL’s on-again/off-again plans to have teams wear white at home next season now appear to on again, at least according to this report (as spotted by Adam Koenigsberg). … Lengthy article here about Formula 1 paint jobs (with thanks to Kevin Burns). … Due to French regulations against gambling sponsorships, the European Unibet.com cycling team had to wear question mark jerseys at the Etoile de Bessèges. Full details here (with thanks to Mike Edgerley). … The Tigers are bringing an antique hat stretcher with them to spring training. Full details here (courtesy of Stuart Davidson). … Lots of uni-related stuff in the Phillies’ equipment truck too (as spotted by Bryan Redemske). … Those Pro Bowl uniforms look really, uh, sharp.