By Ken Hissner: The first Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney fight was on September 23, 1926, and grossed $1,895,733 at the Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia.
A lot has changed since those days, but the club shows continue with such promotions like RDR Promotions, Kings Promotions, Joe Hand Promotions, and Jeter Promotions mostly at the 2300 Arena.
IBHOF Promoter J Russell Peltz finished his 50th year promoting from September 30, 1969, to October 4, 2019. He promoted some 547 events. His first 18 events were at the Legendary Blue Horizon until he promoted at the Arena. In August of 1971, Peltz had promoted at the Spectrum for the first time.
In 1980 Peltz started running regular shows in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at Resorts International casino. He would run at other casinos such as Claridge Hotel & Casino, Sands Casino Hotel, Playboy Hotel & Casino, Harrah’s Marina Hotel & Casino, Caesars Hotel and Casino, Tropicana Hotel & Casino, and Bally’s Atlantic City.
Some of the top boxers Peltz promoted were “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman, Sammy Goss, Richie Kates, Tyrone Everett, Curtis Parker, Jeff Chandler, Matthew Saad Muhammad, and Marvin Johnson.
Briscoe went to Argentina and drew with Carlos Monzon in 1967. It would take five years for the rematch with Monzon’s title on the line in 1972 back in Argentina, losing by decision. In 1973, 1974, and 1977 he lost in title fights to Rodrigo Valdes.
Peltz brought in out-of-town boxers who more or less made their name in Philly before going on to become world champions, such as “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Eddie Gregory aka Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Peltz would also have Marvin Johnson come in and take him to Marsala, Sicily, Italy, where he won the WBA light heavyweight title stopping Mate Parlov. His pride and joy was “Joltin” Jeff Chandler, winning the WBA Bantamweight title stopping Julian Solis in 1980. He also promoted Camden’s Jason Sosa, who won the WBA Super Featherweight title in Beijing, China. Peltz still does matchmaking for Joe Hand Promotions.
Philly’s reputation of boxers being put up against each other kept most of them so busy few fought for world titles. Hayward was promoted by Lou Lucchesse when he lost to WBC and WBA Super Welterweight champion Freddie Little.
Watts and Monroe defeated Hagler but never in a title fight. In 1976 setting an indoor record of attendance of 16, 019, Alfredo Escalera defended his WBC Junior Lightweight title, winning the most controversial fight I ever attended, defeating Philly’s Tyrone Everett. I scored it 13-2 in rounds in November of 1976, ending in a split decision. The Pennsylvania judge Lou Tress had it 145-143 for Escalera and never judged again.
There have been Philly world champions such as “Smokin” Joe Frazier, Harold Johnson, Joey Giardello, Gary Hinton, Danny “Swift” Garcia, Tommy Loughran, Benny Bass, Midge Wolgast, Danny Dougherty being the first in 1900 winning the Bantamweight title.
Others were such as Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Harry Lewis, Battling Levinsky, Johnny Jadick, Bob Montgomery, Percy Bassett, Sonny Liston, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, Buster Drayton, Meldrick Taylor, Robert “Bam Bam” Hines, Fred Pendleton, Bernard Hopkins, Nate “Mr.” Miller, Charles “Hatchet” Brewer, David Reid, Steve “SS” Cunningham, Tevin Farmer, Julian Williams and current WBC and WBO World Super Bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton.
Uncrowned champions include Everett, George Benton, and “Gypsy” Joe Harris. The latter won a non-title fight but was never given a rematch.