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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Look Back: Mike Rossman

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will present monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

Mike Rossman holds the distinction of being one of a handful of Jewish boxers to win a world championship since 1940. Nicknamed "The Jewish Bomber" and "The Kosher Butcher," Rossman won the WBA light heavyweight title in 1978.

Michael DePiano was born to an Italian father and Jewish mother in Turnerville, New Jersey on July 1. He told Ken Hissner, "I was born in 1956, but had to say 1955 back then in order to turn professional." Mike took his mother's maiden name, Rossman, when he turned pro in 1973. During his first fight, in Atlantic City on August 10, his mother Celia heard yells from the crowd such as,"Get that Jew!" Rossman won by way of second round KO. Despite the taunts, Rossman told Thomas Hauser, "I'm proud of being Jewish." He started his career 21-0-1.

Rossman's first loss was a split decision defeat at the hands of Mike Nixon on May 19, 1975. Two and half months later, the New Jersey native avenged that loss by seventh round KO. Mike then lost to Mike Quarry. He would later defeat Quarry twice. In December of 1976, he eked out a majority decision. In May of 1977, Quarry retired after the sixth round.

On May 3, 1978, Rossman faced Yaqui Lopez in New York. The fight started at a feverish pace. Rossman was effective early, causing a cut near Lopez's right eye in the premier round. The two established a rhythm from the outset; Rossman leading with jabs and Lopez countering. But Lopez was able to find the range against his taller opponent in the third. His continuous pressure wore down Rossman. Yet Rossman kept fighting back, causing a new cut in the fourth, this time near Lopez's left eye. Mike withstood a series of horrific shots in the sixth, but managed to remain upright. By the time the bell sounded, Rossman was out on his feet. His corner stopped the fight.

Two second round knockouts later, Rossman had the chance of a lifetime. At 22 years old, Rossman was a heavy underdog against the WBA light heavyweight champion, Victor Galindez. The Argentine had held the title for four years and was making his eleventh defense. Sporting long blue shorts stitched with "MR" and a Star of David, Rossman took the lead early. He kept the shorter Galindez at range with his jab and lead rights. Galindez was cut over the right eye in the middle rounds. Rossman was able to reopen the cut on several occasions.

The Jewish Bomber had never gone past ten rounds in his career. It was a grueling brawl against a tough champion. But Mike would not be denied. He forced Galindez against the ropes in the later rounds and went to work. Galindez was pinned against those ropes early in the 13th round and received several combinations before the fight was stopped.

Rossman made one successful defense, beating Aldo Traversaro by way of sixth round TKO. There was talk he would face a faded Muhammad Ali. Instead, he gave Galindez a rematch. After a false start due to a Galindez protest over officials, the two faced on April 4, 1979. Rossman got off to another quick start, snapping the jab out of his high guard. But Galindez counted a fan in referee Stanley Christodoulou.

Christodoulou had a history of favoring the Argentine in Galindez's previous fights. The same held true on this night. Galindez threw a vicious kidney punch in the fourth. He butted the Jewish champion. He was allowed to hold and hit. The worst offense came after a Galindez legal left hook followed by a right uppercut. The bell rang, but Galindez continued to punch a wobbled Rossman. The referee allowed the beating to continue for a few seconds. Rossman's brother Andy took exception and flew into the ring and ran after Galindez. Galindez then started throwing punches at Andy, who returned fire.

Galindez's pressure was too much and Rossman could not deal with the pain of a broken right hand. The fight was stopped before the start of the tenth round. Galindez broke a sacred rule of boxing by taunting Rossman after the fight and calling the Jewish warrior a chicken.

During his career, Rossman was falsely accused of not being tough. He endured numerous hard fought battles. Unfortunately, at the end of his career, he showed his toughness too often. The superior defense he exhibited early in his career left him and he was easy to hit. The coming years were rough. He and his father- his former manager- no longer worked together. Rossman parted with his trainer Slim Jim Robinson.

His boxing skills also deteriorated though he still hung around the top ten in the alphabet organizations' rankings. Despite being significantly shorter, future light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi out jabbed Rossman, who was known for being a great jabber. Qawi stopped the game Rossman in seven rounds in 1981. Mike was out of the ring for nearly two years afterwards.

Rossman retired from the ring in 1983 at the age of 27 with a record of 44-7-3 (27 KOs). He was understandably bitter about the way boxing, a sport to which he had given his soul, had treated him. He soon got a job with Roofers Union Local #30 out of Atlantic City, where he's lived for many years.

Victor Galindez vs. Mike Rossman I
September 15, 1978
New Orleans, Louisiana
Superdome
WBA light heavyweight championship
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5


Bibliography
Hauser, Thomas. Muhammad Ali & Company: Inside the World of Professional Boxing. 1998.
Putnam, Pat. "This Was The Fight That Wasn't." 1979.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Rossman-Galindez I like it was yesterday;it's one of my alltime favorite fights-and I remember hoping Argentina's Adolf Eichmann wannabees were also watching it.I used to also like watching Galindez(who turned out to be a jerk-as did his obviously greater lonzman Carlos Monzon-both of whom died in auto accidents).Galindez,used to like to fight moving backwards-as was evident from the first time I saw him against Ray Elson(whom some of us were also speculating was Jewish),Against Rossman-unlike Elson,Galindez was getting seriously busted up.Then there's that weird postponement and Galindez-Rossman II "fight"..

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