Inducted on November 10, 2011
Don Elbaum started in the boxing game when he was 13, writing for the Erie (Pa.) Times. Nobody really knows how old he is; it’s the best-kept secret in boxing. But he’s worked with a virtual who’s-who in boxing, with various early fights of Muhammad Ali to Aaron Pryor to heavyweight “Fast” Eddie Chambers. Elbaum can tell more about boxing stats than anybody I know of. He doesn’t want to be called a character; he’d rather be called a “boxing personality.”
Elbaum boxed as an amateur and a pro. He’s boxed on cards he’s promoted. He’s always been very outgoing. He worked in the business doing various things, such as being a second, a boxer, a promoter, and a writer.
Here are some questions I presented to Don.
When did you get started in boxing?
I saw my first fight at the age of eight; I saw the great Willie Pep in New Bedford, MA. Had my first amateur fight at 13; I was writing for the Erie Times, Erie, PA, predicting the Wednesday and Friday night TV fights. Started matchmaking at 15; I promoted my first fight at 17.
Did you have any amateur or pro fights?
Amateur record: 40 and 10. Pro: 6-3-1.
What’s your favorite book or movie on boxing?
Favorite books: Only in America, Jack Newfield; Gladiators of the Prize Ring and Hero’s of all Nations by Billy Edwards.
Movies: The Set Up; Raging Bull
How would you change the state of boxing today if you could?
We need a Judge Landis type of National Commissioner (not one picked by the US government because the government messes everything up). Too many state boxing commissioners have no real knowledge or feel for the sport. They are not helping it; they are bringing it down. Commissioners should be commissioners (not promoters, matchmakers or managers). Bring back 15 round world championship fights and let’s see who the real champions are.
Give me some insight on boxing promotion, and who are some of the fighters you have promoted?
The boxing promotions I will talk to you about; it is too long to write about and I am not sure what you are looking for. Fighters that I have handled or promoted: Aaron Pryor, Cassius Clay, Sugar Ray Robinson (his last 3 or 4 bouts), Roberto Duran and many other champions and world ranked fighters. One of the great thrills is I put Willie Pep on Ray Robinson’s last fight (1965 against Joey Archer in Pittsburgh). To have both on the same card that I promoted was one great night. In New Jersey I did over 150 fights, in Atlantic City, the “Tuesday at the Trop” at the Tropicana, from 1981 till 1986.
I heard you promoted an all-opponent boxing card at one time. Could you give me some insight on this?
I did a match in Warren, Ohio between two fighters: Bob Spencer of Warren, Ohio and Johnny Howard of Cleveland, Ohio. Neither fighter has ever won a fight. I built the fight up as a fight between two of the world’s worst fighters. I had a contract made with an attorney that both fighters signed stating: whoever lost could never fight again! I had a 3 ½ foot trophy made; on the bottom of the trophy was written: The World’s Worst Fighter. In the Warren paper, it showed a photo of the two fighters pushing the trophy toward each other – neither one wanted it! It got so much publicity that the arena was packed. I made this the main event. It was the fight of the year. Unbelievably, the decision was a draw!
I also heard you started Don King. Could you give me some insight on that?
Yes – and I’ve been apologizing to the world ever since!
Where have you promoted some of your fights?
New York, Vegas, Atlantic City, Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami, Chicago and probably another hundred cities in the US.
Countries: Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, France, Hungary, Italy, etc. etc. etc.
And if you listen to Russell Peltz – Mars!
Do you ever think you’ll be in the International Boxing Hall of Fame?
Ask the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Do you ever think they’ll do a book or movie on your life?
I am working on a book at this time.
Could you tell me anything positive or negative about your career thus far?
It’s been an incredible roller coaster ride. I have absolutely no regrets. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!