Inducted November 13, 1987
George Holzman could be characterized as an athletic jack of all trades and master of quite a few. The 58-year old has put a lot of athletic miles on his body, and he isn’t slowing down. On Nov. 13 at the Cameo Restaurant in Garfield, he might take a short break, but only to be inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, Roxing is just one of the sports at which he excelled.
“I started boxing while I was in the Marine Corps,” said Holzman, who grew up in Jersey City. “I had my first pro fight in March of 1949” when he knocked out Matty Ward in the 2nd round. After five years of boxing during which he compiled a 29-8-1 record, he retired at the age of 24. Although he never fought in a championship bout, Holzman did meet and defeat some pretty good middleweight fighters – Jimmy Flood, Sal DeMartino and Jimmy Doxie. Surprisingly, he upset some ranked middleweights – his decision over Flood, 38-4-1 at the time, as an example – but never was given a ranking himself.
“My manager wasn’t on the inside of boxing politics, so I didn’t get much respect,” he said. Still, he had no regrets about his career. “They were great days,” he said. “I quit because it wasn’t worth it. I never made much money – maybe a few thousand dollar in gross earnings, but that had to be shared.”
Georgie was a pretty good fighter,” veteran boxing publicist Carmine Bilotti said. “He was just born 30 years too early, and he competed in a weight class where there always have been lots of good fighters.”
After he completed his boxing career, and before he became employed at Anheuser-Busch Brewery in 1963, in Newark, he held part-time jobs as a comedy diver with a touring group called the Holiday Watercade. After that, he became a stunt man, appearing in nationally prominent television broadcasts of “Naked City,” “The Hawk,” starring Burt Reynolds, and “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
He gave up that life for a regular job because he became married and the father of five children, but continued to be active as an athlete, playing hardball for various teams, fast-pitch softball in Bayonne and basketball in the New Jersey State YMCA League.
In addition, Holzman was a handball player, having learned the game as a youngster in Jersey City and developing his skills in the courts at 16th Street Park in Bayonne, where he has been banging the ball against the walls for more than 30 years.
“I always wanted to last long enough in sports so that maybe I could play one with one of my children,” Holzman said, describing a fantasy enjoyed by many sports-minded fathers. “Handball is a lifetime sport, and I get to play doubles with my youngest son, Greg.. He carries me,” The truth is that 24-year old Greg, runnerup in the New Jersey State Four-Wall Handball Singles Tournament this year, and his father are practically unbeatable on the three-wall courts of 16th Street Park, where they play from mid-spring to mid-fall. While Greg is the better of the two Holzmans, his father always holds up his side of the court. This makes them one of the few father-and-son teams in the sport of handball and probably the best three-wall doubles team in New Jersey.
When George Holzman is inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in November, few people will be aware of it, but they will be honoring a man who has been retired from that sport for more than 30 years but remains active in another sport. But he remains a fighter – no one will be holding him up.
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