Max Baer and Bar­ney Ross: Jew­ish Heroes of Boxing

Jef­frey Sussman
  • From the Publisher
September 8, 2016

In the 1920s and 30s, anti-Semi­tism was rife in the Unit­ed States and Europe. Jews need­ed sym­bols of strength and demon­stra­tions of courage against their ene­mies, and they found both in two cham­pi­ons of box­ing: Max Baer and Bar­ney Ross. Baer was the only Jew­ish heavy­weight cham­pi­on in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, while Ross was con­sid­ered one of the great­est wel­ter­weight and light­weight cham­pi­ons of the era. Although their careers nev­er crossed paths, their box­ing tri­umphs played a com­mon role in lift­ing the spir­its of per­se­cut­ed Jews.

In Max Baer and Bar­ney Ross: Jew­ish Heroes of Box­ing, Jef­frey Suss­man chron­i­cles the lives of two men whose suc­cess­ful bouts inside the ring served as inspi­ra­tion for Jew­ish fans across the coun­try and around the world. Though they came from very dif­fer­ent back­grounds — Baer grew up on his family’s ranch in Cal­i­for­nia, while Ross roamed the tough streets of Chica­go and was a run­ner for Al Capone — both would bask in the lime­light as box­ing cham­pi­ons. Their sto­ries include leg­endary encoun­ters with such oppo­nents as Jim­my McLarnin (known as the Jew Killer), Max Schmel­ing (Hitler’s favorite ath­lete), and Pri­mo Carn­era (a sad giant con­trolled and mis­treat­ed by gangsters).

While recount­ing the exploits of these two men, the author also paints an evoca­tive pic­ture of box­ing and the cru­cial role it played in an era of anti-Semi­tism. A vivid and engag­ing look at these two heroes and the dif­fi­cult era in which they lived, Max Baer and Bar­ney Ross will appeal to box­ing fans, sports his­to­ri­ans, and any­one inter­est­ed in Jew­ish history.

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