A Look at The Champs

Event: New York

Published January 19, 2007, issue of January 19, 2007.
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Inspired by tales of legendary fighters Jack “Kid” Berg, Lew Tendler and Barney Ross, Brooklyn-based artist Charles Miller turned his canvas toward the ring to create a series of paintings focused on Jews who dominated the sport of boxing in the early 20th century.

Between 1910 and 1940, there were 27 Jewish world-boxing champions, and during this time period there were some 20,000 amateur and professional Jewish boxers. The sons of Eastern European immigrants, most of the men took up the sport in a desperate attempt to earn a living during a time when poorly paid manual labor jobs were hard to come by. But being a professional boxer was considered shameful in the Jewish community, and many fought under false Irish- and Italian-sounding names. The exhibit, Jewish Boxers, features oil paintings of fighters dressed in traditional boxing gear, as if posed for a photograph.

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