Brenner, Teddy "Matchmaker" : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Brenner, Teddy "Matchmaker"

Brenner, a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, has been widely acclaimed as the greatest matchmaker in boxing history. He had a knack -- first for Madison Square Garden, then for Top Rank, Inc. -- of finding boxers who matched up well, and giving the public their money's worth. Veteran trainer Gil Clancy said, "No question, he was No. 1. There was not even a No. 2. When he put on a fight, you could toss a coin most of the time who would win it." As Brenner himself said, his legacy was of "always trying to make matches I would pay to see."

Current Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said of Brenner, who passed away in January 2000, "In New York, the great debate was who was the greatest center fielder -- Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Duke Snider. And there are other debates in sports. In boxing, it has never been debatable. Teddy was the unchallenged, undisputed champion matchmaker. Everybody else was a distant whatever. There was never any controversy over that." Promoter Bob Arum, head of Top Rank, observed that "There is Teddy Brenner, and there is everybody else...He was clearly the best. He was a great person, a fantastic boxing man, and there will never be a matchmaker to equal him."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. April 25, 1917 - d. January 7, 2000

Career Highlights:
Brenner's first exposure to boxing came while growing up in Brooklyn as a teenager. He explained, "I used to be around with fighters from the time I went to high school...when [friend Davey Goodman]...entered the 1934 Golden Gloves, I worked his corner as a lark. I was 17 years old then." After serving in the Navy in World War II, Brenner returned to the fight game in 1946 when a friend of his, boxing manager Irving Cohen (Rocky Graziano was one of his boxers), asked him to help set up fights at a club Cohen ran. Brenner recalled that "I tried it and it wound up being a very successful club...that was the beginning of my career as a matchmaker."

In 1947, Brenner became the assistant matchmaker at Madison Square Garden, where he stayed until 1978. During that time, he played a large role in the success of the Garden as the mecca of boxing and in 1971, brought the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight to New York. That same year, Brenner was awarded the Boxing Writers' Association of America James J. Walker Award (for long and meritorious service). In 1978, he formed Teddy Brenner Enterprises before joining Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. two years later. He continued to have success, and made fights for the likes of Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez and Alexis Arguello, bringing them to the U.S. and helping turn them into high-profile boxers. By the early 1990s, Brenner remained with Top Rank but was mostly inactive.

Brooklyn, New York

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