Brown, Newsboy : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Brown, Newsboy

Dave Montrose

Brown fought in the 1920s and 1930s as a flyweight and bantamweight. One of the most popular boxers of his day, he beat world champions in both weight classes, but none of the fights were for titles. In January 1928, he won the flyweight championship as recognized by the state of California (New York recognized another champ), but lost it eight months later.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1904 - d. 1977

Career Highlights:
Born in Russia, Brown emigrated to the U.S. as a boy with his parents. Raised in Sioux Falls, Iowa, he learned to fight while selling newspapers on street corners and then began boxing professionally in 1922. In one of his early fights, he acquired the name "Newsboy Brown" when the ring announcer began introducing him before realizing he had not learned his name. Only knowing that he had been a newsboy, the announcer said, "in this corner...the brown-skinned newsboy...Newsboy Brown." His first eight fights ended in no decisions, but then Brown registered his first official win with a third-round knockout of John Walker in April 1924.

1925 proved to be a big year for Brown as he was on the card at the grand opening of the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles in August. The event, attended by celebrities including Jack Dempsey and Rudolph Valentino, featured several six-round bouts and Brown won his over Frankie Grandetta. A resident of Los Angeles by this time, Brown gained a major following with his victory and became a popular fighter for the rest of his career. In October 1926, he fought world flyweight champion Fidel La Barba to a 10-round draw, but the bout was not for the title (he had previously drawn with La Barba in April 1925). The draw brought Newsboy to the center of the boxing world and he was considered the top challenger in the flyweight division.

In August 1927, with Brown on the verge of a title shot, the flyweight crown was thrown up for grabs when La Barba gave up his title. Brown suddenly found himself just another fighter in an elimination tournament to determine the next champion. Brown's talent, however, allowed him to reach the final bout, where he faced "Corporal" Izzy Schwartz at the famed Madison Square Garden on December 16 (on the undercard of the junior-lightweight title bout between Tod Morgan and Joe Glick). Newsboy had previously defeated Schwartz in 1925, dominating his opponent in a 10-round decision. In the title bout, Brown entered as a slight favorite and forced the fighting throughout, but lost the 15-round decision and Schwartz was world champ, although he was only recognized by the New York Commission.

Brown rebounded from the disappointing defeat to Schwartz the following month, and battled Johnny McCoy. McCoy was recognized as the world flyweight champion by the state of California, and Newsboy claimed that title when he defeated McCoy in a 10-round decision. Newsboy held the crown until August 1928 when he lost to Johnny Hill in a 15-round decision, and did not fight again that year. When he re-emerged the following year, Newsboy fought as a bantamweight and quickly became a contender, losing only once in 1929 and 1930 combined. On February 10, 1931, in Brown's first fight of the year, he faced Speedy Dado for the newly-created California bantamweight title (created by promoter Jack Doyle). Newsboy, considered the champion, and Dado went the full 10 rounds and, while not all spectators agreed, Dado was awarded the referee's decision (6 rounds to Dado, 1 to Brown, and 3 even). On March 3, the two boxers met again for the California title; this time, Brown removed all doubt, winning the rematch when he knocked Dado out in the third-round.

For the rest of 1931, Brown held the California title and continued to move up the bantamweight ranks; he defeated contenders Archie Bell and Eugene Huat. In December, Brown fought the world champion, Panama Al Brown, in a non-title fight (both fighters were over the 118-pound limit). Despite giving up inches in height and reach, Newsboy was the aggressor and was awarded the decision by the referee (it was Panama Al's first loss in over two years). Newsboy was never given a title shot by Panama Al Brown (who held the title until 1935), but faced good fighters until his retirement in 1933; he fought future featherweight champ "Baby" Arizmendi three times in 1932, losing twice and winning once. Newsboy's last fight was in April 1933 against Baby Casanova in Mexico; Newsboy was knocked out in the third round. Following his retirement, Brown coached movie star Tom Mix in fight scenes, and worked in Hollywood.


Physical description:
5'1", 109-119 pounds

Career Statistics:
Professional record:
Wins: 47 (8 by knockout)
Losses: 12
Draws: 5
No decisions: 2

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co, 1965)