Jews In Sports: Exhibit Page @ Virtual Museum

Harold U. Ribalow and Meir Z. Ribalow
Page 137 of 457

Jews In American Sports


Joe Choynski

Frisco Flash 


Whenever heavyweights are mentioned in sports talk, the dialogue invariably turns to Daniel Mendoza, the first great Jewish heavyweight. But he fought so long ago, when boxing was in its swaddling clothes, that Mendoza is more of a legend than an actuality. It is fascinating to look at old sporting prints and see the heavyweights of old, in their now-funny stance, with their hands stretched out in the old-fashioned way which won the admiration of the spectators. Mendoza was one of the first heavies who made history in England, where the annals of boxing really began, or at least where modern boxing began. The Marquis of Queensberry rules are the ones which dominate the game today, and the Marquis was an Englishman.

But Mendoza was a personality of long ago and most of his fights are hidden behind a veil of the past; so well hidden, that most accounts are colored by time and by the impressionable reporters of that age, and most of them were not trained, unbiased sports writers, as are today's experts in the field. The first real heavyweight of modern importance who was also probably the greatest of all Jewish heavyweights, was Joe Choynski of San Francisco. Although Joe never held the heavyweight crown, he was acknowledged to be one of the foremost fighters of any era. What made his successes even more remarkable was the