Undefeated Massachusetts middleweight Dana Rosenblatt (14-0, 13 knockouts), who fights journeyman Dan Mitchell at Martin's West tomorrow night, is rekindling a rich boxing tradition that dates to the 1920s and 1930s, when the likes of Benny Leonard, Izzy Schwartz, Barney Ross, Jackie Fields and Maxie Rosenbloom were world champions.
"Yes, I hear it all the time," said Rosenblatt, an honors student at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, Mass., who plans to major in psychology. "People always ask, 'What's a nice, smart Jewish boy like you doing fighting?' "
That's not a new attitude. As the story goes, the parents of Leonard (born Benjamin Leiner) were so opposed to his fighting professionally, he was forced to adopt a pseudonym. One day, however, a neighbor spotted Leonard's picture on a fight poster and hurried to inform his mother of her son's secret life.
Sensing trouble, Leonard crept into his house undetected after another quick knockout victory, and deposited several hundred dollars from his fight purse onto the kitchen table.
When his mother discovered the money, she embraced her son and said, "So, Benny, when's your next fight?"
"No," Rosenblatt said, laughing, "it hasn't been quite like that for me. My father is a big boxing fan and comes to all my fights. My mother is still fearful of my getting hurt and won't watch me fight, but she lends silent support."
For Rosenblatt, 21, boxing was a natural progression after he enjoyed earlier success competing in judo, karate and as a professional kick boxer. Veteran Boston fight manager Joe Lake first booked Rosenblatt overseas as a kick boxer, but the matches were infrequent and the purses modest.
"There was no financial future for Dana in kick boxing," Lake said. "Besides, his boxing skills were always superior. He always rTC
performed the mandatory kicks, but it was his punching power that carried him. So, boxing has been an easy transition for him."
Rosenblatt said his early training in the martial arts helped develop his ring skills.
"From judo, I learned balance and how to use my strength," he said. "The same with karate and kick boxing. They taught me how to avoid blows and counter effectively."
Using Julio Cesar Chavez and Marvelous Marvin Hagler as his role models, Rosenblatt made his pro boxing debut in Baltimore on April 15, 1992, on a Stuart Satosky promotion. He stopped Tyrone Griffith in the second round. He needed only one round to dispose of Ivory Teague in a return visit last November.
A natural puncher, Rosenblatt has won all but two of his fights by knockouts. Two opponents lasted the six-round distance, but Rosenblatt said: "I've yet to lose a round as a pro."
He has become a popular box-office attraction in New England, appearing frequently at the Foxwood Casino on an Indian reservation in Lenyard, Conn.
"We've got two boxing promoters up here who are feverishly competing to use Dana on their shows," Lake said. "But Satosky helped launch his career, and Dana has already developed a strong following in Baltimore."
Fighting almost every month, Rosenblatt hopes to be ranked among the country's top middleweights by year's end.
"By December, I'd like to be fighting guys like [former contender] Brett Lally," he said. "That should tell me whether I'm ready to move up the ladder."
Who: Jason Waller (20-3-1, 14 KOs), Stafford, Va., vs. Joel Humm (16-6, 11 KOs), Pittsburgh, 10 rounds, heavyweights.
Co-feature: Dana Rosenblatt (14-0, 13 KOs), Malden, Mass., vs. Dan Mitchell, (15-21, 6 KOs), Pittsburgh, eight rounds, middleweights.
Where: Martin's West, 6800 Dogwood Road, Woodlawn.
When: Tomorrow night, first preliminary bout 7:30.
Promoter: Stuart Satosky
PD Tickets: Ringside, $35; reserved, $25; general admission, $20.