Saturday, April 23, 2016

On This Day: Ruby Goldstein: The Jewel of the Ghetto Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Ruby Goldstein was for a while one of the most popular boxers in the ring. He was an idol for many boxing fans, especially the Jewish boxing community, and much was expected of him.  He was seen by many as a future Lightweight champion of the world.

 ‘The Jewel of the Ghetto’ was a gifted boxer, with speed and technique, and a knockout punch, and seemed to be destined for the very top.  Born on October 7, 1907, in New York, New York, as an amateur he compiled a record of 19-0 with 9 knockouts, before turning professional in 1924, at the age of 17.   He quickly became a sensation with the fans, and put together a run of 23-0 (13koes) before being put in with top contender Ace Hudkins on June 25, 1926.  With hindsight it would turn out to be a disastrous mistake to match Ruby, who was still three months shy of being 19 years old, with the ferocious, battle-hardened Ace Hudkins.  ’The Jewel of the Ghetto’ was brutally wrecked at the hands of Hudkins. He was knocked out in the 4th round by a monstrous left-hook, which was described by the New York Times, as “apparently coming from the floor, and landing clean to the point of Goldstein’s chin, stretched Ruby on his back over the lower ring rope, where he swung to and fro for a space, his eyes gazing upward, but seeing nothing.”

The defeat to Hudkin’s was a set back from which Goldstein never fully recovered and he was never the same boxer again.  Three months later in his f upon his return to the ring since the Hudkin’s defeat, Goldstein was stopped in the 6th round by the unheralded Billy Alger, after injuring his ankle. Ruby did come back with a 6 fight winning streak, including a 6-rounds point’s victory over Jimmy Goodrich, that gave his fans hope that perhaps he would still live up to his promise.  Then on June 15, 1927, Sid Terris knocked out Goldstein in the 1st round.  Goldstein had put Terris down for a count of nine, but then been caught himself, and counted out.  It was clear now that Ruby had that fatal flaw that is dreaded by all boxers, and would-be champions a glass chin.

Ruby put together a 10 fight winning streak in the 3 years following the defeat to Terris, but on December 13, 1929, a second round knockout defeat, to Jimmy McLarnin, finally put an end to any remaining hopes of Ruby ever making it to the top.

Ruby would carry on fighting for another 8 years, but only sporadically, going 16-2, against most mediocre opposition. He was still a draw for the fans, although they were only too aware now of his flawed talent.  Goldstein won his last 12 bouts, before retiring in 1937, with a final record of 55(39koes)-6. 

After he retired from fighting, Goldstein a boxing referee.  By the 1950s he was one of the most respected, and popular referees in the sport, and still displaying the nimble footwork that had once made him one of the most talented boxers of his time.  Goldstein’s career as a referee ended on a tragic note on March 24, 1962, when he refereed the World welterweight title fight between Benny Paret and Emile Griffith, that ended with Griffith punching the defending champion Paret into unconsciousness in the 12th round, from which he would never awake.  Paret would lapse into a coma and die on April 3rd.

Although he had stepped in at the end, and stopped the fight when it became clear that Paret was laying on the ropes unconscious, and it was only Griffith’s punches that were keeping him up, Goldstein would face harsh criticism for not stopping the fight sooner.  The reality is that Goldstein was beaten by the speed of Griffith’s final fusillade of punches, some 25 of them, that landed before Goldstein was able to get between the two fighters, and stop the contest.

Goldstein would only work one more fight as a referee, when almost 2 years to the day; he was the 3rd official in the Luis Manuel Rodriguez vs. Holly Mims middleweight contest.  Goldstein would work two fights as a judge in late 1968, before he retired into a quieter life away from boxing. 

Watch Ruby Goldstein officiate Robinson Vs. Fullmer (1st meeting) January 2, 1957:

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

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