Maxie Rosenbloom, ‘The Harlem Harlequin’

January 9, 2014

Max Everitt Rosenbloom, known as Slapsie Maxie (November 1, 1907 – March 6, 1976) lived in East Harlem as a young kid, was an American boxer, actor, and television personality.

One of the numerous legends wrapped around Maxie Rosenbloom suggests that he was “discovered” by the actor George Raft. Raft may or may not have been walking through East Harlem one day, saw young Rosenbloom in a street fight, and may or may not have encouraged him to learn to box.

Born in Leonard’s Bridge, Connecticut, Rosenbloom was nicknamed “Slapsie Maxie” by a journalist due to his open gloved style of boxing. Another called him “The Harlem Harlequin,” because he loved to clown around, to “avoid training, to gamble and to chase women.” He also continued to box, albeit with a style the New York Times described in 1930 as “slapping, cuffing, clubbing and mauling.” In 1930, he won the New York light heavyweight title. In 1932, he won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World. He held and defended the title until November 1934, when he lost it to Bob Olin. As a professional boxer, Rosenbloom relied on hitting and moving to score points. He was very difficult to hit cleanly with a power punch and his fights often went the full number of required rounds. In his boxing matches he suffered thousands of head punches, which eventually led to the deterioration of his motor functions.

In 1937, he accepted a role in a Hollywood film. He became a character actor, portraying comical “big guys,” in movies that included Each Dawn I Die. After retiring from boxing in 1939 he operated nightclubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He continued acting on radio, television, and in a number of films, usually playing comedy roles as a big, clumsy, punch-drunk—but lovable—lout. He appeared in a number of episodes (playing himself)of the Fred Allen Radio Show – including a skit with Marlene Dietrich. Rosenbloom played an important part in television’s first 90-minute drama, Requiem for a Heavyweight, written by Rod Serling, and starring Jack Palance as a boxer at the end of his career. Rosenbloom played an ex pug, whose life revolved around retelling old boxing stories night after night to other ex-pugs in a down and out bar. It is the fate that looms for Palance (as “Mountain McClintock“) if he cannot adjust to a new life outside the ring.

In The Honeymooners episode “TV Or Not TV,” Jackie Gleason’s character, Ralph Kramden, reads aloud a TV listing from the newspaper, “Fights Of The World: Maxie Rosenbloom vs. Kingfish Levinsky.”

Rosenbloom died of Paget’s disease of bone in 1976 at the age of 68,and was interred in the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.

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Rosenbloom was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1972.

In 1984 he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In 1929, he had fought with four other Jewish boxers in a benefit at Madison Square Garden to raise relief funds for Palestine. During 1935, he postponed a scheduled fight with Tiger Jack Fox that was scheduled to fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur so that they could take place after the Jewish holidays.

Rosenbloom was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1985.

In 1993 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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