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November 08, 2002 - Image 102

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-08

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Cover Story


Barney Ross never went down for the count
in the ring or on Guadalcanal.

Special to the Jewish News


n Jan. 20, 1967, 400 mourn-
ers milled around a freshly
dug grave and watched.as Fr.
Frederick Gehring, a Catholic
priest, and a U.S. Marine honor guard
helped officiate at the funeral of one of
their comrades from the battle for
Guadalcanal. The deceased was a nice
Jewish boy named Barney Ross.
Barney was a few weeks shy of 32,
three years after his last professional
boxing match, when war broke out in
1941. By April 1942, he obtained an
age waiver and enlisted in the Marines.
Barney was 10 days shy of 14 when
his father was killed in a holdup on
Chicago's West Side. Isadore Rasofsky
was a kind, scholarly man who would
give you the shirt off his back but
moved too slowly for the two murder-
ers that day. He left a family of six
children and a grief-stricken widow.
Trying to earn a fast buck, Barney
eventually turned to boxing. He had
the requisite "heart of a giant," but was
only 5'7", with small hands on thin
arms. It takes guts and courage to step
into a ring, and Barney had plenty of
both. In time, he appeared in 250 ama-

Al Rasof, a cousin of Barney Ross, is a
West Bloomfield resident.



November was marked by huge air
teur bouts (selling the medals he won
and naval battles as the Japanese
for money to help his family). He won
the 1929 Intercity (Chicago/New York) attempted to reinforce their forces and
push back the Americans. On Nov.
Golden Gloves as a featherweight.
19, Barney and four other Marines
He held the lightweight, junior
formed a reconnaissance patrol.
welterweight and welterweight titles
Their patrol encountered a larger
during 81 professional fights. He lost
unit of the Japanese advanced guard,
only four fights and was never
searching for a weak spot in
knocked out.
the American lines. In the
The night he lost to Henry
Opposite page:
ensuing fire-fight, Ross was
Arm-strong in 1938, he was
the only Marine not
almost 29 and had been fight- Al Rasof holds
wounded. He helped the
ing for 13 years. He stayed
a photo of his
four to a small shell hole
the course on his wobbly feet famous cousin,
behind some fallen trees,
to the final bell, refusing to let Barney Ross.
where he helped them
the referee stop the fight.
defend themselves. Ross
The standing ovation the
fired from different positions, trying
crowd gave him was even greater than the
to give the impression of a stronger
applause the 60,000 fans showerecLon
him when he won the welterweight crown force, while the wounded Marines
loaded their wea-pons for him.
in 1934. His courage had won the heart
By nightfall, two of the Marines had
of every fight fan.
died. The two remaining Marines,
unable to move, told Ross to leave
The Next Fight
them and make it back to the
American lines under cover of dark-
Upon hearing the news about Pearl
Harbor, Barney couldn't wait to get his ness. But Ross, like in his Armstrong
fight, refused to quit.
affairs in order and do something for
When reinforcements finally rescued
his country. The thought of sitting out
them, the Marines had been in their
this fight didn't sit well with him.
hole for 13 hours. Around them lay
Refusing an assignment as a boxing
22 enemy dead. Ross, with shrapnel in
instructor, he entered the Guadalcanal
his leg and side, was disabled along
fray in the south Pacific on Nov. 4,
1942, coming ashore at Lunga Point.
CHAMPION on page 73

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