By Jackie Kallen
Being a Jewish fighter was not so unusual or special back when Benny Leonard, Barney Ross and Maxie Rosenbloom were competing. But in recent years, the only notable Jewish boxers have been Dmitry Salita and Yuri Foreman. Both men won world titles.
Hoping to match (or exceed) their achievements is New York’s Cletus Seldin, known as The Hebrew Hammer. The 25 year old welterweight is hoping to make a name for himself and is off to a good start. His record is 6-0 (4). He has been pro since July 2011 and is set to fight Marcus Hall in Huntington, New York on March 31.
Trainer/manager Pete Brodsky says he is high on his kid because “Seldin has a toughness and dedication that is hard to find these days.” Training in both Florida and New York, Seldin is improving with each fight and is a naturally gifted athlete. He was a three-sport threat in high school: Wrestling, lacrosse, and football.
“He was a bodybuilder and personal trainer for awhile,” said Brodsky, “and then he decided to try his hand at MMA and boxing. He preferred boxing and fought some Golden Gloves before turning pro last year.”
His pro debut was at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida against a 2-1 fighter named Wilson Feliciano. Seldin stopped him in the third round. Two weeks later in Brooklyn, NY he fought Hector Rivera and beat him every round to win the decision. Then it was back to Florida a couple of months later to face undefeated Clarence Booth.
“I beat him pretty badly, “Seldin said proudly.” It should have been stopped but the ref let it go.” Seldin had a point deducted in the 2nd round for roughing Booth up, but still won unanimously.
Seldin has had three more KOs since then and is excited about his future.
“I love what I do. I am an ‘old school’ fighter. I hit hard and I go in there for a knockout. If I want to get the rounds in–I have sparring for that. I try to stop everyone I face.”
The Star of David is prominently displayed on his trunks and robe and the back of the robe says “Remember the Masada.” He says he always wears purple and white to honor his girlfriend of seven years, Katelin McIsaac, who had Hodghkin’s Disease. Not an orthodox Jew who refuses to fight after Sundown on the sabbath, Seldin is a reform Jew who says he is not fanatical about religion.
“I am an American Jew,” he explained. “I was bar mitzvahed and my mom goes to temple. But we don’t keep kosher or anything like that.”
Seldin says his favorite boxers of all time include Jake LaMotta, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano. He also compares himself a little to Aaron Pryor.
The fans on Long Island must agree since Seldin is a huge ticket seller who fills the seats at The Paramount every time he fights. He is building a solid fan base and hopes to expand it as he continues to rack up knockouts and wins.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen