Ruby Goldstein

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Ruby Goldstein
Real nameReuven Goldstein
Nickname(s)The Jewel of the Ghetto
Height5 ft 4.5 in (1.64 m)
NationalityUnited States American
Born(1907-10-07)October 7, 1907
Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York
DiedApril 23, 1984(1984-04-23) (aged 76)
Miami Beach, Florida
Boxing record
Total fights60
Wins by KO38
No contests0

Reuven "Ruby" Goldstein (October 7, 1907 – April 23, 1984), the "Jewel Of The Ghetto," was an American boxer and prize fight referee. He was a serious World Lightweight Championship contender in the 1920s, and became one of America's most trusted and respected boxing referees in the 1950s. During his boxing career, he was trained and managed by Hymie Cantor.[1][2]

Early life and boxing career[edit]

Ruby Goldstein was born on Cherry Street, in a small three room apartment on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. His widowed mother, whose husband had died a few months before Goldstein was born, took in sewing and washing in an effort to raise her four children.[3] Before he became a referee, Goldstein boxed professionally from 1925 to 1937. Nicknamed the "Jewel of the Ghetto," Goldstein was a smooth boxing, hard punching lightweight and later welterweight with a large following in his hometown of New York City.[1] He lost only six fights in his professional career and an astounding 70 percent of his wins were by knockout or technical knockout.

Goldstein dropped out of school around 14 to take an office job, but was boxing as an amateur by sixteen. He started his boxing training as an anemic looking bantamweight at around 125 pounds, and boxed almost exclusively in the lightweight range between 1923–28, impressively winning all but three of his first thirty-two fights from December 1924 and June 15, 1927. On that date he lost to the extraordinary, Sid Terris in a first-round knockout at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Terris was considered by many to have been one of the fastest lightweights of the era, as well as possessing the best defensive skills.[1]

On May 11, 1925 Goldstein won a six-round points decision against Ray Mitchell at the Pioneer Sporting Club in New York City.[2]

Win against Tony Vacarelli[edit]

On May 17, 1926, Goldstein, fighting at 136 1/2 pounds, won a sixth-round technical knockout against Tony Vacarelli in Madison Square Garden. The Scranton Republican wrote that "Goldstein...scored a technical knockout over a rugged veteran, Tony Vacarelli in the middle of the final round. Goldstein, hailed as a lightweight championship prospect, gave a dazzling exhibition of footwork, boxing skill and hitting, battering Vacarelli into such helplessness that the referee stopped the fight."[4] It was an impressive win as Vacarelli had not previously been knocked out.[5]

Knockout loss to Ace Hudkins in June 1926[edit]

According to some boxing historians[who?], Goldstein could not take a hard punch to the chin as well as some top contenders, and was stopped in the three major fights he fought against Jimmy McLarnin, Ace Hudkins, and fellow New Yorker Terris as a result. His youth, reckless management, and the exceptional quality of his opponents could also explain his knockout losses. He met Hudkins as a lightweight on June 25, 1926 at Coney Island Stadium in Brooklyn, before 18,000 fans, losing in a fourth-round knockout. Hudkins took the Nebraska State Lightweight title in February 1924. Hudkins was down on the mat for a count of five in the first round from a right cross to the jaw, and Goldstein appeared to be winning the bout. Goldstein took the second round by a good margin, with the third close to a draw. In the fourth, Hudkins floored Goldstein twice with rights and lefts, before ending the bout with a right to the jaw for the final count of ten, with Goldstein down on the mat still holding to the ropes.[6] Goldstein was only eighteen at the time of the bout, and may have lacked the defensive skills or endurance to withstand the blows of Hudkins. He had not been knocked out before, and according to the Lincoln Star, had won twenty-three consecutive bouts prior to the match.

Knockout loss to Billy Alger in September 1926[edit]

On September 24, 1926, Goldstein lost a sixth-round technical knockout to Billy Alger at Dreamland Rink in San Francisco, California. The loss by Goldstein was so rare that some suspected poor management. A few speculated Waxy Gordon, a crime boss, who may have held a significant percentage of his contract, had influenced the outcome of the bout. Goldstein refused to come out for the sixth because of a badly sprained ankle, but some believe he had risen too soon from a knockdown or been unwisely influenced to face a boxer at only eighteen with whom he was overmatched, particularly after a previous loss in June.[2] Goldstein slipped from a right to the jaw in the opening of the fifth and in the resulting fall to the mat, sprained his ankle. He was unable to answer the call for the sixth round.[7]

On March 29, 1927, he knocked out Billy Petrolle at the Pioneer Sporting Club in New York in the first of six rounds. Petrolle went down after a right to the chin 45 seconds into the first round, after a count of two in a prior knockdown. It was an impressive victory, and the fastest knockout of Goldstein's career.[2][8]

On May 13, 1927 Goldstein won an important six round points decision at the large venue of New York's Madison Square Garden against the former July 1925 NYSAC World Lightweight Champion Jimmy Goodrich. It was a close bout and fought hard, but Goldstein's ability to elude Goodrich gave him the narrow lead in the bout.[9]

Knockout loss to Sid Terris, May 1927[edit]

Sid Terris

The Sid Terris fight was a much-hyped battle between the two rival Jewish New Yorkers on June 15, 1927 at New York's Polo Grounds. Terris and Goldstein had known each other for many years and had attended high school together.[2] Each fighter had his legion of supporters, and their eagerly anticipated face-off produced a stirring 1-round fight before 40,000 enthusiastic fans.[1] Goldstein seized the advantage when he floored Terris for a count of nine with a right to the jaw, around 1:25 into the first round, and confidently seemed on his way to an easy victory. Terris, however, upon arising timed Goldstein's charge and caught him coming in with a powerful blow, knocking Goldstein out. Terris suffered from the same suceptability to knockouts as Goldstein, and was himself KOed by Irish great Jimmy McLarnin who possessed extraordinary speed and punching power.[2] The blow Terris dealt that felled Goldstein was a solid right to the jaw that may have been a slight bit high, 1:47 into the first round, not long after Terris had been down for his count of nine.[10]

Coming back from his loss to Terris, after a three-month lay-off on December 19, 1927 he knocked out Ray Mitchell in the third round of six at the St. Nicholas Arena in New York. Mitchell had been down for a count of nine in the second round. Fighting at 139, Goldstein was nearing welterweight range of 140, technically fighting as a superlightweight.[11] After the Ray Mitchell bout, Goldstein fought most of his bouts as a welterweight, and fought quality opponents but few serious contenders until his match with McLarnin.

Knockout loss to Jimmy McLarnin, December 1929[edit]

Goldstein lost to Jimmy McLarnin in a second-round knockout at New York's Madison Square Garden before 19,000 fans on December 13, 1929. Goldstein was first down for a count of nine from a left to the head in the first round, and for a count of nine by another right in the opening of the second that knocked him into the ropes. He arose but was knocked to the mat for the final count shortly after. McLarnin was easily one of the most gifted boxers of the era, and possessed a strong punch, and lightning speed. Delaware's Morning News described McLarnin as "one of the greatest of modern day punchers."[12] Both boxers were fighting in the welterweight range, very close to 144 pounds.

Goldstein was in serious trouble in the first round, and had trouble rising from the count of nine. He may have lost the fight to a knockout if not for the bell ending the round.[13] Both boxers were fighting in the welterweight range at 144 pounds, and the bout was considered by several sources as an informal elimination bout for two world welterweight championship contenders, though it was not described as a world championship.

On September 10, 1930, he scored a third-round technical knockout against Jack Zivic at the Henderson Bowl in Brooklyn, New York, fighting well into the welterweight range at 145 pounds.[2] In the second round, Ruby unleashed a number of blows to Zivic's jaw. Weakenend in the second, with a few seconds before the bell in the third, Goldstein leveled a striking attack that put Zivic on the mat for the full count.[14] Ruby had gone eight months without a bout since his loss to McLarnin.

Fighting again as a welterweight, on April 29, 1932, he was knocked out by Dick Sisk in a second-round TKO at Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. Goldstein was down three times for counts of nine, before a fourth knockdown prompted the referee to end the bout as a technical knockout.[2] Ruby had gone six months without a bout since his loss to Joe Macedon, who knocked him out in the seventh round in Newark, New Jersey. He would win more bouts and score some impressive knockouts in his final five years and eleven bouts, but never aspire to welterweight contention status. His last bout was against Al Grosso on August 13, 1937. which he won by a third-round TKO.

Career as referee[edit]

After having completed his service in the army in the 1940s where he began refereeing fights, Goldstein established himself as a trusted and experienced ring official, and refereed in many high-profile bouts. He served as a referee for 21 years, and was the "third man in the ring" for 39 world title fights.

Refereeing the Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Joey Maxim Light Heavyweight Championship[edit]

He refereed the Sugar Ray Robinson-Joey Maxim light heavyweight title fight on June 25, 1952. The bout was held outdoors at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Robinson, the reigning middleweight king, was seeking to wrest Maxim's light heavyweight crown. Temperature at ringside measured a blistering 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), and it was even hotter in the ring under the lights.[2]

A preview of the fight's ending occurred when Goldstein collapsed from the heat after the 10th round, and could not finish refereeing the remainder of the match. Another referee, Ray Miller, was rushed into service so that the fight could be concluded. In the 13th round, Robinson began wavering, and staggered around the ring on unsteady, wobbly legs. Overcome by the heat, he could not answer the bell for the 14th round, resulting in a 14th round TKO for Maxim. Robinson, who was ahead in the scoring, was thus deprived of an opportunity to win a world title in a third division. When asked if Maxim got lucky when Robinson collapsed from the heat, his colorful manager, Jack "Doc" Kearns, replied: "It was just as hot for Maxim in there as it was for Robinson." Robinson commented: "I lasted longer than Goldstein, and nobody was hitting him."

Refereeing the first Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson World Heavyweight Championship[edit]

Goldstein also refereed the first Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johansson world heavyweight championship fight in Yankee Stadium on June 26, 1959. In the third round Johansson floored Patterson, who arose but appeared out on his feet. Goldstein was criticized for not immediately stopping the match and allowing Johansson to knock Patterson down six more times before ultimately awarding the bout to Johansson.[2]

Refereeing the "Kid Paret" vs. Emile Griffith World Welterweight Championship[edit]

The biggest controversy involving Goldstein as a referee occurred in on March 24, 1962 when he refereed the Benny "Kid" Paret-Emile Griffith world welterweight championship fight, which was televised live by American Broadcasting Company in Madison Square Garden. Paret was hung-up against the ropes in the 12th round when Griffith delivered a barrage of unanswered punches to the head of the seemingly helpless Paret as Goldstein looked on. When Goldstein finally intervened, Paret slumped to the canvas, unconscious. He died 10 days later from the injuries he suffered in that bout. Goldstein refereed only one more fight, two years later. Before the fatal bout, Goldstein had been regarded by many as the finest referee in boxing. His son Herb pointed out that he had often been criticized for stopping other fights too early.

In 1959, Funk & Wagnalls published his memoirs, titled Third Man In The Ring, as told to sports writer Frank Graham.

Personal life and death[edit]

The years between 1937 and 1942 were particularly difficult for Ruby, having lost most of his savings in the stock market crash. He worked for a time managing a friend's billiard parlor and continued to work as a boxing trainer when he could.[1][15]

Goldstein enlisted in the army in 1942, rising to the rank of sergeant, and working as a physical trainer and boxing coach at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. After obtaining a license, he began refereeing, and toured with Joe Louis as a referee, refereeing Louis's match with Jersey Joe Walcott in 1947. After the war, making little at first as a referee, he worked as a public relations manager for Schenley Distillers.[1]

In 1959, Funk & Wagnalls published his memoirs, titled Third Man In The Ring, as told to sports writer Frank Graham.

Goldstein moved to Miami Beach in his retirement in 1977.[16] Goldstein was remarried to second wife. Beatrice. He had been previously married to the former Mae Owen, with whom he had a son, Herbert.[3] Having been treated at Mt. Sinai Hospital, he died of throat cancer in his home in Miami Beach on April 23, 1984. His second wife and son survived him.[1][3] Services for Goldstein were held in New York, and he was buried in New Montefiore Cemetery in Pinelawn, New York, on Long Island.[17]

Halls of Fame[edit]

Goldstein was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994, as well as the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Goldstein, who was Jewish, was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g The Jewish Boxer's Hall of Fame, Blady, Ken, (1988) Shapolsky Publishers, Inc., New York, NY, pgs. 158-163
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ruby Goldstein". BoxRec. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Rogers, Thomas (1984-04-24). "Ruby Goldstein, Ex-Fighter and Controversial Referee". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  4. ^ "Goldstein Stops Tony Vacarelli in Sixth Round", The Scranton Republican, Scranton, Pennsylvania, pg. 20, 18 May 1926
  5. ^ "Benny's Successor Found in Gotham", Lansing State Journal, Lansing, Michigan, pg. pg. 30, 26 May 1926
  6. ^ Final blow from Hudkins was a right to the jaw, Kilgallen, James L., "Nebraska Wildcat Hangs Knockout", The Lincoln Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, pg. 8, 26 June 1926
  7. ^ "Billy Alger Kayoes Ruby Goldstein in San Francisco Ring", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 11, 25 September 1926
  8. ^ "Quick Knockout", The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, pg. 15, 30 March 1927
  9. ^ "Sid Terris and Goldstein Win", The Warren Tribune, Warren, Pennsylvania, pg. 6, 14 May 1927
  10. ^ Currie, George, "Nebraska Wildcat Should Have Worn Gloves", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, pg. 26, 16 June 1927
  11. ^ "Ruby Goldstein Knocks Ray Mitchell Out", The Oregon Statesman, Salem, Oregon, pg. 4, 20 December 1927
  12. ^ "McLarnin Crushes Ruby Goldstein", The Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware, pg. 10, 14 December 1929
  13. ^ Goldstein may have been close to knockout in first round in "McLarnin Wins New Fame By Knocking Out Ruby Goldstein", Lansing State Journal, Lansing, Michigan, pg. 18, 14 December 1929
  14. ^ "Goldstein Stops Zivic in Third", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, pg. 29, 11 September 1930
  15. ^ "Ruby Goldstein, Ring Referee Who Quit", Courier Post, Camden, New Jersey, p. 15, 25 April 1984.
  16. ^ "Digest", Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, p. 75, 25 April 1984
  17. ^ "Ruby Goldstein, 76, Ring Referee Who Quit", The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 10-D, p. 40, 25 April 1984.
  18. ^ "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Retrieved January 20, 2011.

External links[edit]