By Ken Hissner
On Tuesday April 26, 2016 longtime local boxing man Steve Traitz, Jr passed away after a long illness at the age of 79. Many people came into the BVD church in Trooper, PA to pay final respects to the man they loved and depended on. The attendees ranged from members of the Local 30 Roofers Union and friends from the boxing world which included Anthony Boyle, Chuck Diesel, Joe Hand Sr. and Jr.
The boxing end of Traitz story started in a barn on their property on Park Avenue in Trooper as the elder Traitz started training son’s Stevie III and Joey. He himself was a one-time professional boxer before becoming Business Manager of Local 30 Roofers.
Eventually Traitz would form the Montgomery County Boys Club with many winning PA state titles and a National Champion in “Big” Joe Thomas who will be inducted into the PA HOF May 15th. Traitz and his son Stevie have already been inducted. Thomas was one of the few non-roofers who fought for the club.
One time state boxing champion and a member of the MCBC Buddy Osborn, who now runs the Rock Ministry Gym in the Kensington section of Philadelphia which includes church services gave the Eulogy. Traitz himself grew up in Kensington, a section known as one of the toughest parts of the city.
In the eulogy, Osborn mentioned how Traitz would leave his house with money in his pockets for his team of roofers and come home empty-handed to his wife Barbara. She had a kitchen in the gym and was everybody’s “mom!” They also had living quarters for out-of-town boxers to sleep over.
It was a dedicated group of boxers who mainly came to the gym after working on the roofs. It was also one of the cleanest gyms this writer remembers anywhere. Traitz brought in and worked with professional boxers such as heavyweight champion’s Pinkon Thomas and Trevor Berbick and contender Roy Williams to work with Joe Thomas. “Bad” Bennie Briscoe a legend in Philadelphia boxing would spar with the Traitz boys. Boxers like IBF super welterweight champion Buster Drayton and Willie Torres were other professionals including world light heavyweight champion Matthew Saad Muhammad who Traitz trained for several fights. Traitz would come to his aid when he became homeless.
This writer once remembered when Pinklon Thomas was about to leave the gym in the winter time without a hat and Traitz taking his cap off and put it on the head of Thomas. That was the kind of person Traitz was.
Several of the MCBC team members turned professional including Thomas, both Traitz sons, Willie Harris and Louie Rivera were also PA state amateur champions. Those who didn’t turn professional were Mark Goodwin and Richie Mendel. Both were at the funeral. Mendel now a surgeon in North Carolina had led a procedure for Traitz to have heart surgery. Current trainer Wade Hinnant and Jessie Goodman were some of the roofers who turned professional. Traitz was known to have the former boxers given jobs as roofers including former light heavyweight champion Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman.
Traitz was laid out at the St. Patrick’s Cemetery in East Norriton off 202. He will be missed not only by many friends but two surviving sons and three daughters Barbara, Donna and Tina.