Category Archives: Ken Hissner Articles

In the 70’s When Philly Middleweights Were at Their Best!  

By Ken Hissner

Philly is known for their gym wars in the 60‘s and 70’s in both the   amateur and professional ranks. The 23rd PAL in 1969 had some of the   best amateurs turning professional like Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, 38-  7-1 (6), Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, 30-9-1 (28). Willie “The Worm” Monroe, 39-10-1 (26), was out of “Smokin” Joe Frazier’s Gym.

These three Philly boxers would join the likes of “Bad” Bennie Briscoe,   66-24-5 (53) and Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 32-12-4 (18) who were already professionals.

Gypsy Joe HarrisIn 1968 “Gypsy Joe” Harris, 24-1 (9), was forced  into retirement when it was discovered he was blind in one eye.

Harris had a win over Hayward and won a non-title fight over Curtis Cokes but was never able to get a title fight finalized. Both Briscoe   and Harris were out of the 23rd PAL.  Philly’s Percy Manning, 17-7-1 (11) lost by knockout to Briscoe in their third meeting in May of 1969 and passed away in October at the age of 37. Briscoe had stopped him in 8 and Manning won the re-match by  decision.

Former top middleweight contender George Benton was  defeating Juarez de Lima in 1969 but in 1970 after another pair of wins ended his career losing to de Lima in a re-match. Benton had lost   to Briscoe in 1966 and would start training Briscoe after retiring in   1970.

Continue reading In the 70’s When Philly Middleweights Were at Their Best!  

Frank Santos De Alba Defeats Jesus Lule at 2300 Arena

Article by Ken Hissner
Photography by Ray Bailey / 

On November 20, 2015,  Marshall Kauffman’s King Promotions put on a dynamite show at the 2300 Arena for the locals with about 30 union members mostly at ringside. 

In the main event, Super featherweight southpaw Frank Santos DeAlba, 17-1-2 (6), of Allentown, PA, won a 6 round decision over game Jesus Lule, 7-15-1 (1) of Ft. Myers, FL. He hasn’t lost since his debut loss.

Each round was like the one before it with Lule chasing and DeAlba countering with many hard punches to body and head. Lule kept coming with the heart of a lion. On occasion he got in a good punch but couldn’t overcome the odds of the favorite.

Continue reading Frank Santos De Alba Defeats Jesus Lule at 2300 Arena

Six Philly & Area Super Feather & Lightweights to Keep an Eye On

By Ken Hissner

They come from Camden, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and Reading, PA, and all six can fight. They have a combined record of 79-7-8, with 32 knockouts.

Jason Sosa 2015JASON SOSA, 18-1-3 (14) of Camden, NJ, has a Dec. 19 date with Nicholas Walters, 26-0 (21), of Montego Bay, Jamaica, the former WBA Featherweight Champion.  They collide over 10 rounds—or less—at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY.   Heavyweights Bryant “By By” Jennings, of Philadelphia, and Luis Ortiz, of Havana, Cuba, meet in the main event.

Ranked No. 8 by the IBF and No. 13 in the WBO, Sosa faces his biggest test against Walters, who lost his title in June when he failed to make the 126-pound featherweight limit.  Walters has fought over the featherweight limit in 10 of his 26 fights.

Continue reading Six Philly & Area Super Feather & Lightweights to Keep an Eye On

“Double SS” Steve Smoger Interview – From Judge to Boxing Referee!

“Double SS” Steve Smoger Interview – From Judge to Boxing Referee! by Ken Hissner

“Double SS” Steve Smoger has Seven C’s for a professional boxing referee that are conditioning, communication, composure, confidence, consistency, concentration and courage. You don’t have to have seen him more than once in the ring to see that he doesn’t just preach but lives by them!

Continue reading “Double SS” Steve Smoger Interview – From Judge to Boxing Referee!

Philly’s David “American Dream” Reid – From Olympic Gold to WBA Crown

Philly’s David “American Dream” Reid – From Olympic Gold to WBA Crown

Few boxers in the history of boxing have risen to win the world championship as fast as David “American Dream” Reid did in his twelfth fight!   His winning Gold Medals at the 1995 Pan Am Games and 1996 Olympics got him a multimillion dollar contract as he put Denver based America Presents on the map in the boxing world.

Reid had a good training base coming out of the 26th and Masters ABC Recreation Center in Philadelphia.  In 1993 before he left the city for Northern Michigan University he would win the PA Golden Gloves State championship advancing to the nationals where he became the National Golden Gloves 147 pound champion.  He also won the Olympic Festival championship that year.   “Reid was the real deal.  He took good advice while here.  It was important to keep your fighter safe,” said Fred Jenkins.

Jenkins took in Al Mitchell who would eventually moved to Marquette, Michigan, and set the ground work for numerous boxers to use as a platform for the Nationals, Olympics and professionals.   “Dave Reid and I are former sparring partners.  He was an awesome amateur and professional boxing champion.  Also, Dave is a longtime friend of mine and a wonderful person”, said Rodney Moore. (Rockin’ Rodney was Mr. Blue Horizon out of the same Philly gym as Reid)

Mitchell arrived in 1989 as the Junior Olympic coach and took over at NMU in 1992.  Six world champions and one gold medalist were produced.  One of those world champions and the only gold medalist was Reid.

Click here to read the article in its entirety

Northern Michigan University Has Produced Many Champions

“Northern Michigan University Has Produced Many Champions!”

by Ken Hissner

Since 1988 Northern Michigan University has developed some of the top boxers in the country not only in the amateur ranks but later among the professionals. There have been six world champions and one Olympic Gold medalist that have come out of the prestigious university. They include four former world champions in Vernon Forrest, David Reid (also Gold medalist), Jermain Taylor and Byron Mitchell along with two current in Brian Viloria and Tim Bradley. There have been Olympic team members such as Augusta’s Forrest (1992), Philadelphia’s Reid, Gold medalist (1996) and Philadelphia’s Zahir Raheem (1996) Little Rock’s Taylor (2000), Seattle’s David Jackson (2000), Hawaii’s Viloria (2000), DC’s Clarence Vinson (2000) and Brooklyn’s Roberto Benitez (2004).

In the 90’s the funding came from the athletes actually filling out financial aide packages and grants through financial aide. The Education Center also got support from the United States Olympic Committee (USOEC). In 1998 Congressman Bart Stupak went to Congress and got a scholarship for the training center and now the scholarship is called the Stupak Scholarship named after his son who died tragically while still in high school in May 2000. There was a time 24 slots were open for boxers and now it’s been reduced to only 8. When the funding was in question last year Forrest offered to help out until his untimely death this year. Forrest won the World Championships in 1991. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Forrest got food poisoning the day before his first bout. He was a favorite to meet the Cuban Hector Vinent, but lost Peter Richardson (GB). In 2009 the funding stopped. World champion Vernon Forrest, who had attended NMU, informed me he would supply the funding before his untimely death. The semester cost is now $2500.00 and still a good deal.

Philadelphia’s Al Mitchell arrived in Marquette as the head coach of the Junior Olympics and the regional coach in 1989. He was the LBC coach from 1989-91 for the Junior National Championships there. In 1992 he would become the head coach at Northern Michigan University. One of his nationally ranked boxers in 1991, Larry Nicholson, would later become an assistant of his. Reid is at NMU with him now along with his assistant coach Luis Gomez. I talked with Mitchell in August as he and 1976 Olympian Charles Mooney were helping instruct the Chinese silver medalist from the 2008 Olympics Zhang Zhilei at Fernwood Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. One of Mitchell’s former boxers, Nate James, was serving as a sparring partner.

Go to for the latest on the Philly Boxing scene
Email for any questions, comments or suggestions

“The Return of Bert Cooper” by Ken Hissner!

Back in 1984 there was a kid out of Sharon Hill PA being hailed as the “next Joe Frazier”. Though Bert Cooper was really only a cruiser weight at the time, with only a 9-1 amateur record “Smokin’ Bert” went on to accomplish many great things in his career which include but is not limited to being the first man to knock Evander Holyfield down in a fight.

Philly fight game connoisseur Ken Hissner recently talked to the former world title challenger about his career and more. Smokin’ Bert says he still wants to get in there and mix it up as a pro! Read the article in its entirety here

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at

Go to for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene

Philly Trainers Speak Out! by Ken Hissner

Philly fight game old timer Ken Hissner checks in once again with a piece titled “Philly Trainers Speak Out”. In this article, Hissner talks to 13 well known trainers from out area. The theme is simple, according to this report, many are in agreement that the fighters today aren’t as hungry as they were back in the 80’s & 90’s. Hissner also give some background info on these men who don’t get the glory but are always work hard behind the scenes to prepare their boxers for an upcoming fight. Read the article in its entirety and see if you agree with what the writer has to say. All opinions on the story can be sent to the author Ken Hissner at

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at

Go to for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene

Tyrell Biggs story

Cus D’Amato once told me “if I had to take an athlete from another sport and teach him how to box it would be a basketball player.” So when Tyrell Biggs played for West Philly H.S. “Speedboys” who were the city basketball champs it was an easy transition when at 18 he walked into Joe Frazier’s gym in 1978. At 6:05 he certainly had the right height and slender build as Mr. Hayes started him and was eventually turned over to famed trainer George Benton. Click here to read Ken Hissner’s story of West Philly Olympian and former Heavyweight title contender Tyrell Biggs

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at

Go to for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene

5 Philly careers shortened by tragedy by Ken Hissner

There have been many careers shortened for various reasons and Philly fighters are no exceptions. There were 3 due to eye injuries and 2 do to death of which one was a killing! Their combined records were 112-8-2. Of the 3 with injuries, 2 went on to become well respected trainers. They have all been inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. Ken Hissner takes an in depth look at the shortened careers of Gypsy Joe Harris, Wesley Mouzon, Dick Turner, James Shuler & Tyrone Everett , all great fighters from back in the day.