At Philly’s VBA Ring One, the oldest
in the country, who shows up but former WBA light heavyweight
champion Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman. Looking about 10
years younger than his 54 with a dark Atlantic City tan he sat down
with this writer and corrected his age.
“I was born in 1956 but had to say
1955 back then in order to turn professional. I had my last amateur
fight in Asbury Park. I thought if I’m getting robbed I might as
well get paid. I was only 17 and you had to be 18 to fight
professionally in Jersey,” said Rossman.
As we went through all his fights he
was telling ahead of time who, where, when and the result. Talk
about the mind still being sharp. “I had 4 trainers in my career
starting with Carmen Graziano. I had Willie O’Neill, “Slim”
Jim Robinson and Jimmy Arthur,” said Rossman. He was from
Turnersville, NJ, with a Jewish mother and an Italian father (Jimmy
DePiano served as his manager). He changed his name from DePiano to
Rossman when he turned pro.
Rossman won his first 7 fights by
knockout turning pro in August of 1973 at Atlantic City’s
Convention Hall knocking out Stanley Dawson in the second round
weighing 151. He would find a second home in
Scranton, PA, CYC Youth Center where he went 7-0. In June of 1974 he
would fight in Madison Square Garden defeating Ray Hernandez,
14-12-1, over 6 rounds up to 160.
Rossman won his first 13 fights and in
a return match with Nate Dixon would be held to a draw over 8 rounds
at Philly’s Spectrum. In his next match he returned to the Garden
and defeated Mike Baker, 16-3-1, over 8 rounds for his fifteenth
fight in 11 months. He scored a knockout n his third fight with Dixon
at the Garden. Over a 5 fight period 4 of them were at the Garden.
He beat Mike Morgan, 14-2-2 and stopped John Pinney, 24-0-2 from June
through November in 1974.
Rossman won back-to-back fights over
the Trinidad champion Matt Donovan and would suffer his first setback
in May of 1975 losing a split decision to Mike Nixon, 21-5, in
Binghamton, NY, where Nixon was born though then living in CA, for
his only appearance in Binghampton. “I rocked his world,” said
Rossman. Knowing he wouldn’t get a fair shake there he would have
a rematch in his next fight with Nixon in Las Vegas, scoring a
seventh round knockout.
The following month Rossman was at the
Nassau Coliseum, in Uniondale, NY, in the semi-windup to Roberto
“Hands of Stone” Duran’s lightweight defense against Edwin
Viruet. He would lose to Mike Quarry, 51-7-3, in the first of 3
fights to Quarry. When asked later who was his toughest opponent he
said it was Quarry due to his toughness though not a puncher. “What
a pair of balls,” said Rossman.
Rossman would finish out 1975 in his
last appearance in Scranton defeating Philly’s Al Styles, Jr.,
8-1-2, over 10 rounds. Starting off 1976 Rossman fought a draw with
Casey Gacic, 8-2-1, in Ownings Mill, MD, over 10 rounds in the
semi-windup to Matthew Saad Muhammad. “Matt and I had many a war
in the Juniper Gym, in Philly. I always wondered what kind of a gate
we would draw if we ever fought but never did,” said Rossman. They
joked about it at the dinner just who got over on who sparring.
In June he would travel to New Orleans
and lose a majority decision to Tony Licata, 51-3-3. Licata was
48-0-3 when he lost to Argentina Ramon Mendez in Italy but defeated
him in the rematch in New Orleans earning him a title fight with
Steve Smith aka Flasher Ishibashi was
next. Smith was from Philly and in the service in Japan and re-won
their middleweight title in 1974 before coming back to the states.
Rossman stopped him in 6 rounds in Atlantic City.
Rossman would be in back-to-back fights
with Jersey’s Christy Elliott, 22-1-1, at Yankee Stadium on the
undercard of Ali and Norton. Elliott had also drawn with Gacic.
Rossman stopped Elliott in 3 rounds. For some reason 2 months later
they are in a rematch in West Orange, NJ, where Ireland born Elliott
lived in the area where his manager Lou Duva promoted. With Paul
Venti as the referee, Rossman knew it would take another knockout to
win. “I got robbed by all and ended up with a draw,” said
The second Rossman-Quarry fight took
place in Las Vegas a month later ending the year 1976 with a bang.
Rossman took a majority decision over 10 rounds. The rubber match
took place in May of 1977 at the Garden and for some strange reason
was scheduled for 11 rounds. It was the semi-windup to
Norton-Bobick. Quarry retired in his corner after the sixth due to a
In March of 1978 Rossman took on tough
Yaqui Lopez, 41-6, at the Felt Forum. Lopez had scored 3 straight
knockouts since losing a 15 round decision to champion Victor
Galindez. The winner was in line to meet Galindez in 60 days. “It
was a time when I was reading my clippings from the paper and
believing how good I was,” said Rossman. “I had him cut and beat
for 2 rounds and was wondering why the referee (Petey Della) didn’t
stop it,” said Rossman. In the sixth round Lopez put up an offense
of his own. “The same referee waved the fight off that let it go
in the second round,” said Rossman.
Rossman bounced back 2 months later
stopping Lonnie Bennett, 29-5 and Matt Ross, 13-1, both in 2 rounds.
Bennett had lost to WBC champ John Conteh on a cut. Then he won the
NABF title. These wins earned Rossman his shot at the WBA champion
Galindez, 53-6-4, at the Superdome, New Orleans, LA.
“It set an indoor record for
attendance for that fight,” said Rossman. There were 4 title
fights including the Ali-Spinks rematch. Galindez had defeated Lopez
in May and this bout took place in September. Philly historian John
DiSanto www.phillyboxinghistory.com who was sitting in with us asked Rossman what was going through his
mind when he got the title shot? “This is it. One shot,” said
Rossman. He mentioned he had the best cut-man in the business with
him in Eddie “The Clot” Aliano, of Philly who traveled the world
working corners. DiSanto, a big Rossman fan, said “you fought the
perfect fight.” That he did in stopping Galindez in the thirteenth
round to win the WBA light heavyweight title.
“That was in September. The
following month Lopez was fighting Saad Muhammad in Philly. I went
into the dressing room of Lopez before the fight and told him you’re
next! As it turned out Saad stopped him in the eleventh round,”
said Rossman. It would be 6 months later Saad Muhammad would stop
Marvin Johnson for his WBC title.
Rossman’s first defense would be in
Philly’s Spectrum 3 months later, the end of 1978 when he stopped
the European champion Aldo Traversaro, 44-2-6, of Italy, on cuts in
six rounds. In February just 5 months after defeating Galindez the
rematch was set for Las Vegas. This would be one of the most
unbelievable events and black eyes against boxing what happened that
Rossman entered the ring first though
the challenger is supposed to do that. Since Galindez hadn’t come
out, Rossman did. It didn’t help speed Galindez’s entrance
because he refused to come out. Rumors were he wanted to put on “New
Skin” to help protect from cutting and was weak from making the
Either way Rossman claims he did not
receive “a dime” and Galindez was not suspended or else he would
not have been allowed to return 2 months later though in a different
state of, LA, where their first fight took place. “I was told by
my dad not to try to get any money from the promoter Bob Arum of Top
Rank. I got a call from Philly lawyer Mark Stewart to try to get
paid but nothing ever came of it. I went from loving boxing to
hating boxing,” said Rossman.
This writer received some inside
information that the management of Rossman got paid and even tried
not paying the trainer “Slim” Jim Robinson. They were told to
pay up or else and did. Rossman claims to know nothing about this.
Top Rank did not reply to this.
It wasn’t the same Galindez or
Rossman in April of 1979. Friend of the family and Reading, PA
promoter (lived in Leesport, PA) Lou Lucchesse told this writer he
advised Rossman not to give Galindez a rematch. Galindez would take
the title back at the end of the ninth round when Rossman couldn’t
come out due to a hand injury. Like Rossman said “he was never the
same when the Galindez bout was cancelled in February.
This writer looked up Rossman and went
to his Turnersville, NJ, home advising him not to get rid of trainer
“Slim” Jim Robinson as rumored. Rossman had a cast on his hand
at the time. Rumors were he hurt it before the fight and was pushed
It would be 5 months later when Rossman
returned to the ring against Mexican Ramon Ranquello, 13-6-2,
fighting out of Union City, NJ. The fight was held in Giants Stadium
with Rocky Lockridge and Gerald Hayes state title bout as co-feature.
“I dropped him a couple of times but the referee (Paul Venti)
didn’t stop it. In the seventh round when he hurt me the referee
waved it off,” said Rossman. He seeked a rematch but couldn’t
get it. Ranquello took a small fight and then Michael Spinks
It would be 10 months before Rossman
returned to the ring winning a pair of fights before meeting Luke
Capuano, 19-2, in Chicago. “It was a packed house,” said
Rossman. He would win by split decision in November of 1980 and
again in the rematch with Capuano in his next fight over National
In May of 1981 Rossman took on future
WBC Light heavyweight and WBA Cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad
Qawi, 13-1-1, in Atlantic City. “The Camden Buzzsaw” had won 12
in a row including reversing his only loss to Johnny Davis. The
future Hall of Famer was at the top of his game winning in 7 rounds.
It would be almost 2 years before
Rossman came back in April of 1983 winning 4 bouts in a row all in
Atlantic City thru November of 1983. “I got cut under the chin in
training and the doctor said he couldn’t let me fight. I told him
I can beat him anyway,” said Rossman. It would mark the last of
Mike “the Jewish Bomber” Rossman’s career!
Rossman ended up 44-7-3 with 27
knockouts. He is in both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Hall of
Fame’s. Between Philly (7-0-1), Scranton (7-0), MSG 9-0 and
Atlantic City (10-1) he was 33-1-1.
“I owe a lot to Steve Traitz, Sr. I
love the guy. He saw me and hired me on the spot for Local #30
roofers out of Atlantic City. Without him I wouldn’t have a
pension,” said Rossman. Traitz has helped many people and many
boxers having run the Montgomery County Boys Club, in Eagleville,
outside of Philadelphia.
“I took my son to the gym and he did
quite well one day with a professional. As I was taking him back to
his mother’s he was staring at me in the rear mirror. I asked him
what was the matter and he went on to tell me how he could kick my
butt. I told him the next time when I pick you up we’ll spar. I
gave him a whipping. After I dropped him off at his mother’s
place. No sooner I got in the door of my place the phone was
ringing. His mother was asking me what I did to her son,” said
Rossman. I call that tough love.
Rossman joined us the following day at
the PA HOF dinner. He stayed with former Philly boxer Billy Abel,
Jr. the night before so he could make it on time! Rossman was a
smash hit. He got announced by MC Nino Del Buono and the people
would not leave him alone for autographs. Everyone wanted to talk to
Rossman got a group picture with 2 of
the inductees, Jerry “The Bull” Martin, Richie Kates, and and
former champion Matthew Saad Muhammad who was already an inductee
along with Rossman. You would never know they battled each other in
the gym or the ring! Vic deWysocki who filmed the event said “the
man looks like a movie star!”
“I wanted to fight Jose Canseco in
Atlantic City in July of 2008. I told the promoter Damion Feldman I
could sell the ball park out. I would walk across the bridge from my
house, knock him out and walk back home without breaking a sweat,”
said Rossman. It seems Feldman took an “easier fight” against
former Philadelphia Eagle and sportscaster Vai Sickahema who stopped
Canseco in the first round. This writer was there. Speaking of
Feldman, his father, Marty, was introduced as the first “Jewish
Bomber” at the dinner and Rossman as the second. I can’t imagine
what Feldman and Rossman would be worth if they fought on the same
card today! Feldman and Rossman sounds like a pair of Jewish
Rossman attended the unveiling of the
Joey Giardello statue in South Philadelphia the following week-end on
May 21st. The fans still never forgot Giardello who
fought them all. He became middleweight champion beating Dick Tiger.
He had fought a draw with Gene Fullmer and was robbed of the title
Both Rossman and Matthew Saad Muhammad
became champions and had many a sparring sessions at the Juniper Gym.
Rossman and Muhammad would have packed them in wherever they fought.
Both were given jobs with Local #30 by Traitz when they retired from
boxing. Rossman learned his trade in the gyms of Philadelphia like so
many champions (30) from Philly did. Rossman may have been called
“The Jewish Bomber” but the Italian came out of him in the ring!