August 18, 1996
By Robert Sadler
Background: Jewish comedian Jackie Mason once said, "JEWS DON'T FIGHT! They don't fight. They almost fight. If he'd said one more woid, I'd a killed 'em."
But Mason never met Dana Rosenblatt. Too bad. Maybe he would have changed his act if he had visited the little mill town of Malden, MA, on Boston's North Shore. That's where 24-year-old Dana Rosenblatt grew up and still lives with his parents, Steve and Harriet, owners of MET Floor Cleaning.
There are four synagogues in town and Rosenblatt knows them all. His is Temple Tifereth Israel. But he graduated from Malden Catholic. He worked in the family business, did a little kickboxing, then went on to make big bucks as a pro boxer.
On Aug. 23, the Jewish Sabbath, at the Atlantic City Convention Center the Boston Jew who has a record of 28 wins, zero losses and 21 knockouts, meets the 33-year-old Italian from Providence, RI, Vinnie "the Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza. This 168-pounder has a record of 40 wins, six losses and 27 knockouts. They'll compete for the World Boxing Union's Super Middleweight World Title. Jews against Italians, just like the old days in Philadelphia. Fight promoters Al Valenti and Frank Gelb love having the fight in Atlantic City. Where else? They're calling it "The Neighborhood War." Who says prejudice is politically incorrect?
What about the Star of David on your blue-and-white trunks?
I'm proud to be Jewish. Other fighters have their identity on their trunks. People like to see the symbol. I get letters from Jews all around the world. The star makes us all proud and elicits a sense of pride.
Are you a role model for your religion?
I visit temples all over the Boston area and talk to the kids.
What about fighting on Friday night?
My orthodox fans won't watch me. They'll turn out the lights at sundown but that's the way it is. I can't please everyone.
You've fought mostly in New England. Have you ever fought in Atlantic City before?
Yes, once. A knockout of Randy Williams last year.
Will your fans come to New Jersey to watch you?
You mean the Rosenblatt Rooters? Sure, they'll come. Plus a lot of Jewish fans from the area will come out to see a Jewish boxer. They always do.
How much will you make on this fight?
$375,000. I wanted purse parity, but it's pretty close and Pazienza is better known.
How much will Pazienza make?
How much did you make for your first fight?
$500. I was lucky. I turned pro at 20 and fought in Pikesville, MD, a large Jewish town, and I had a Jewish manager. He liked me, being Jewish and all. I fought my first four fights there.
Do you prefer fighting Jews?
No. But Jews have played a significant role in the sport. And you can say what you want about Bob Arum but he pays. When you get a contract from him, you get a check for the amount of the contract.
How much have you made from boxing?
It's hard to say exactly. I don't spend a lot of money. I don't gamble. I invest in the stock market. I have all the money I've earned, so I'd say I have $250,000.
How come you went to Malden Catholic?
You get a better education there.
Did you go to college?
Yes. Bunker Hill Community College. I was an honors graduate.
Do you have any tattoos?
No. Jews don't do tattoos. They don't believe in marking the body.
What about the Paz? Won't he mark you?
He can't hurt me.
The odds were initially 7-5 on you, now they're even. What happened? [Most recent Las Vegas odds have moved to 9-5 for Rosenblatt.]
A lot of foolish money came in on him. You know, the Italians are sympathetic for him.They may even go over toward him by fight time, butit won't do him any good.
Do you think Paz underestimates you?
No. Not anymore. His whole attitude is changing since he was at the Davis fight.
Is it true that Pazienza's trainer calls you "Rosen-booth"?
Yeah, but he doesn't know any better. He knows my name.
Is there bad blood between you and the Paz?[After the Rosenblatt/ Davis fight Pazienza said, "I just met the kid and already I don't like him."]
Are you married?
No, I'm single.
Who's your manager?
Joe Lake, the Viking. He's my trainer/ manager. He's been with me since day one, but I have a financial advisor, Leon Weinstein.
Are you in a popularity class with the other famous Boston bangers like Willie Pep, Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano?
Not yet, but I will be.