In a small town called Trooper, PA, Local 30 Roofer head Steve Traitz, Sr. took his son’s Steve, Jr., and Joey through the PA amateur ranks having one of the most successful teams in PA Golden Glove history called the Montgomery County Boy’s Club. It started in a barn on the Traitz property and ended up in nearby Eagleville. It included sleeping quarters, kitchen, and a gym just off the main highway less than an hour from Philadelphia.
Traitz brought in some of the top professionals to spar with his team like heavyweight champions Pinkon Thomas and Trevor Berbick, light heavyweight champion Matthew Saad Muhammad, Philly’s middleweight title challenger “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, light middleweight champion Buster Drayton, heavyweight contender Roy “Tiger” Williams, going into PA HOF this May, lightweight contenders Kenny Bogner and Jerome Artis just to name a few. Several even lived at the Traitz residence at times. He had one of the cleanest gyms you could come across. His wife Barbara did the cooking and was like a mom to all.
In 1980 the MCBC made their mark taking four PA state titles. They were Mark Goodwin at 139, Buddy Osborn at 165, Joey Traitz at 178 and Joe Thomas at heavyweight. All were roofers except Thomas who was in construction. The following year in 1981 Goodwin repeated at 139 while Willie “The Rock” Harris won at 147 along with Stevie Traitz winning at 156 and Thomas taking the state and National GG title in the heavyweight division. In 1982-83 Leroy Owens would be the last amateur to win the state titles at 147 and 156 while previous winners had joined the professional ranks.
On October 16, 1981 four of the team members turned professional. Stevie Traitz and Harris stopped their opponents in the first round. Joey Traitz stopped Billy Freeman who was a veteran of 25 fights, in the second round. Thomas won a decision. For the most part they would be on the same card until November of 1984. Louie Rivera would join them during this period of time. They mostly fought in Atlantic City casinos and drew large crowds. The elder Traitz was fair but things were done his way!
Unfortunately Joey Traitz after winning his first fight would have an accident while jacking up his van injuring his nose severely. He would try coming back in October of 1984 scoring a second round knockout but would never fight again. Several years ago he would put on an exhibition for a charity event sparring with his son. He always kept himself in good shape. During his career he was fearless and when he hurt you he knew how to finish you. He had a great career ahead of him ended.
Stevie Traitz finished with a 21-1 (19) record having won his first 16 fights. His biggest win was over Dean Ferguson, 12-0, in his tenth fight in 1982 with a fifth round knockout. His only loss was for the PA state middleweight title losing to Jimmy Sykes, 13-7-1, now a member of the PA HOF who would later defeat Briscoe. There was a big commotion at the weigh-in. “Sykes came in overweight and with a packed house we still thought it was a fight we could win. Stevie was beating him until he pulled straight back from a punch and got caught on the end of a Sykes right hand,” said Traitz Sr.
Thomas would be 18-0-1 (15) before making a comeback some years later under a Traitz assistant, Ron Poly, going 5-2 (4) ending up 23-2-1 (19) in 1995. The 6’6” Thomas was born in London, UK, in 1958 and was a gentle giant. He had an amateur win over Tyrell Biggs in 1982. Biggs would later win Olympic gold in 1984. This writer was there the night Thomas fought a draw with 7’0” southpaw Mike “The Giant” White, in July of 1983, that went down to the wire having the fans on their feet for practically the whole fight. For big heavyweights that was something to see.
Harris ended up 21-2 (17), losing two of his last three fights while no longer under the Traitz banner when he came back after a two year lay-off in 1984. His two losses were to a pair of future world champions in Michael Nunn and Charles “Hatchet” Brewer. He won the PA title in September of 1983 stopping Allentown’s Steve Michalerya, in the first round.
Owens won his first six fights under Traitz and after nearly two years out of the ring returned to boxing but in NV and unfortunately became an opponent. One of the team’s light heavyweights Richie Mendel would win two by knockout as a professional and give it up to become a surgeon. When the elder Traitz needed a heart operation he requested Mendel to perform it. Refusing due to their closeness he agreed to direct it. It was a feeling of comfort for Traitz having one of his former boxers overlooking the operation. “I knew he’d be there for me though he lived out of state. He was a good boxer but I guess a better surgeon,” said Traitz.
Traitz was known to get former boxers roofing jobs. One was former light heavyweight champion Mike “Jewish Bomber” Rossman. Another was “Smokin” Wade Hinnant who said “Mr. Traitz gave me a job after boxing. He is a great man”. Countless others have visited Traitz over the years at his same residence over the years. Since his wife Barbara’s death in 1994 his daughter Tina moved in and helps raise chickens for egg sales besides running her own business and whatever needs to be done.
In 1984 the elder Traitz was inducted into the PA HOF. Stevie Jr. was nominated in 2010 and Thomas in 2013. They surely should join the elder Traitz as inductees. Traitz was as close as sixth in voting when five boxers were inducted. The Traitz family has had their ups and downs after boxing. But have bounced back and always were there for each other. Stevie is living in Cherry Hill, NJ, while Joey lives on the same grounds where he grew up. Both have had a hand in working with their sons on an amateur level so far.
This writer visits the elder Traitz on occasions to “talk boxing”. I recently mentioned I was in the gym one winter day when heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas was leaving the gym without a hat on. The elder Traitz walked over and took off his hat and put it on the head of Thomas. Talk about a guy who would give the shirt off his back, Steve Traitz, Jr. was one of them!