Philadelphia Legend “Bad” Bennie Briscoe Fought His Last Round!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 31, 2010)
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You couldn’t talk about Philadelphia boxing without mentioning “Bad” Bennie Briscoe. What he accomplished in 96 fights cannot be told on paper. He challenged for 3 world title fights coming up short against 2 South American legends in WBA/WBC champion Carlos Monzon of Argentina and WBC champion Rodrigo Valdez of Colombia. The latter was the only one in 96 fights to stop Briscoe in a rematch for the vacant title in 1974.

Bennie Briscoe, one of the best never to win a world title (when world titles meant something) and the man who presided over the last Golden Age of Boxing in Philadelphia (the 1970s) passed away Tuesday at5:52pm EST. He had been in Temple University hospital for about a week before being moved to hospice. His wife Karen, who I have been in contact with over the last 2 weeks, called me at about 6:20pm EST to give me the news,” said J Russell Peltz. Peltz promoted Briscoe for more than half of his 20 year career from approximately 1968 thru 1980. As noted on the site www.peltzboxing.com Briscoe was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in October of this year. His manager for the greater part of his career was Arnold Weiss.

John DiSanto started the “Briscoe Awards” over 3 years ago awarding “Bennies”, look-a-like bronze statues of Briscoe. He awarded the first honorary one to Briscoe in 2007. On his website www.phillyboxinghistory.com you will see many of Briscoe’s pictures and the following:

Since Bennie Briscoe was the inspiration for this award, it was only fitting that the very first casting of the “Briscoe” be for the man himself. Briscoe fought professionally for 20 years, from 1962-1982, logging an overall record of 66-24-5-1nc, with 53 Kos. During his career, Briscoe won the welterweight and middleweight PA state titles and the NABF middleweight crown. He also fought for the world middleweight championship three times. He headlined boxing shows all over the world and was one of Philadelphia’s biggest-ever box office attractions. He fought numerous ring standouts and competed in many, many memorable fights. He was always a fighter for the boxing fan as well as the ultimate example of a Philly fighter. His workmanlike style was relentless and exciting. Philly fans loved what Briscoe did in the ring even more than his opponents hated it. Briscoe was elected to the PA Boxing Hall of Fame I 2007. Bennie received his Briscoe award in a private ceremony I 2008.

One claim to fame was boxing to a draw in Argentina with the then champion of Argentina Monzon in 1967. Monzon would win the world title in 1970 and finally give Briscoe his rematch in 1972 in his sixth defense over 15 rounds. Why then? Briscoe lost to Luis Vinales and it was discovered he had hepatitis. Just 6 months later in a rematch he stopped Vinales. Then 1 month later to the day he fought Monzon.

The list goes on and on to who Briscoe beat the likes of future WBA light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, WBA/WBC middleweight champion Vito Antufermo who won the title the following year, and future WBA light heavyweight champion Vicente Rondon.

Fought some of Philly’s best in stopping Georgie Benton, split with “Kitten” Hayward, stopped and drew with Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, split with Percy Manning, defeated Charley Scott, drew and lost to 2-division champion Emile Griffith, lost to “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, undisputed middleweight champion and lost a pair to welterweight champion Luis Rodriguez.

In all Briscoe was 66-24-5 with 1 no contest, stopping 53 of his opponents. Many of his opponents didn’t fight again for 6 months after the sledge hammer jab out of the mould of “Sonny” Liston that came up from the “floor”. The body shots “sometimes” went south of the border but one way or another it won him many a fight.

“His (Briscoe) ring accomplishments speak for themselves. I was a fan well before he turned professional (USA Boxing judge), because he had a lot of great fights in the amateurs and was already a star. I can’t recall him ever being in a bad fight and a lot of them not only lived up to expectations but went beyond,” said Jeff Jowett.

“Even the quick knockouts were so spectacular the fans didn’t feel cheated and he certainly had Monzon on the hook. I wouldn’t overlook that after his professional career he lead a quiet life, continued to work at his job and bought his mother a home. He didn’t self destruct like so many who seem unable to adjust no longer being stars,” added Jowett. While being a Ring correspondent and writing for Boxing Digest for years Jowett continues to serve as a judge for USA Boxing and the collegiant boxing program.

After being an AAU welterweight champion, with a 70-3 amateur record, Briscoe, turned professional in September of 1962 and retired in December of 1982. He was a 20 year veteran which is very rare in boxing today. He won his first 15 fights, 10 by knockout before losing to Manning in 1965 only to stop him in 1969. He scored 11 straight wins before losing to Vinales. It started with a reversal loss into a knockout over Joe Shaw.

Briscoe was 53-9-2 with 1 nc in Philly rings. He fought in such out of the country places as Puerto Rico, Argentina, France, New Caledonia, Monaco, Italy, Belgium and Canada. Rounds he boxed were 660 with a winning knockout percentage of 74%. Ring Magazine named him to the list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. At his induction into the PA HOF in 2007, his promoter J Russell Peltz said “Bennie would have beaten Bernard Hopkins”. There wasn’t a whisper of decent. That put a smile on Briscoe’s face!

Briscoe always wore a Star of David on his boxing trunks. Boxing magazines and news reports in the early 1970s, said he was practicing a practicing Jew. However, in interviews with the media, Briscoe state that, while he found the Star of David a powerful symbol, he was a Baptist. I can see it now, “Baptist” Bennie Briscoe! It’s just not the same. Briscoe was often called Mr. Blue Collar for his down to earth personality and toughness. No fan ever walked away from a Briscoe fight and felt cheated.



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