With the concussion protocols that are in place
in professional and amateur sports today, it's hard to imagine that anyone would
encourage, or even allow, their child to take up the sport of boxing. However,
at the beginning of the 20th century there were no such protocols in place.
Boxing was known as the "Sweet Science" and it was very popular around the
country; Warren was no exception.
Boxing matches ("smokers") were held routinely throughout town. You could almost
always find matches at the Town Hall, the Historic Warren Armory on Jefferson
Street, and the Scenic Hall/Circle Jacques Cartier Hall ("the French Club"). The
next time you're at 2nd Story Theatre imagine the room filled with smoke, you're
at ringside, and two of your friends are set to square off in the ring.
It was in this atmosphere that a young, tough Italian-American kid from the North End named Jim Abbruzzi came of age. The Great Depression was imminent so money would become scarce, and jobs even scarcer. People needed an outlet and there was money to be made in boxing. Jim started an amateur career, where he built a name for himself as a tough Welterweight and received half of whatever money fans threw into the ring at the end of a match.
After winning numerous
amateur titles, he boxed professionally from 1930 to 1933, compiling a record of
thirteen wins (six by knockout) and eight losses.
His boxing talent brought him to such venues as Rhode Island Auditorium, the
Fall River Casino, and the Boston Arena. When Jim put away his gloves, he found
another outlet for his athletic skills by playing for the Hall of Fame Warren
Wanderers football team of the late 1930s
Pictures from Hall of Fame archives