J RUSSELL PELTZ
J Russell Peltz saw his first live fight at the age of 13 and he was “hooked for life.” A former copy editor on the Evening Bulletin sports desk in Philadelphia, Peltz promoted his first boxing card on Sept. 30, 1969--at the age of 22--and he sold out the 1,300-seat Blue Horizon on North Broad Street with a main event of middleweights Bennie Briscoe and Tito Marshall.
As evidence of what he has accomplished in his career, Peltz was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 13, 2004, in Canastota, NY.
Peltz received the James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1999 for “long and meritorious service”; Career Achievement from the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association in 2000; induction into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 2000.
In an Aug. 9, 2002 story in Boxing News, the highly respected weekly British publication, Peltz was labeled “arguably the greatest of his era” and a man with “few rivals as the finest matchmaker on the planet.”
Peltz promoted at the Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia and at the 7,000-seat Arena in West Philadelphia from 1969 to 1972. In 1973, he was named Boxing Director of the Spectrum in South Philadelphia. He soon turned the 18,000-seat building into the boxing capital of the East Coast. Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles were the top centers for boxing in the United States during Peltz’ seven years (1973-1980) at the Spectrum.
Peltz played a major role in landing the Nov. 30, 1976 World Boxing Council (WBC) junior lightweight title fight at the Spectrum. The 15-round contest matched WBC champion Alfredo Escalera, of Puerto Rico, against unbeaten challenger Tyrone Everett, of South Philadelphia. It was Philadelphia’s first world championship fight of the 1970s. The crowd of 16,019 is the largest ever for an indoor fight in Pennsylvania.
Other world title fights during Peltz’ tenure at the Spectrum: Roberto Duran vs. Edwin Viruet for the World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight title in 1977 and Mike Rossman vs. Aldo Traversaro for the WBA light-heavyweight crown in 1978. Peltz also helped develop Briscoe, legendary middleweight contender; Matthew Saad Muhammad, WBC light-heavyweight champ; Marvin Johnson, WBC and WBA light-heavyweight champ; Jeff Chandler, WBA bantamweight champ; hard-hitting middleweights Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Willie “The Worm” Monroe and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler suffered two early career defeats when he lost decisions to Watts and Monroe on Peltz-promoted cards at the Spectrum. The 14,930 crowd which saw Hagler outpoint Briscoe in 1978 there is the largest for an indoor non-title fight in Pennsylvania history.
Peltz left the Spectrum in 1980 to promote independently in the Philadelphia and Atlantic City area. His boxing cards have been televised on cable systems such as ESPN, USA, PRISM and SportsChannel as well as HBO and Showtime and the major networks--ABC, CBS, NBC.
Going back out on his own, Peltz developed Dwight Muhammad Qawi, WBA light-heavyweight and cruiserweight champion; Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, IBF lightweight champ; Gary Hinton, IBF junior welterweight champ; Robert Hines, IBF junior middleweight champ; Prince Charles Williams, IBF light-heavyweight champ; Arturo Gatti, IBF junior lightweight champ; Charles Brewer, IBF super middleweight champ; Kassim Ouma, IBF junior middleweight champ.
Most recently, Peltz’ junior lightweight fighter Jason Sosa, of Camden, NJ, won the WBA world junior lightweight title in 2016 in Beijing, China, then defended it successfully in Monte Carlo before losing it in 2017.
Peltz has promoted or co-promoted more than 40 world championship contests, including 10 defenses by Chandler as WBA bantamweight king from 1980 through 1984. Peltz also co-promoted with Main Events an all-star card which saw Meldrick Taylor defend his WBA welterweight crown by defeating Glenwood Brown on Jan. 18, 1992 in Pennsylvania Hall at the Civic Center. A standing-room-only crowd of 3,500 also saw multi-champion Pernell Whitaker against Harold Brazier. It was televised by HBO.
Peltz brought the first-ever world championship fight to the legendary Blue Horizon on Dec. 2, 1997 when Brewer outpointed Joey DeGrandis over 12 rounds. Though 30 world champions have boxed there at some point in their careers, the Brewer-DeGrandis fight was the Blue Horizon’s first world title match.
In 1982, three of Peltz’ NBC-televised fights were named Fight of the Month by The Ring magazine: They featured Philadelphia middleweight Frank “The Animal” Fletcher defending his United States Boxing Association (USBA) middleweight title against Tony Braxton, Clint Jackson and James “Hard Rock” Green.
In 1983, Peltz took monthly honors with Fletcher vs. Wilford Scypion and Chandler vs. Oscar Muniz II for the WBA bantamweight title.
In 1984, Chandler’s WBA title loss to Richard Sandoval was chosen Fight of the Month, an ABC telecast.
Boxing Illustrated magazine named Peltz Matchmaker of the Year in Atlantic City in 1982 and, 12 years later in 1994, Boxing Illustrated voted Peltz second to Don King as Promoter of the Year nationwide. He also was honored as Promoter of the Year by the USBA in 1982, 1986 and 1987.
The North American Boxing Federation (NABF) voted Peltz their Promoter of the Year for 1990-91.
From 1984 to 2001, Peltz went back where he began--at the now legendary Blue Horizon--where his “take-no-prisoners” style of competitive matchmaking earned him Matchmaker of the Year for 1994 by the weekly Boxing Update publication. His nationally televised Blue Horizon cards sold out on a consistent basis from 1993 to 2001.
Boxing Illustrated magazine chose the Blue Horizon, under Peltz’ direction, second to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the Best Boxing Site in 1994.
In August, 1998, Peltz was hired as boxing consultant and matchmaker for the weekly Friday Night Fights series on ESPN 2. He held that post for six years until he left in 2004.
Peltz took his own shows on the road in 2002, promoting at the newly renamed Arts Palace (Gershman YMHA) in center city, Dover Downs Slots in Dover, DE, the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, the Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, MS, and the Ritacco Center in Toms River, NJ.
In May, 2004, Peltz, along with Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., of Feasterville, PA, opened the 1,200-seat New Alhambra Sports & Entertainment Center in South Philadelphia. The cards were televised by CN8, ESPN 2 and Telefutura/Univision. Now known as the 2300 Arena, Peltz re-opened it to pro boxing in May, 2014.
Peltz also became advisor/matchmaker for Main Events, of Totowa, NJ, in 2007 and his matches helped generate solid ratings for the popular Fight Night Series, which ran from 2012 thru 2014 on the NBC Sports Network.
Peltz teamed up again with Joe Hand Promotions in 2018 to bring boxing to the new Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA.
In 1978, Peltz was inducted into the Pennsylvania State Boxing Hall of Fame. He also has been inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (2002), the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame (2008), the Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame (2015) and the inaugural class of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (2017).
Peltz received the B.S. in Journalism from Temple University in 1968 and he won the Sigma Delta Chi award as the Outstanding Male Graduate in Journalism. In 2010, Peltz received the Lew Klein award when he was inducted into the Temple University School of Communications & Theatre Hall of Fame.
At the Temple News, then published four times a week, Peltz served as assistant sports editor as a freshman, sports editor as a sophomore and makeup editor and city editor as a junior. As a senior, Peltz secured a full-time job on the sports desk of the Evening Bulletin, working from midnight to 8am, then attending Temple from 9am to 1pm. After graduating from Temple in June, 1968, Peltz stayed at the Evening Bulletin until he promoted his first fight Sept. 30, 1969.
Peltz and his wife, Linda, also a Temple graduate, reside in Boca Raton, FL. They have one son, Daniel. Another son, Matthew, passed away in 2017. They have six grandchildren.
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