There were plenty of congratulatory handshakes, fond memories and sincere compliments delivered to and about J Russell Peltz Friday night at the 2300 Arena as the Philadelphia boxing icon celebrated his 50th anniversary as a promoter.
“Peltz is a Pennsylvania legend,” said Frank Pintabone, a longtime friend of the 72-year-old Peltz. “I’ve known of him for 25 years. … Many people don’t last as long as he did in this business.”
The actual anniversary of Peltz’s first boxing card was Monday, and he was honored on Thursday with a resolution from the Philadelphia City Council for his contributions to the city.
But Friday’s event brought Peltz back into a boxing venue, where he made his name and memories for countless boxers and fans.
“When you think of Pennsylvania boxing, you think of Russell Peltz,” Pintabone said. “He has put together great fights for a long time.”
Friday’s celebration, which featured Peltz being honored by the crowd and many special guests, included a video tribute of his greatest fights, and an eight-bout card that was headlined by Victor Padilla and Romain Tomas.
“I enjoyed it," Peltz said at the end of the event. "It was worth the stress to get to the end of the night, and all the fights were good. Not one fighter tonight embarrassed me or himself.”
Of the video tribute, he said, “That was very nice. Every time I see some of that stuff, I start to cry.”
Even before the first bell — the event was titled “Blood, Sweat and 50 Years” — those who attended his first fight card — Bennie Briscoe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts and Eugene Clark fought in 1969 at the Blue Horizon — gathered and recalled Briscoe’s stellar career.
Seated ringside by Peltz throughout the night was Ray Didinger, a former sportswriter and current TV and radio personality. Didinger is a former classmate of Peltz and was at that first card.
Boxing announcer Teddy Atlas was also in attendance.
“Boxing is more than a sport to him, it’s his life,” said Arthur Pellulo, of Banner Promotions.
Pellulo has been a promoter for 32 years and has known Peltz for 30.
“He’s absolutely a matchmaker,” Pellulo said. “He’ll get his own fighters beat because he thinks it’s the best fight.”
Peltz, a Temple graduate, was named matchmaker of the year by Boxing Illustrated Magazine in 1982 and 1994. He was U.S. Boxing Association promoter of the year in 1982, 1996 and 1997 and inducted into the Pennsylvania State Boxing Hall of Fame in 1978.