Brownsville; It’s in the Water

By Ted Sares on July 27, 2012
Brownsville; It’s in the Water
“Bummy” attacked the robbers, knocked one of them down, and was shot three times.

“Home to Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles and ‘Pittsburgh Phil’ Strauss, two of the Jewish mob’s most feared henchmen, Brownsville was where lighthearted kvetching and the shouts of pushcart vendors faded into the muffled screams of the mafia hit. In the hands of Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter and ‘Big Al’ Anastasia, Murder Inc. turned the business of crime into a vast, well-oiled enterprise.”—From “Bummy Davis vs. Murder Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Mafia and an Ill-Fated Prizefighter”

“We both went to P.S. 396…He’s a couple years older than me, so I wasn’t a friend of his or anything. He was a loner. Actually, all I remember about him is that he was big for his age and that he always had a bag of cookies with him.”—Riddick Bowe speaking of Mike Tyson

”[Brownsville] never promised you anything. It was up to you to find your niche and make a life for yourself, to find your thing and grab it with both hands.”—Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

“Though he was born and raised in Brownsville, Jacobs doesn’t have the same flash and swagger of other boxers who came from that neighborhood.”—Tim Smith

Brownsville is a dreary residential neighborhood located in Brooklyn, New York. At one time, Brownsville was one of city’s most infamous slums, and it still remains essentially ignored by gentrification and marked with intense violence. Some call it “the hood that New York left behind.” Nevertheless, a lot of “famous” people came from there: the composer Aaron Copland, Rev. Al Sharpton, Willie Randolph, Lloyd World B. Free, Larry King, Nelson George, John Gotti, The Three Stooges (Moe, Larry and Curly, and later Shemp Howard), and others too numerous to name. But when it comes to boxers, there must be something in the water that produce the greats who drank it, including Benny “Schoolboy” Friedkin,  Al “Bummy” Davis, explosive Mike Tyson, troubled Riddick Bowe, introspective Floyd Patterson, and savvy Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. Also calling Brownsville home are combustible (but now less so) Zab Judah, his brother Daniel Judah, Shannon Briggs, Junior Jones, Mark Breland, and more recently Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (21-3) and recovering Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs (22-1). Yuri Foreman, who once won the WBA super welterweight title, reportedly has been seen drinking the same Brooklyn water.

As an amateur, Danny Jacobs won his fourth New York Daily News Golden Gloves Championship (one short of Breland’s record). Danny has not fought since March 2011, when he knocked out Robert Kliewer in one round. These days, he’s waging another battle; he’s fighting for more than a belt. In May, Danny was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive life threatening cancer that manifested itself in a quarter-sized tumor, wrapped around his spine, which damaged his nerves and caused partial paralysis in his legs. He is now on a long and difficult road back. However, given his background, where he is from, and the water he was drinking, Danny’s odds are pretty good. 

Al “Bummy “Davis, who grew up when Brownsville was predominantly Jewish, developed into a tough, street-smart young man, and became well known in a neighborhood that was famed as the home of Murder Inc. He was a slugger with a lethal left hook and an old school record of 65-10-4 with 47 KOs. Named to The Ring magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Punchers of All Time, he was murdered in 1945 when he was drinking with his friends in Dudy’s Bar in Brownsville and four armed robbers walked in. “Bummy” attacked the robbers, knocked one of them down, was shot three times, but still managed to chase the other three. During the pursuit, he was shot a fatal fourth time. Bummy upheld the Brownsville reputation to the very end.

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Al "Bummy" Davis

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  1. Ted 06:41pm, 01/10/2016

    Nice and informative post Dino T.

    Thank you

  2. Dino T. 06:24pm, 01/10/2016

    Al “Bummy” Davis had one of the most devastating left hooks in the boxing game.  My uncle fought him twice in 1943 in Philadelphia and both bouts went the distance.  I recall my uncle telling me that no one hit harder than Bummy and he had fought the likes of Armstrong, Jenkins, and Satterfield (as an amateur) in his four year pro career prior to military service.

  3. Tex Hassler 07:48am, 07/31/2012

    You have to give Al “Bummy” Davis an A+ for courage but maybe he would still be with us if he had used a little common sense. Al was a real fighter in every sense of the word. Brownsville has produced some great fighters.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 09:33am, 07/30/2012

    This story is short and sweet like an Egg Cream!

  5. FrankinDallas 01:28pm, 07/28/2012

    Wow..didn’t know about Jacobs. Hope he gets healthy again.

  6. Bob 11:54am, 07/28/2012

    One more thing:  Laverne Roach, Georgie Small, Bummy Davis. Even the fighters from Brooklyn had great names.

  7. Bob 11:52am, 07/28/2012

    Ted Sares is a master at gleaning these little nuggets of boxing lore. Thanks for bringing Brownsville back to life for scores of readers who don’t recognize its contribution to society in general and, in this case, boxing in particular. Every time I drive through such neighborhoods, which is often, I look at the old buildings and wish the walls could talk. Brooklyn is such a source of fascination to me. Although I’ve been all over the country, and in many parts of the world, I have not been to a place with more of its own identity than Brooklyn. You can smell and feel the history on every block.

  8. the thresher 11:47am, 07/28/2012


    Thanks for the props.

  9. jofre 07:23am, 07/28/2012

    The fighters that came out of Brownsville are a who’s who of some of the toughest boxers to ever grace the square circle. Bummy Davis was one of them. Georgie Small was another tough one whose career went downhill after the Laverne Roach tragedy. Terrific article.

  10. Don from Prov 07:19am, 07/28/2012

    Al “Bummy” Davis, my favorite “not great’ fighter—

    And Brownsville is like its own history book.  Amazing.

    Thanks for this one.

  11. The Thresher 06:16am, 07/28/2012

    Thank you Mike. Much appreciated.

  12. mikecasey 01:03am, 07/28/2012

    A rare little gem of an article!

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