Cletus Seldin, The Hebrew Hammer

By Norman Marcus on December 12, 2017
Cletus Seldin, The Hebrew Hammer
In his last fight, on November 11, Seldin took on Roberto Ortiz of Terreon, Mexico. (Getty)

The first thing you notice is his old-school, cross-armed defense, similar to Marciano. The Rock was bigger and heavier but Cletus reminds me of the Rock…

News Flash!—Bill O’Reilly, late of Fox News, is no longer the only famous character coming out of a small town on Long Island. That title is quickly becoming the property of a promising local welterweight, from the nearby town of Shirley. If you happened to miss his HBO debut a couple of weeks ago, on the undercard of the Daniel Jacobs/Luis Arias middleweight main event, you missed a lot. Here’s what happened…

A blast from the past!—The first thing you notice about Cletus Seldin is his old-school, cross-armed defense, similar to Marciano. The Rock was bigger and heavier but Cletus reminds me of the Rock. They both crouch down low and get in close, to work the body and head. He even looks and sounds a bit like Marciano. Sticking the left arm across his middle with his elbow out, helps Cletus counter any superior boxing skills of his opponent. Seldin is a puncher not a boxer. He came to the sport late and is already thirty-one years old. The Hammer is in a hurry. The clock is ticking. He is ranked 17th by the WBC. Seldin has to beat better and tougher opponents if he wants to become a contender in the welterweight division. He is thick from bodybuilding but definitely not muscle-bound. He once bench pressed 470 pounds. Amazing for a fighter who is only 5’7’’ in height. Early on, he was advised by his trainer, Pete Brodsky, to use this old style defense and his powerful right hand to end his bouts early.

On the night of November 11, 2017, Cletus Seldin (20-0, 16 KOs) faced off against veteran Roberto Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KOs). Ortiz’s only loss came against Lucas Matthysse of Argentina. Ortiz was no sacrificial lamb, brought in to help pad The Hammer’s record. So who was this Cletus Seldin appearing suddenly on HBO? Sounds like the name of an accountant or dentist. Why am I talking about this preliminary fighter instead of the main event?

The Hammer is an amazing character. He is funny, entertaining, a crowd favorite, and he has a right hand that can end a bout at any moment. He reminds me of Max Baer, the 1930s heavyweight champion with his clownish sense of humor and powerful looping right. Seldin also throws a pretty good left hook, as did Baer. “I’m a white Jewish kid from Long Island,” says Cletus, who sports a jacket with the words, “Remember the Masada” on the back. Boxing legend Barney Ross had a similar jacket, with the words, “The Pride of the Ghetto” on it. He was a triple division champion in the 1930s, holding the lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight titles. All three of these Jewish boxers sported a Star of David on their trunks. Seldin definitely seems to be a throwback to the last century, the American Century, before political correctness tied us all up in a clinch. He is just a tough kid from the old neighborhood.

The Hammer is named after Clete Boyer, the famed third baseman with the 1950s/1960s New York Yankees. Boyer was a good friend of Seldin’s grandparents. His father Harry led a motorcycle club called “The Dragons” in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York in the 1950s.

In his last fight, on November 11, 2017, at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, Cletus Seldin of Long Island took on Roberto Ortiz of Terreon, Mexico, in a 10-round preliminary light welterweight bout.

The fight started out at a fast pace. Seldin knocked Ortiz down 15 seconds into round 1, with a right hand to the temple. Cletus floored him a second time before the round was over. The Hammer continued his bloody attack in round 2. He kept throwing the overhand right as if it were a jab, over and over again. Left hooks and uppercuts pounded the head and body of the Mexican. Ortiz was game but unable to evade the right hand. The Hammer opened a bad cut over Ortiz’s left eye. The cut was deep and blood flowed freely. Round 3 found Ortiz struggling to see. He finally walked into Seldin’s left elbow. The fight doctor looked at the eye in horror and told referee Shada Murdaugh it should be called. The ref waved it off. It was a TKO at 2:83 of round 3 for the Hebrew Hammer.

In the post-fight interview with Max Kellerman Cletus said, “I give myself an A. I could have taken him out a bit earlier, but I showed my determination, I kept coming, trying to land the big shot. I could do it with either hand. I was really trying to set him up. You could see how rough and tough and old-school style I fight. You gotta be in great shape to take me down.” He shouted to the crowd, “I’m a wrecking machine from Long Island… All you Hammerheads out there give me a hammer!” The fans cheered and screamed his name. Seldin couldn’t keep a straight face. He broke into a big smile and began to laugh. After all, he was on Long Island that night, after a big win and he felt at home.

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  1. Kid Blast 08:56am, 12/15/2017

    He is a counterpunch ko victim waiting to happen.

  2. Jackson Reyes 12:12pm, 12/13/2017

    Guy is a menace for sure/ heavy hands with a determination to hurt the other guy… hammer I think I love you. Stay off the sauce, “can’t touch this”- Hammer

  3. Gogea Mitu 12:35pm, 12/12/2017

    The cross arm defense brings to mind Archie Moore and even Ken Norton…Rocky not so much. It’s worked for a Light Heavy like Archie with big arms and for Norton with his Joshua sized arms as well. Seldin is a throw back for sure…. like he stepped out of a time machine from the Twenties and Thirties….if he had a full head of hair parted in the middle and all slicked back with Dapper Dan he would be perfect!

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