Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin—Moving Forward

By Marc Livitz on November 14, 2018
Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin—Moving Forward
Seldin returns to action Friday night when he faces Nelson Lara. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

“He’s never faced anyone who hits like me and I don’t think he can handle my right hand. When I hit, I leave indentations…”

There are several disciplines of professional sports in which victory or defeat rests almost squarely on the shoulders of an individual athlete at the time of performance. Boxing is surely no exception to this rule. Unlike a complete team, the fighter takes the field while the rest of the squad stands on the sidelines. Whenever a professional pugilist is handed his or her initial defeat, it’s usually a very rough spoonful of concrete to take. Such feelings are undoubtedly heightened whenever coupled with an injury, as was the case last December for super lightweight contender Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin.

The Long Island, New York native entered the ring last December in Laval, Quebec, Canada to battle a local talent in Yves Ulysse, Jr. with an undefeated record to his credit. At the time, Seldin had finished seventeen of his twenty-one professional fights inside the distance. By the time the full, ten-round contest had reached its ending, he found himself on the losing side of a unanimous decision. Additionally, he’d soon find out that he’d suffered a serious injury to his left elbow and that he’d likely need surgery to correct the issue. This led to a procedure which is much more common among baseball players, particularly pitchers and is known as “Tommy John” surgery.

After nearly a year away, Seldin (21-1, 17 KO’s) will take his first steps back towards the pursuit of a world title this Friday night in Oklahoma City when he takes on Nelson Lara (17-10, 9 KO’s) of Nicaragua. The bout can be seen live in the United States on the ESPN+ platform (6:30PM ET) as part of the undercard of the WBO world super lightweight championship clash between Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KO’s) and local talent Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo (28-0, 18 KO’s) at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Upon his departure from Canada last winter, Cletus was eager to get back into the ring as early as the following February. “After my last fight, I was on the plane back to New York and I was talking with my promoter, Joe DeGuardia,” the amiable fighter said during an interview earlier this week. “We were negotiating a return fight for February, but my elbow was experiencing a lot of pain, so I went to have an M.R.I. done.”

The first physician he visited suggested that the seven-year professional instead seek a new career as a trainer once the surgery was complete. “It’s the worst surgery in all of sports and it usually takes anywhere from twelve to eighteen months to fully recover,” he commented. In most instances, a suitable piece of tendon is taken from the arm or leg in order to replace the dysfunctional ulnar collateral ligament, then essentially held in place by screws. Luckily for “The Hebrew Hammer,” a second opinion led to a less invasive date with the scalpel.

“The first doctor told me to quit fighting and become a trainer, but I’m a fighter,” he said. “The next one told me that he could insert a device into my arm that would cut the recovery time in half, although I was to be the first person to ever have that done. That was a little but hard, but I’m past it now. There were lots of intense physical therapy sessions and hopefully, I’ve left a blueprint for other fighters to use if they are hurt in the same way.”

Although the super lightweight division isn’t as glamorous as the poundage classification seven pounds to the north, Cletus sees himself as far more than just a man on a mission. “I have no idea who most of the other fighters are in the 140-pound division,” the New Yorker added. “I’m going all the way to Oklahoma City for one reason and one reason only. I plan on challenging the winner of the main event.” As one of the sport’s few athletes of the Jewish faith, “The Hebrew Hammer” has fought the majority of his contests back East, sixteen of which took place at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York.

In regards to his upcoming opponent, Seldin holds some fair praise for Nelson Lara, yet he’s ready to get back to work. “He’s a tough and durable veteran with a strong head,” he said in closing. “I got a chance to watch many of his fights. He’s never faced anyone who hits like me and I don’t think he can handle my right hand. When I hit, I leave indentations.”

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  1. Norm Marcus 05:18pm, 11/24/2018

    Yo Pete! Max Baer was known as the Livermore Larrupper, Glamor Boy, Clown Prince of the Ring etc. but never the Hebrew Hammer! He had a looping over hand right that according to Jimmy Braddock, “If he hit you right he could knock you into the 3rd row. He was a harder puncher than Louis. Louis threw more punches but Max was a man who could hurt you.”
    So take it from the Cinderella Man, He fought both Louis and Baer. If he said Max was the harder puncher I’ll have to go with Jimmy. His right was often compared to a pile driver not a hammer.
    There was only one Max Baer!

  2. Gary Hart 07:32pm, 11/16/2018

    Seldin has always been a tough guy .  To be frank he doesn’t need to copy any ones name ! He’s going to make a name for himself because he’s a champ and he always was .  I’m looking forward to a great career for “ The Hebrew Hammer” . E

  3. ceylon 07:32am, 11/16/2018

    man, yves beat the piss outta cletus.

    he can be maneuvered into a title tho. if the right person runs his career, which may not be the case since they matched him against ulysse. man yves ulysse beat the piss outta him.

    140 is FAR superior to 147. 147 has sucked for years, ever since the arrival of PBC. its a shame that a weight class stacked with american fighters has to suck for boxing. great example of boxing purgatory.

  4. Kid Blast 06:28pm, 11/15/2018

    Bobby sightings are as rare as Albino rats

  5. peter 06:11pm, 11/15/2018

    Both Halpern and Cletus stole the nickname from Max Baer!

  6. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 08:33am, 11/15/2018

    Wondered how a native New Yorker comes up with a name of Cletus. It sounds more like a name better suited for some guy down around Jawjah with a skoal ring in the back pocket of his Wrangler jeans.  Seems the “Hebrew Hammer” was named after Clete Boyer. Clete and brother Ken were two fine third basemen, not as good as Brooks or Mike Schmidt, but pretty damn good in their own right. Lots of Gold Gloves among those 4 guys. Of course Yogi & Mookie are just as bad as Skeeter or Cletus. Btw, didn’t this kid steal, Bobby Halpern’s nickname?

  7. Lucas McCain 07:20am, 11/15/2018

    Seldin had an exciting style and had some charisma, but this pushed him into a fight beyond his skill level.  This is not uncommon and fighters do come back, but at his avanced age, there was, and may still be, a rush to get him ranked and into a title fight before he is ready.  Whatever the result, one thing his story tells us is it’s often a good idea to get a second opinion from doctors!  Good luck to him.

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