The Legacy of Dana Rosenblatt
26.07.06 - By Ted Sares:
He wasn't the greatest prospect but he sure as heck wasn't on the lower tier either. He started garnering more serious attention after his leg twitching first round KO of "The Irish Express," Sean Fitzgerald, 29-2-2, for the New England Middleweight Title on December 16, 1993. The fight was at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT. He would attempt to punctuate this win when he met Chad Parker in 1995 at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas for the WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Title. In between, he beat guys like Sean Fitzgerald, 29-2-2, Ron Amundsen, 22-13-1, rugged Brett Lally, 32-12, Tyrone Moore, 32-19-3 and Frank Savannah, 15-1-1, (whom he defeated by TKO for the WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Title). Both Rosenblatt and Parker were undefeated, but one seemed to be the real deal, the other, well let's break it down.
Chad Parker was a relative unknown who won his first 15 all by stoppage, but his first 19 opponents had losing records. Included among them were Jake Torrance, 22-79-2, and Anthony Travis, 5-50. He drew with Tim Rabon, 14-12-2, then fought Keheven Johnson, 24-70-5, Anthony Ivory, 33-77-5, and David McCluskey, 20-72-6. A year before the Las Vegas fight, he fought Tim Dendy, 17-44-2, and won by DQ in 9 which indicated that Parker might be more hype than fight. All told, his opponents had an eye-popping combined won-lost record of 252-753!
One of his opponent prior to May 1995 was one Kirino Garcia, currently 38-27-3, whom he beat by points in Biloxi. Garcia was on a streak of his own......18 straight "defeats" right out of the professional gate (but 12 were on points and most were fought outside of Mexico suggesting the specter of bad decisions). The fight with Parker would be the last of the 18. Amazingly, Kirino would then go on to beat such name fighters as Meldrick Taylor, Jorge Vaca, Terrence Ali, Eric Holland, Simon Brown, Buck Smith, Frankie Randall, and Derrick Whitley. Just last year he lost to to Danny Green in Australia. Garcia is now considered one tough hombre and the question was did Parker catch the old Garcia or did he beat the new one? An analysis of their respective records clearly points to the former. But so much for the undefeated fighter from the South.
A break down of "Dangerous" Dana Rosenblatt's record up to this fight reveals equally interesting data. Rosenblatt once held a black belt in Karate, a brown belt in Judo and was a former U.S. Amateur Kickboxing champion. His boxing opponents' combined won-lost record going into the Parker bout was 208-163 reflecting far superior competition. Moreover, while many of Parker's fights were in small venues, Dana performed regularly at Foxwoods often filling it with a faithful following from the Boston area including a large number of Jewish fans from both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Just prior to the Parker fight, he beat Randy Williams, 24-8, by TKO in 4 at Bally's in Atlantic City. Though Caesars Palace undoubtedly loomed large for both fighters, "Dangerous" Dana was clearly more accustomed to the pressure of fighting in large venues.
Unless you had broken it down analytically (like bettors do), the fight in Vegas did not live up to its billing. As he did with Sean Fitzgerald in 1993, Rosenblatt knocked out the mismatched Parker in spectacular fashion in the first round. While the exposed Chad would never fight nor be heard from again, Dana would go on to fight such notables as comebacking Olympian Howard Davis, Jr. 36-6-1, (whom he ko' d in two and put an end to the comeback), former 5-time champ Vinny Pazienza (splitting two exciting bouts), rugged Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown, 48-12, tough Arthur Allen, 26-8, future Hall of Famer Terry Norris, 47-9, ( Rosenblatt dominated the early rounds and then, exposing a pattern tracking to the Allen fight, seemed to run out of gas but his early lead held up for a UD), James Crawford, 40-12-2, (the first of two frustrating technical draw caused by butts and resultant cuts), and Will "Kid Fire" McIntyre, 36-4-1. But after his boring win against McIntyre in October 2000 and just when his star was positioned to rise to the next level, his career moved in the opposite direction. A series of shoulders injuries, a hand fracture (suffered in the Brown fight) and several scheduling problems kept him inactive and caused him to drop out of the world rankings. He would not fight again until June 28, 2002.
Finally, after many months of rehabilitation and frustration, Dana stepped into the ring against Juan Carlos Viloria for the first time in almost 20 months. In what would turn out to be his last fight, he was again accidently head-butted in the third causing a deep cut and rendering him a bloody and ghastly mess. The fight was ruled a technical draw. Dana was handily winning at the time and looked extremely sharp, but this final gut wrenching frustration convinced him it was time to consider walking away which he did in August 2003. He retired with a fine record of 37-1-1.
Unfortunately, Dana Rosenblatt's legacy likely will be defined by his two memorable fights with the fiery warrior from Rhode Island, Vinny Pazienza, 50-10. I'll skip most of the Pazienza part, for that has been treated by any number of writers and it would be virtually impossible to give it a unique slant unless, perhaps, I approached it by comparing it to the old ethnic rivalries of the past. Suffice to say Dana avenged the only defeat of his career (a 4th round KO loss to Pazienza in 1996 at Bally's in NJ) when he defeated Vinny in a 12-round hotly disputed split decision on November 5, 1999 at Foxwoods. If one wanted to label his legacy with one word, "redemption" might fit nicely......but it should be more than that and that's what this piece is about.
More to the point, Bob Trieger, his former publicist was quoted as saying,“His body began to break down on him little by little. All the wear and tear over the years, it finally caught up with him, and probably kept him from achieving everything he really wanted to in boxing. It kept him from earning the real big paydays.” He added, " He stood for something that’s very atypical when the discussion of professional boxing comes up.........you always hear about........all the bad guys that hurt the reputation of boxing. But you never hear about guys like Dana, a guy who represents what most boxers are about. Most of them are good, caring people.”
Ironically, Dana's exemplary life style, (he was articulate, gentlemanly, affable and a college student to boot), made him somewhat of an oddity in boxing and may have fueled some dislike for him to wit: "My hatred for him is true," said the theatrical and likable Pazienza [who during one-on-one interviews can be sensitive and extremely candid] ....I could break every bone in his body and feel no remorse. He's a condescending, little punk with that community college degree and I hate every ounce of him. I hate him for all the s--- he said about me back when I was supporting him. He hasn't earned the right to talk like that. He ain't been there, done that." And on another occasion,"I hate him,'' said Cranston's five-time world champion. "I absolutely hate him. And that's no bull. I'd rather die than lose to this guy.'' And that was mild, but maybe Dana was keeping in mind Author Eric Hoffer's quote: "You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."
He also had been criticized for not making tougher fights and some of the criticism was justified. Fights with Sven Ottke, Omar Sheika, Eric Lucas and Scott Pemberton, for example, would have been a real test, but this remains speculation. What is not speculation is that Dana was among that group of humble boxers who gave their opponents their due, did not badmouth them, and did not act like they were "victims of bad breaks" after a fight.......boxers like Curry, Ward, Barrera, Mosley, Gatti and Hatton.
Dana, now a Bunker Hill Community College honors graduate, is a decent and caring person who walks the walk. He wears nice suits and speaks in measured and articulate tones. He has been a frequent inspirational speaker at universities, kids' camps and religious events visiting temples all over the Boston area and beyond and talking to the kids on the importance of having been a Jewish fighter. Indeed, he is proud to be Jewish and proud to have been been a boxing role model for his religion. When he fought, he always wore a Magen David (Jewish Star)on his trunks. He says ".....that fighters have their identity on their trunks. People like to see the symbol. I get letters from Jews all around the world. The star makes us all proud and elicits a sense of pride." He now represents Countrywide Home Loans in the Boston area and works with realtors, builders, real estate investors and home buyers. As with his boxing career, his hard work and dedication has moved him into the top rankings of loan officers.
Unlike too many other boxing stories, this is one that ends on a positive note. The story here is one in which the retired fighter looks content, fit and ready, feels fantastic and works at a new and rewarding career to which he seamlessly and successfully transitioned; it is one in which there are no "what could have been's" nagging at his conscience; it is one about an ex-boxer who delivers motivational speeches on how to achieve goals despite facing steep obstacles. The story here is that Dana Rosenblatt left the sport he toiled at with a proud record of 37-1-1 and winnings that were wisely invested. While never a great fighter, he was a pretty darn competitive. More importantly, he left boxing on his own terms and with few regrets......and that should be his real legacy.............
"He that can't endure the bad, will not live to see the good." Jewish Proverb
Ted Sares is a syndicated writer who can be reached at [email protected]