Adam Shatz

When Jewish Boxers KO’d American Nazism

The Scholar: Adam Shatz

The Project: When Jewish Boxers KO’d American Nazism

The Essential Question: “I decided to pursue a topic in this area, because my great-grandfather, John Schlotzberg was a prizefighter in Trenton, NJ in the early 20th century. My paper analyzes the success of Jewish-Americans within the sport of boxing during the early 20th century. It explores first and second-generation American Jews, and I was able to look into the specific qualities of the sport that popularized it amongst adolescent Jews. Ultimately, this basis of research serves to contextualize my final area of research surrounding a specific Jewish prizefighter named Nat Arno, who in Newark, NJ, established a coalition of Jewish boxers who physically combatted American Nazism.

Surprising Discovery: “I was surprised to find that one-third of all professional fighters during this time were of Jewish descent. I didn’t realize how popular the sport was among the Jewish community.

Biggest Challenge: “Finding reliable sources for such a niche topic. There were several novels written on my topic with non-fiction components to it. Navigating those areas was certainly challenging, and developing a fully truthful account without taking any fictional components to any pieces of work [I included].”

Tip for Future Scholars: “Make sure you are pursuing a topic you are passionate about, because it’s really difficult to conduct research and motivate in areas where you are not passionate. Finding a topic like I did that you are really passionate about, for whatever reason, and getting behind that, because then it becomes less of a class and more of a very rewarding project that you get to do independently.”

During your research, was there a boxer you learned about that you developed a newfound respect for, or someone you look up to from this? “I think the big one would be Nat Arno, who is I think of any boxer researched the most and discussed the most in my paper. He was a prize fighter from NJ, he didn’t have a very successful professional career so he shifted the focus of his career toward combating something greater than himself. That was really important.”