Davis, Al "Bummy"
DAVIS, AL "BUMMY"
DAVIS, AL "BUMMY" (Avraham Davidoff ; 1920–1945), U.S. welterweight boxer. Born in what was then the very Jewish Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Davis learned to fight on the neighborhood streets as a member of a teenage gang while plying his trade as a pushcart peddler. It was a neighborhood rife with members of the Jewish mafia known as "Murder, Inc.," including Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss, and Davis was the younger brother of both Willie Davidoff, a lieutenant to the famous mobster Louis "Lepke" *Buchalter, and Harry, who was also involved with the mob.
Davis was discovered by manager Johnny Attell while fighting as an amateur under the name Giovanni Pasconi. Called Vroomy, a derivative of Avraham, by his family, he was Boomy to his friends, a nickname that was finally changed to "Bummy" by Attell prior to Davis' first professional fight in May 1937. Known for his great left hook, Davis defeated his first 22 opponents, 16 by knockout including 10 in the first three rounds.
As the younger brother of two racketeers, Davis was tarred and feathered in the press as a mob-controlled lowlife, and found himself booed even by his home crowd for knocking out favorites such as Tony Canzoneri. Davis added to his legend in his most famous fight, against Fritzie Zivic on November 15, 1940. Zivic was infamous for his dirty tactics in the ring, and in the first round he repeatedly thumbed Davis in the eyes. When Zivic continued in the second round, Davis hit him below the belt at least ten times, refusing to stop. Davis was disqualified in the fight, fined $2,500, and suspended from the ring by New York State for life, but he was reinstated three years later. His final record was 66 wins (47 kos), 10 losses, and 4 draws, and he was named No. 54 on Ring magazine's list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.
Davis met a tragic end at the age of 25, when he was shot dead in Brownsville while breaking up a robbery at his former bar, called Dudy's. He is the subject of a biography, Ron Ross' somewhat fanciful Bummy Davis vs. Murder, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Mafia and an Ill-Fated Prizefighter (2003).
[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]