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Not to be confused with Robert Pastor.

Bob Pastor (January 26, 1914 – January 26, 1996) born Robert E. Pasternak, was a prominent American boxer. He was a top-ranked Heavyweight of the 1940s who once challenged for the world title, losing to Joe Louis.

Professional boxing career

Pastor began his professional boxing career on his 21st birthday, January 26, 1935, fighting Julius Veight, a veteran who, with a record of 10 wins and 20 losses coming in, had a considerable experience advantage over the debutante boxer. The fight was held at Ridgewood Grove, Brooklyn, New York, and Pastor outscored Veight to win a six round points decision.

The fight with Veight was the beginning of an eight fight winning streak that saw Pastor score his first knockout, a fourth round stoppage of another veteran, 11-29-10 Frank LoBianco, at the Dyckman Oval, in New York City, June 12, 1935. Pastor fought at Yankee Stadium on September 24 of that year, outpointing 21-20-2 Terry Mitchell over four rounds. On November 1, in a fight of undefeated prospects, Pastor, by then 7-0 with 1 knockout win, faced Max Marek, who was 5-0, 2 knockouts coming in. This bout marked Pastor's first fight as a professional boxer at the Madison Square Garden. Pastor improved to 8-0 by outpointing Marek over 6 rounds. 28 days later, Pastor received the first blemish on his record, a six round draw (tie) against Eddie Sims, 23-15-1 coming into their bout.

The fight with Sims was followed by an encounter with ranked contender Steve Dudas, 36-7, on January 17, 1936, at the Madison Square Garden. This fight ended with Pastor being defeated for the first time as a professional fighter, Dudas taking the fight by an eight round decision. A draw against Al Delaney, 31-5-2, came after that, and then a rematch with Dudas in which Pastor avenged his earlier defeat by outpointing Dudas over 6 rounds on March 13 at the Madison Square Garden.

Pastor's next fight was highly unusual in that opponent Art Sykes, 11-12-1, suffered a nervous breakdown before their bout, returning to his hotel from the arena, and had to be persuaded to return from the hotel and fight.[1] Sykes became disinterested in fighting and leaped out of the ring in round six, quitting and officially giving Pastor his second knockout win.

A win over Terry Mitchell in a rematch came after the fight with Sykes, then wins against Frankie Sims and Ralph Barbara (the later at St. Nicholas Arena) to set up a rubber-match with Dudas, on June 19, 1936, in which Pastor won by six round decision. The third Pastor-Dudas match-up was fought at Yankee Stadium.

Pastor then took on John Andersson, 31-15-14, on July 7, 1936. This fight was significant in that it marked the first time Pastor boxed outside New York state as a professional. The bout was held at the Braddock Bowl, Jersey City, New Jersey, and Pastor came out on top with a fourth round technical knockout.

On August 1, 1936, Pastor fought in another rather unusual fight, when he met a boxer named Unknown Winston, at the Walnut Beach Stadium in Milford, Connecticut. The October, 1936 issue of Ring Magazine stated that Winston had fought Lou Poster on the day of the fight, not Bob Pastor, and that the fight had been held on August 12 instead. But the magazine later corrected that information in its next issue, clarifying that it was Pastor, not Poster, who faced Winston and that the fight had been held on August 1. In this fight, Pastor won by a ten round decision.[2]

He followed that with a win over Stanley Ketchell's brother Billy Ketchell, and three wins over mediocre opposition (whose combined records numbered 20 wins, 36 losses and 6 draws) before facing Ray Impelletiere, 10-6 but who held the USA New York State's Heavyweight title. Pastor won the regional belt when he dropped Impelletiere twice before stopping him in round seven, on December 18, 1936 at the Madison Square Garden. With that, Pastor was set to face upcoming star, Joe Louis, 29-1 at the time.

First fight with Joe Louis

Joe Louis was steadfastly becoming a force of renown in the Heavyweight division when he and Pastor faced each other January 29, 1937. He had scored 25 knockout wins in 30 fights, his lone defeat so far coming in his first fight with former world Heavyweight champion Max Schmeling. Louis was heralded as a power-punching contender.

The first encounter between Pastor and Louis was held at the Madison Square Garden with Arthur Donovan Sr. as referee. Despite taking a beating, Pastor was not floored by the young contender and he lasted the ten round distance, losing by unanimous decision.

After that fight, Pastor made his West Coast debut when, on May 28, he met undefeated Bob Nestell (12-0) at the Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, California. Nestell dropped Pastor in round one, and Pastor dropped him in rounds one and three en route to a 10 round points win for Pastor. In his next fight, Pastor lost to Nathan Mann (38-4-3) by unanimous 10 round decision at the Madison Square Garden, on November 26, 1937.

After a relatively restful 1937, Pastor had three fights in January 1938, and four fights in just under a fiscal month, beating Hans Havlicek by knockout in 8 on January 17, Buck Tracy by knockout in 2 on the 24th, Buck Everett by decision in 10 on January 31, and then ranked contender Al Ettore by 10 round decision on February 7.

Pastor then faced undefeated (16-0-3) Lou Nova April 22, at San Francisco, California, the two men holding on to a ten round draw. On May 10, back in Los Angeles, Pastor made his Olympic Auditorium debut; there, he defeated contender Lee Ramage by a ninth round knockout when Ramage's manager Pop Foster threw in the towel, signifying their surrender.

Pastor knocked out 24-6-1 Chuck Crowell in the first round and then faced Al McCoy, a hard-punching foe who had once been recognized as world Light-Heavyweight champion by the Montreal Athletic Commission. Pastor outpointed McCoy over ten rounds on June 20, 1938. Ten days later, he outpointed Freddie Fiducia, and on August 5, Pastor fought former world Light-Heavyweight champion Maxie Rosenbloom, by then about to finish his own career. Rosenbloom and Pastor fought to a ten round draw at Los Angeles' Gilmore Stadium, in Rosenbloom's second to last fight. After wins over Big Bob Brackey and Mickey Duggan, Pastor crossed blows with fellow contender Gus Dorazio, (36-4) at the Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 12, losing by a split decision. One judge scored the fight 5-4-1 in rounds for Dorazio, another scored it for Pastor by the same margin, and the third and deciding judge scored it 4-4-2, but had Dorazio ahead on points using a supplemental scoring system.

Rematch with Louis for world Heavyweight title

Pastor build a six fight winning streak after losing to Dorazio. Every victory during that streak was on points over ten rounds, including a rematch with McCoy, a fight against Maurice Strickland in which Pastor's trunks fell to the floor at least twice during round six,[3] and a rematch with Freddie Fiducia.

Louis had already established himself as a lasting world Heavyweight champion by the time he faced Pastor for the second time, having won the title from James J. Braddock and defended it against Tommy Farr (W15), Nathan Mann (KO3), Harry Thomas (KO5), Max Schmeling in their rematch (KO1), John Henry Lewis (KO1), Jack Roper (KO1) and Tony Galento (KO4).

32,199 paying ticket holders and a further 1,669 non-paying watchers got to see the fight live, at Detroit's Briggs Stadium on September 20, 1939.[4] Once again, Pastor gave Louis a hard fight, but he was dropped four times in round one and once in round 2 before succumbing to the champion by an eleventh round knockout at 38 seconds of the round.

Pastor returned to the boxing ring on December 15 of that year (1939) to face 42-5-2 Buddy Scott at Dallas, Texas, winning the fight by a ten round decision. He then took off six months, but returned on June 28, 1940 to fight Charlie Eagle (20-12-5) at the Broadway Auditorium in Buffalo, New York, outpointing him, also over ten rounds.

Match with Billy Conn

Billy Conn was the National Boxing Association and New York State Athletic Commission's world Light-Heavyweight champion and he was making an attempt at obtaining a shot at Louis for Louis' world Heavyweight title when Pastor faced him on September 6, 1940, in a highly anticipated match-up. Pastor went down at the bell ending round nine, once again in round twelve and finally, from a left hook to the body, in round thirteen when he was counted out by referee Bill Cavanaugh.[5]

A win over mediocre Mike Alfano (8-15-2), with a sixth round technical knockout followed, then a fight with Turkey Thompson (25-2) which Pastor also defeated, but on points over ten rounds. On June 16, 1941, Pastor and Buddy Scott re-matched, in front of only 2,500 paying customers, at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.. Pastor once again outpointed Scott over ten rounds, then returned to Los Angeles to fight Turkey Thompson again, prevailing on points, referee and only judge Abe Roth scoring the bout 7-2-1 in rounds for Pastor.[6]

October 28, 1941, marked the first time Pastor boxed abroad as a professional, when he faced old rival Al Delaney (whom Pastor had tied with in his eleventh fight as a professional boxer) at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada. This time, he dropped Delaney five times before scoring a sixth round technical knockout.[7]

On November 7 of that year, he met undefeated (16-0) prospect Booker Beckwith. Pastor almost scored a knockout victory when he dropped Beckwith for a nine-second count in round six, but Beckwith got up and finished the bout on his feet, Pastor nevertheless scoring a ten round unanimous decision win. Pastor's next bout was on December 12, against Jim Robinson, 31-13-1, at the Mechanics Building in Boston. In this fight, Pastor dropped his rival four times to score a first round knockout. Robinson was a late substitute for Jack Marshall, whose military obligations did not let him face Pastor that night.

On January 30, 1942, Pastor faced another world Light-Heavyweight champion, Gus Lesnevich, who also was recognized, like in Conn's case before, by the National Boxing Association and the New York State Athletic Commission and who was also trying his luck as a Heavyweight. Pastor defeated Lesnevich over ten rounds by unanimous decision, at the Madison Square Garden. Lesnevich would later gain universal recognition as world Light-heavyweight champion by knocking out British Freddie Mills.[8] A knockout in eight rounds against Lem Franklin (29-5-1) at the Arena, in Cleveland, Ohio, set Pastor up for a fight with Jimmy Bivins. Pastor-Bivins was on April 17, also at the Arena in Cleveland. Despite being dropped twice in round one, Pastor recovered and won the fight by a ten round split decision. Then, on May 22, Pastor faced Tami Mauriello, drawing with Mauriello over ten rounds in front of 12,000 attendants at the Madison Square Garden.[9] On September 25, he defeated Buddy Scott a third time, over ten rounds by decision at the Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

Last fight

Pastor's next fight turned out to be his last; on October 20, he faced Jimmy Bivins again, once again, also at the Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Pastor lost by split decision this time, retiring shortly afterwards.

Pastor compiled a record of 53 wins, 7 losses and 5 draws, with 17 wins by knockout, in only 7 years of fighting as a professional boxer, a relatively short amount of time in which to accumulate 65 professional bouts.

Wrong Pastor

During a visit to Arizona in 1992 as part of the 1992 United States Presidential campaign, Henry Cisneros, a confessed boxing fan, mistakenly introduced Ed Pastor as "Bob" to a donation-dinner crowd. This was a highly publicized mistake on Cisneros' part.[citation needed]