Pinky Silverberg (April 5, 1904 – January 16, 1964) was a Connecticut-based American boxer who briefly held the National Boxing Association (NBA) World Flyweight Title in late 1927. With an efficient defense, Silverberg was knocked out only once in his career by Willie LaMorte in 1926. His managers were Johnny Herman, Lou Anger, and Joe Smith. Problems with his hands, which were often broken during his career, may have hampered many of his boxing performances.[1][2][3]

Early life and career

Pinky Silverberg was born into a Jewish family in the Bronx on April 5, 1904. He would eventually become one of six siblings, with three other boys and two girls. His father relocated to Ansonia, Connecticut in 1920 to find work in one of the many factories in the Naugatuck Valley.[4]

Silverberg began his career in 1920 when he was only 16 by adding two years to his age so he could begin boxing professionally. His older brother Herman, who may have influenced his choice to be a boxer, was also a featherweight known as "Kid Silvers" and fought feature bouts in New York boxing clubs. Between September 1920, and June 1925, Pinky fought twenty-seven bouts almost exclusively in the Connecticut area, losing only three, and winning fourteen, with three by knockout.[1][4] The nine draws among his initial bouts indicated that his rise to prominence was gradual but that he learned from these bouts and over time improved his technique.

Taking the Connecticut Flyweight Championship, October 1925

Silverberg took the Connecticut Flyweight Championship on October 17, 1925 against Al Beuregard at the Opera House in Ansonia, Connecticut in a ten round points decision.[3] The important win heralded his emergence as a potential flyweight contender.

Only knockout loss to Willie LaMorte, April 1926

Willie LaMorte

In what may well have been his only loss by knockout, on April 5, 1926, Silverberg lost to accomplished boxer Willie LaMorte at Footguard Hall in Hartford, Connecticut in a difficult bout lasting only three rounds.[3] Apparently LaMorte had Silverberg down cold, as Pinky lost to LaMorte again on June 25, 1928 at Laurel Garden in Newark, New Jersey in a ten round points decision. According to the Newark Star-Eagle, LaMorte floored Silverberg in the first round, taking all but two of the rounds in the bout.[3]

Bouts with flyweight contender Black Bill, 1927–28

Fighting at only 113 pounds, on January 19, 1927, Silverberg lost to Black Cuban boxer Eladio Valdes known as Black Bill at the Walker Athletic Club in New York in a six round points decision. The bout was a benefit for the great Black black boxer Sam Langford. A noteworthy Black Cuban flyweight at the time, Black Bill would later contend for the NYSAC World Flyweight Championship in March 1930 against Midget Wolgast. Silverberg would lose to Black Bill again in a six round points decision on December 29, 1928 at the Olympia Athletic Club in New York.

Taking the NBA World Flyweight Championship from Ruby Bradley, October 1927

First bout with Ruby Bradley, January 1926

On January 27, 1926, Silverberg first met Ruby (Dark Cloud) Bradley in Hartford, Connecticut losing in an eight round points decision. In a close bout, the hometown paper, the Hartford Courant, questioning the decision, wrote, "Silverberg outsmarted Bradley, he carried the fight to Bradley and his punches were straighter and truer, he looked good to everybody except the third man in the Ring (referee)."[3] Bradley was a top Black flyweight contender who was rated as the third best flyweight in the world by Ring Magazine in 1931.[5]

Taking the NBA World Flyweight Title from Ruby Bradley, October 1927

Silverberg won the NBA World Flyweight Championship vacated by Fidel LaBarba, who had recently retired, by defeating Ruby "Dark Cloud" Bradley in Bridgeport, Connecticut on October 22, 1927, when Bradley was disqualified for delivering a low blow to Silverberg in the seventh round. Silverberg was unable to continue the bout due to the injury.[3] Some boxing officials may have felt that Silverberg's title was not as fully justifiable due to his win by disqualification, though the World Championship Title belt was presented to Silverberg officially by the NBA commissioner a few weeks after his win.

Loss to Ruby Bradley for which Silverberg's World Flyweight Title was stripped

Ruby Bradley was a talented flyweight boxer who had taken the New England Flyweight Championship in late 1926, but likely not the best known or highly reputed boxer Silverberg would face in his career. Bradley would never take a world title, and contend only once for the NYSAC Flyweight Championship unsuccessfully later in his career.

Silverberg met Bradley again on December 3, 1927, in a fateful match that was contested above the flyweight limit at the State Armory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was therefore not a title bout. Bradley beat him in a ten-round unanimous decision. Only a few days after the match, the President of the NBA stripped Silverberg of the title for an "unsatisfactory showing" in the bout. As a boxing historian later put it, "it remains the only time in boxing history that a champion was shorn of a legitimately won championship due to a poor performance in a non-title bout." It is important to note that Silverberg was boxing with a broken hand in the bout which hampered his performance, adding to the injustice of stripping him of his title.[2][3][6][7]

After his loss to Bradley, Silverberg began boxing exclusively as a bantamweight at a weight range of 112 to 118 pounds. The poster of Silverberg at right, published around 1928, shows his new status as a bantamweight contender, and lists many of the boxers he met formerly as a flyweight.

Reasons why the NBA World Flyweight Title was never restored to Silverberg

Due to a power struggle within the organization's hierarchy, the NBA never achieved a consensus to restore the championship to Silverberg. Adding to the confusion, there was no single organization at the time that sanctioned a World Flyweight Champion, and in the 1920's over a dozen World Flyweight Champions were recognized by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), and the European Boxing Union (EBU).[1] Though he would meet a few of the era's greatest boxers near his weight class, Silverberg would never have the opportunity to fight in a title bout again.

At 116 pounds, on July 24, 1928, Silverberg lost to Norwegian Pete Sanstol at Queensboro Stadium in Queens, in a six round points decision. An accomplished opponent, Sanstol would later take the World Bantamweight Championship on May 20, 1931 against Archie Bell in Montreal.[3]

Losing to contender Archie Bell, September 1928

Silverberg met fellow New England Jewish contender Archie Bell on September 22, 1928, in a feature bout at the Ridgewood Grove in Bell's hometown of Brooklyn, losing in a six round points decision.[8] Bell would contend several times for but never take a world title. A talented contender, in May 1927, Bell had competed for the British version of the World Bantamweight Title in London, but lost a fifteen round decision. Later in his career in 1932-2, he would contend for the World Bantamweight Title again in Britain, and twice for the California version of the World Featherweight Title.[9]

Bout with future Featherweight World Champion Kid Chocolate, November 1928

1928 Poster of Silverberg
Kid Chocolate

At 118 pounds, on November 8, 1928, Silverberg lost to Black boxer Kid Chocolate, then a sensational Cuban bantamweight, at New York's St. Nicholas Arena, in a ten round points decision. The Kid won easily on points but did not score a significant knockdown of Silverberg throughout the bout. In his career after 1930, Chocolate would take the NBA World Super Featherweight, and NYSAC World Featherweight titles. The January 2002 Ring Magazine once rated Chocolate as the fifth greatest featherweight of all time.[10][3] Remaining on his feet for six rounds with the Kid was no small victory for Silverberg, demonstrating he could stand in the ring with some of the greatest boxers of the era. Kid Chocolate is listed first among the boxers Silverberg fought in black print on the poster at right. Chocolate's name appears in the column on the left of his photo in the poster.

On May 25, 1929, Silverberg lost to Petey Sarron, future NBA World Featherweight Champion, in an important fifteen round points decision in Melbourne, Australia. Both boxers fought in the featherweight range at 120 pounds.[3] The poster at right shows Silverberg announcing his status as a bantamweight contender, and noting his return from Australia in 1929. It also lists many of the fighters he had fought up to that point in his career including Pete Sarron, in red near the bottom of the poster, as well as in black on the left of his picture.

Bout with future British flyweight champion Nel Tarleton, November 1929

At 122 pounds, on November 11, 1929, Silverberg lost to exceptional English flyweight Nel Tarleton in a ten round points decision at the Nicholas Arena in New York. Tarleton would first take the British (BBOC) Featherweight Title in October 1931. Tarleton easily won the contest taking every round but the tenth. Fighting at 125, Silverberg gave up three pounds to his opponent.[11]

Loss to Bantamweight Champion "Panama" Al Brown, January 1930

Panama Al Brown

On January 25, 1930, Silverberg lost to Panama Al Brown reigning NBA World Bantamweight Champion, in a non-title ten round points decision at the Arena Polar in Havana, Cuba. At 5' 9", using his five inch advantage in height and reach, Brown was in command throughout the fight. A defensive master, Brown nullified all of Silverberg's advances with effective left jabs and hard rights, though there were no knockdowns in the bout. Silverberg demonstrated he could remain on his feet with some of the best boxers of his era.[12] Brown had taken the NYSAC Bantamweight Champion against Gregorio Vidal on June 18, 1929 in New York, later gaining NBA recognition for the title as well.

Important bouts with NYSAC Flyweight Champion Midget Wolgast, 1930–31

Midget Wolgast

On March 9, 1931, Silverberg met Midget Wolgast, for the last time, at the Park Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut losing in a ten round points decision. Silverberg could not manage the speedy attack of Wolgast.[13] The two contenders had previously met in important non-title bouts on March 10 and May 8, 1930 in Queens, N. Y., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Silverberg lost in 10 and 8 round points decisions.

In March 1930, Wolgast had impressively taken the NYSAC World Flyweight Title against Black Bill at Madison Square Garden. He clinched the title on May 1930 against Willie LeMorte. Several boxing websites rated Wolgast the eighth greatest flyweight of all time.[14]

Life after boxing

Silverberg won his last known fight, a four rounder against Frankie Reese at Star Casino in New York.[3]

After his retirement from the ring, he stayed in touch with boxing and promoted fights, refereed local bouts, and coached ring science as a volunteer at a local YMCA in the 1940s.[15]

In the fall of 1950, Silverberg was the subject of legal prosecution and conviction for the entertainment provided at a large gala held at his newly opened gymnasium in Ansonia.[16][17] Silverberg was known in Ansonia for his campaign work in a local mayoral election.

By the early 1950s Silverberg was working as an inspector for aircraft engines at AVCO Lycoming in Stratford, Connecticut near his hometown of Ansonia. He fought in the Connecticut area and lived in Ansonia during much of his early life and career.[1][4][3]

Silverberg recovered from a heart attack in 1959, though it was not his first.[18] He died at his home in Ansonia on January 16, 1964 after another heart attack at the age of 59. He was survived by his wife and two children, Janis, and Ron. Prior to the year 2000, Silverberg's boxing achievements were given little or no coverage by on-line boxing sites, and published boxing histories.[1][19]

Achievements and honors

Preceded by
Fidel LaBarba
Flyweight Boxing Champion
October 22, 1927 – Stripped December 1927
Succeeded by
Frankie Genaro

Silverberg was inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame on November 30, 2007.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Silver, Mike, Stars in the Ring, Jewish Champions, (2016) Rowman and Littlefield, Guilford, Connecticut, pgs. 247-8
  2. ^ a b "Pinky Silverberg". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Pinky Silverberg". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "Newhaven 200: Boxing Champion, Pinky Silverberg the Boxing Champion from Ansonia that History Forgot". New Haven Register News. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Ruby Bradley". BoxRec. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  6. ^ Silverberg was fighting with a broken hand in Silver, Mike, Stars in the Ring, Jewish Champions, (2016) Rowman and Littlefield, Guilford, Connecticut, pgs. 248
  7. ^ Silver, Mike (September 2005), "The Man History Forgot", The Ring, 84, no. 7: 51 
  8. ^ "Bell Beats Silverberg in Ridgewood Feature", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 23 September 1928
  9. ^ "Archie Bell". Jews in Sports. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  10. ^ "Kid Chocolate Wins", St. Louis Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri, pg. 51, 9 November 1928
  11. ^ "Al Singer Stops Johnny Shepherd", Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pg. 23, 12 November 1929
  12. ^ "Brown Cops Duke Over Silverberg", Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, pg. 24, 26 January 1930
  13. ^ "Wolgast Whips Silverberg", The Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware, pg. 11, 10 March 1931
  14. ^ All-Time Flyweight Rankings Retrieved on 2014-04-29
  15. ^ "Silverberg, Pinky". Jews in Sports. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  16. ^ "Silverberg Faces Year if He Loses on Appeal", Sunday Herald, Bridgeport, Connecticut, pg. 111, 1 October 1950
  17. ^ "Silverberg Has Choice of Sixty Days Or Big Fine", Sunday Herald, Bridgeport, Connecticut, pg. 76, 21 January 1951
  18. ^ Parker, Dan, "Broadway Bugle", Courier Post, Camden, New Jersey, pg. 19, 9 February 1959
  19. ^ "Pinky Silverberg, Ex-Ring Champ Dies", Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, pg. 48, 17 January 1964