Benjamin (Evil Eye) Finkle

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Benjamin"Evil Eye"Finkle
  • Name: Benjamin Finkle
  • Alias: Evil-Eye Finkle
  • Birthdate:  ?/?/1898
  • Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
  • Hometown: Miami Beach, Florida
  • Height: 5 feet 11inches ?
  • Weight: 135lbs.
  • Manager: Brooklyn Tommy Sullivan
  • Boxing Record: 5-1-2


Career Review

Benjamin "Evil Eye" Finkle is a legendary figure in the sport of boxing, known for his "Evil-Eye" Hex during the Golden Age of Boxing the 1930s and '40s.

Finkle was born into a poor family. He had little formal education, and made money selling newspapers on the local street corner. It was there he learned to fight; punching out street toughs and young thugs, bent on stealing his earnings. After one such street brawl, Finkle was discovered and trained by Brooklyn Tommy Sullivan. Sullivan turned Finkle pro at the ripe old age of 14. In his second match, Finkle boxed a draw with a local fighter billed as No First Name Boozerman. Finkle's style was a turn-off to the fans. He mauled, clutched, and pushed his opponents. In his 8th professional fight, Finkle lost by a foul to Jack Rainy, when Referee Harry Sharpegrew tired of Finkle's hitting and holding. After compiling a modest record of 5-1-2, Finkle retired as a fighter.

However, Benjamin Finkle's career in boxing had really just begun. Finkle went into managing. His first and it turned out, only fighter, was an obscure club-fighter named Patsy Flanagan. Flanagan's career never took off, but Finkle's did. He started giving Flanagan's opponents the "Evil Eye." Many fighters became "bothered" by this "hex," and the legend of Benjamin "Evil Eye" Finkle was born. In 1926, Finkle told local sports writers that his right eye, which was somewhat bloodshot, had "evil" powers. The gimmick caught on, and soon Evil Eye's services were being called upon by such legendary trainers and managers as Doc Hearns, Angelo Dundee, Swifty Morgan, Lew Diamond, Joe Gould, and Dumb Dan Morgan.

Finkle went on to work with such hall-of-fame boxing champions as Jack Dempsey, Bob Foster, Willie Pastrano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Billy Conn, Freddie Steele, and Floyd Patterson. "Evil Eye" charged between 50 and 300 dollars to use his "Evil-Eye Hex" while working the corner of a fighter.

Cartoonist Al Capp made Finkle famous when he immortalized him as "Evil-Eye Fleegle" in his Lil Abner comic strip. New York Sports columnist Dan Parker called Finkle, " The Number 1 hex-man in the world."

In 1938, Finkle moved to Miami Beach, Florida where the boxing scene was taking off. Finkle would end up living there for over 50 years.

World War II breifly halted his career, Finkle served in the U.S. Army, serving in England and Scotland.

On June 1, 1948, Finkle renewed his career when he appeared on the CBS show We The People with Fred Allen. Finkle gave the "Evil-Eye" to the camera.

His major vice, besides a good cigar, was shoes. In his hey-day, he reportedly owned 59 pairs of shoes.

By the mid 1950s, with the local fight clubs dying off, and television becoming the center of attention, "Evil Eye Finkle's services were no longer needed. He still managed to work a few corners, but for the most part became a fixture at ringside at Chris Dundee's weekly Tuesday night fight cards at the Miami Beach Auditorium. The lanky Finkle would always be seen eating a deli-sandwich, drinking coffee, and smoking a cigar.

New Jersey promoter Willie Gilzenberg while vacationing in Miami Beach, Florida in 1969 contacted Finkle about using his " Triple Whammy" at one of his promotions, but nothing came of it.


In the 1970s, Finkle became a regular at the Dade Athletic Club Lounge, where he told stories of boxing's glory days. He was always seen in his black-suit, with an open collar white shirt. At about 5 feet 11 inches, he tipped the teams at around 135lbs.

In 1973, The "Evil Eye" was brought out of retirement, when Finkle worked the corner of non-script Miami heavyweight Ron Casey (Florida). Casey who had never won a fight, hoped that Finkle's "Evil Eye" would help him in his match with undefeated Al Migliorato. The "Eye" must have lost some of its steam, because Casey went on to be knocked cold, yet again. Finkle had better luck when he briefly cornered promising heavyweight prospect, John L. Johnson. In August, 1973, Finkle worked Johnson's corner for his fight with the Carlos Dunston. " He told me to go out and get him, " said Johnson. " But, I already had. I knocked him out in the third round. I believed in Finkle's powers. "

Finkle's last two appearances in the squared circle were working the corner of Sherman Bergman, a colorful, hard-punching, amateur welterweight from Miami Beach. "Evil Eye" Finkle managed to find his powers once again, as Bergman went on to score first round knockouts over Raymond Brown and Leroy McFadden. Both Brown and McFadden were overheard saying in the dressing room following their defeats, "Wasn't the punches of Bergman that did me in, but that "Evil Eye" of that Benjamin Finkle. Don't mess with that cat."

A few years later, Benjamin "Evil Eye" Finkle died in Miami Beach, Florida in relative obscurity; thus closing the book on one of boxing's most colorful and controversial characters.

Sources

  • The Sweet Science, June 14, 2005: EVIL-EYE FINKLE: TWO PARTS VOODOO AND ONE PART FRAUD, by Pat Putnam.
  • We The People, CBS TV, June 1, 1948.