Name: Bobby Halpern
Alias: Hebrew Hammer
Birth Name: Robert Halpern
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, USA
Hometown: Bronx, New York, USA
Height: 5′ 10″ / 178cm
Boxing Record: click
Manager: Charley Casserta
Trainer: Charley Casserta
Robert "Bobby" Halpern was born in the Little Italy section of the Bronx, New York on April 25, 1933 (some sources list his birthday as May 31, 1931, and March 31, 1933). His father was Jewish and his mother was Irish. By the age of 15, Halpern had "graduated" from street fighting to amateur boxing, reportedly winning the the New Jersey Diamond Gloves in 1948. According to a 1977 Sports Illustrated article, Halpern "estimated he had close to 200 amateur bouts and had lost about 10."
In 1953, Halpern was arrested for armed robbery and served four years in Elmira prison. Nevertheless, according to an article published in the New York Press by C.J. Sullivan, Halpern turned professional as a heavyweight in 1954, winning his first three fights. The Jewish Sports Review, in their September/October 2001 issue (Volume 3, Number 1, Issue 25), wrote that Halpern defeated Bronx rival Moses Sterling twice in 1954. Halpern became known as "The Jewish Heavyweight Champion of New York." The article also credited Halpern with wins over Moses Walker and Chet McCord. However, none of these fights have been documented and likely did not occur as Halpern was in jail from 1953 through 1958.
Upon his from prison release in 1958, he turned to professional boxing. He fought future heavyweight title contender "Irish" Tom McNeeley on December 19, 1958 in New York, and lost a decision. A month later, he was convicted of kidnapping and robbery. The court sentenced him to to a term of 20 years to life.
Over the next 17 years, the 5 feet-10 inch, 180 pound "Hebrew Hammer" served his "time" in Attica, Sing Sing, and Dannemora state prisons. Upon his release in 1976, Halpern decided to lauch a comeback to the ring. On November 10, 1976, after almost 18 years out of the ring, he knocked out Terry Lee Kidd with a left hook in the first round in West Orange, New York. Two weeks later he was stopped in two rounds by future heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick.
Wins over David Conteh, Diego Joe Roberson, and Johnny Blaine (twice) followed. His comeback landed him a profile in Sports Illustrated. According to Sports Illustrated writer, Paul Zimmerman, Halpern knocked out Freddy McKay at 1:22 of the third round in Westchester County Center, after knocking McKay down three times. Zimmerman also reported that in a rematch with Diego Joe Roberson on November 9, 1977 in Westchester, Halpern scored a knock-out at 1:09 of the 7th round. He appeared in the The Ring Magazine and on television and radio. But Halpern's bad character continued to haunt him, his girlfriend accused him him of breaking her leg and knocking out 6 teeth. Halpern was charged, but the case dismissed when she failed to show up in court on May 1, she would seek justice another way.
Ten days later, Halpern was wounded by a shotgun blast while shopping at a Bronx clothing store. In September it was revealed by police that Halpern's ex-fianc�e, Antonia Maria Melendez, had been arrested and charged with hiring two hit-men to murder Halpern.
In 1981, readers of Flash Gordon's newsletter saw Halpern's mug in a series of print advertisements for auto parts; he claimed to be training for a comeback.
On August 15, 1982, according to a New York Times story, Halpern was arrested on a weapons charges in the Bronx. On June 24, 1983, in another Times report, he was indicted in Westchester County on a charge of conspiring to murder a man suspected of raping the wife of one of his associates in Pelham Manor.
On June 14, 2003, in the Bronx, New York, a smiling and happy Halpern appeared on Arthur Avenue--his childhood hangout--for a Youth Boxing Program, dispelling rumors he had died.
On May 20, 2008, Halpern appeared at a meeting of Ring 8 in New York. Halpern and his former ring foe, Guy Casale talked at great length. The two engaged in what can only be described as a deep and warm acknowledgement of mutual respect. After the meeting, Casale, now a police detective, said, "He(Bobby Halpern) was still in great shape for a guy who was in his 70's. He looked like he could go six rounds."
- The End of An Era for New York Boxing, May 12, 2005, by Mitch Abramson.
- Spitbucket News, June 14, 2003: YOUTH BOXING TAKES CENTER STAGE IN THE BRONX.
- Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2001, Volume 3, Number 1, issue 25.
- New York Times, October 21, 1992: BUT THE FIGHTER STILL REMAINS IN BELMONT; AFTER 59 YEARS OF TAKING IT ON THE CHIN, BOBBY HALPERN CAN STILL THROW A PUNCH, by Ivan Fisher.
- New York Times, June 24, 1983:SPORTS PEOPLE; EX-BOXER INDICTED.
- New York Times, August 15, 1982: SPORTS PEOPLE; COMING AND GOINGS.
- New York Times, January 26, 1980, page 24: BOBBY HALPERN ACQUITTED OF ARSON, by Josh Barbanel.
- New York Times, January 17, 1979: HALPERN, THE BOXER, HELD WITH 2 ON CHARGE OF SETTING BRONX FIRE, by Robert McFadden.
- New York Times, May 26, 1978, Sports Section, page B3: HALPERN SHOT A WEEK AFTER HIS BOXING COMEBACK.
- New York Times, May 12, 1978, Sports Section, page A21: HALPERN, FORMER CONVICT, SPARS FOR RIKER INMATES, by Thomas Rogers.
- Sports Illustrated, December 5, 1977: MAKING A COMEBACK FROM NOWHERE, by Paul Zimmerman.
- The Chronicle Herald, November 20, 1976, TREVOR BERBICK "OUTCLASSED" BOBBY HALPERN, by Lorna Inness.
- The New York Times, November 18, 1958: FLAMIO OUTPOINTS LYNCH AT ST. NICKS.
Below is Mike DeLisa's compilation of facts for 1978:
May 1 Halpern's girlfriend fails to show up in court after accusing him of breaking her leg and knocking out six teeth
May 11 Myles Coker Rikers Island, NY Exh
May 15 Guy "Rock" Casale New York LK 3
May 24 Angel Oquendo Bronx, NY Exh
May 25 Halpern is shot coming out of a Bronx clothing store; he survives
Jun 14 Dave Ditmar White Plains, NY Sch-x
Sep 20 Halpern's ex-fiancee, Antonia Maria Melendez, arrested and charged with hiring two hitmen to murder Halpern
Oct Halpern involved in traffic acciddent; threatens driver with imitation pistol; is later indicted for "menacing"
--- Inspirational Fighter of the Year Award, International Boxing Magazine
1979 Jan 6 Halpern arrested for arson of 12 businesses in the Bronx; case, but later acquitted.
1981 Halpern appears in series of print advertisements for auto parts, while training for a comeback