Nate Druxman

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Druxman, circa 1935

Name: Nate Druxman
Birth Name: Nate Druxinman
Born: 1892-03-25
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: 1969-11-20 (Age:77)
Nationality: US American
Hometown: Seattle, Washington, USA
Boxing Record: click

Division: Lightweight
Manager: Lonnie Austin

Biography

Nate Druxman was born "Nate Druxinman" in the family home above his father's furniture store in Seattle, Washington, March 25, 1892 to Jewish parents originally from the Ukraine. He changed his surname, along with brother Harry, to "Druxman" in the early 1900s. (The Druxman store was located behind what later became the G. O. Guy Drugstore at Second Avenue South and Yesler Way.) Nate's two brothers, Leo and Harry, became Seattle jewelers. (Harry later would spell his last name "Druximan," according to the January 7, 1922 Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.)(It is unknown whether the family is related to a Moses Druximan (Druxinman), a pioneer Seattle jeweler and Seattle resident since 1890, who was convicted in April 1904 for running a notorious fencing operation out of his store. The Post-Intelligencer made a "big stink" when he was paroled early, in January 1906, insinuating that he had strong political connections. See the Jan. 23, 1906 P-I for a drawing of Moses. The Feb. 8, 1936 Argus of Seattle reported that a Moses Druxman, aged 77 and father of Nate, had died.)

According to the Nov. 1, 1964 Seattle Daily Times, Druxman attended the old South School with classmates Bill Fitzgerald (future Seattle fire chief) and Billy Vetro (future boxer). Later he attended Pacific School, where he met his future wife of 51 years, Ms. Jessie Simmons. The Nov. 21, 1982 Post-Intelligencer mistakenly identified Jessie Simmons as Nate's mother. In fact, she had been born Ms. Jessie Marie Simmons Nov. 14, 1895 in Seattle. Her maternal grandfather, Mose(s) Korn, was an early Seattle settler, and one of the city's first alderman. He erected the famous Korn Block--a pioneer structure on the southwest corner of Second and Yesler Avenue, in Seattle's Pioneer Square district. They met while Druxman was playing baseball for the local Elks Club, and were married Nov. 6, 1914.

"I came up the hard way," Druxman was quoted in the Nov. 1, 1964 Seattle Daily Times. "Quit school after the eighth grade and went to work for the Schwabacher Brothers."

Per the Hard Drive to the Klondike Web site: "Schwabacher Brothers and Company was a prominent merchandising business. Established in Seattle in 1869, it was also one of the city's oldest. In 1888, Schwabacher Hardware Company incorporated as a separate business. Schwabacher Brothers and Company sold groceries, clothing, and building materials. The store was located in Seattle's commercial district, and the company also maintained a wharf. These facilities, along with the Schwabachers' longstanding presence in Seattle, placed the company in an advantageous position when the gold rush began. Schwabacher's wharf received considerable publicity in July of 1897, when the Portland, laden with Klondike gold, docked there and set off the rush to the Yukon."

Druxman drove a black Dodge roadster company car with a "silent motor starter" and the words "Schwabacher Hardware" painted on its side. He also "did a little lightweight boxing and played semi-pro baseball with guys like Charlie Schmutz and Charlie Mullins.... Baseball was my first love and, for a while, I thought I was going to be a big-league player." When he was ten-years old, Druxman was a mascot for D. E. Dugdale, and also peddled popcorn at the old Liberty Ballpark at 14th and Jefferson streets.

Not meeting much success as a baseball player, Druxman tried his hands at professional boxing. It didn't last long: "Jim Goldsmith, president of Schwabachers', took a dim view of my boxing career, however, I was 18 and needed the job, so I quit boxing and devoted full time to being a cigar salesman. I worked for the Schwabachers from 1910 to 1929 when I opened the new [[Civic Ice Arena]] for both ice hockey and boxing shows." (The Civic Arena opened in 1927 and later became known as the Seattle Center Arena when the 1962 World's Fair opened, and after a major remodel is today known as Mercer Arts Arena.) Druxman started promoting boxing shows at the Seattle Elks Club at Fourth Avenue and Spring Street in August 1914, with Eddie Hughes and Portus Baxter (newspaper sportswriters), Dr. J. C. Moore (physician), and Ralph Horr (attorney). Baxter, sports editor for the Post-Intelligencer, around this time tagged a young Ralph Alva Ridley with the moniker "Bud," per "Bud Ridley's" series of articles entitled "A Decade in the Ring," published in the Bremerton, Washington, Daily News Searchlight newspaper in early 1933. The Elks Lodge would eventually played host to such acts as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Today, what was once the Elks gymnasium is known as the Falls thrust stage of Seattle's "A Contemporary Theatre" ("ACT"). Elks Lodge 92 made Druxman an honorary life member. (He also became a Mason.)

In those days public prize-fighting (professional boxing) was illegal in Washington state, but private club fights among club members were permitted. The applicable statute allowed "sparring or fencing amongst members of private clubs for exercise only or for the enjoyment of their fraternal brothers." Thus, virtually all bouts in the state were usually held in the various American Legion posts, Eagles, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodges, and other clubs for their "members." Anyone wishing to witness a scheduled boxing contest who was not already a member of the club was required to obtain a membership card and sometimes levied an assessment for the seat. The boxers sometimes were paid "training expenses." "Furthermore, the promoters didn't pay the fighters, but the fighters' managers, and, as boxing impresario Biddy Bishop told a Seattle judge in January 1930, how managers subsequently distributed the money was none of his business. The reason that such thin fictions worked was that Seattle boxing fans included Seattle Times publisher Alden Blethen and his friends." JCS: Harold Hoshino: Svith (Professional boxing eventually was legalized in Washington state, effective June 8, 1933, after countless efforts throughout the intervening years, many of which were stalled by boxers dying of injuries sustained in local rings.) "Boxing was illegal here in those days," Druxman said, "so club members would call the shows 'smokers' and we'd pack 'em in at $1 a head. In fact, the first legal fight ever held in Seattle was the 15-rounder between Abie Israel and Freddie Miller, the featherweight champ. I promoted at the Ice Arena in 1932. [Actually, the Israel-Miller bout occurred July 11, 1933.] Every previous fight was a non-title four or six-rounder." Nov. 1, 1964 Seattle Daily Times.

Other popular local boxing venues at this time included the Boxing (Boeing) Pavilion at Third and University Streets (which, circa 1922, became Blanc's Cafe), the Cascade Athletic Club (with matchmaker Jimmy Malone, who may be the same Jim Malone who became the inaugural president of the Seattle Boxing Association), the Northwest A.C., Austin & Salt's (operated by Lonnie Austin and Caruso "Dan" Salt), and the National A.C. (which was run by Nate and brother Harry Druximan). Druxman later moved to Seventh Avenue and Pike Street with his Druxman Athletic Club. (The newspaper source for this last factoid may be referring to his earlier National A.C.) By 1925, Nate had opened his own club at 2021 Second Avenue: the Crystal Pool.

In August 1931 Nate Druxman brought former world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey back to Seattle for three exhibition bouts with Denny Lenhart that filled the Civic Arena. (Dempsey had been to Seattle before. During World War I he had worked in the local shipyards for a spell. [[A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s]], by Roger Kahn, pp. 109 & 164.) Many other well-known fighters at one time or another boxed or refereed for Druxman. They included Tod Morgan, Freddie Steele, Al Hostak, Gorilla Jones, Ted Krache, Dode Bercot, Travie Davis, Henry Woods, Max Baer, Doc Snell, Cecil Payne, Henry and Eddie Geysel, Allen Matthews, Harry (Kid) Matthews, and countless others.

Eventually Druxman and wife Jessie were able to build a fine home at 2158 East Shelby Street on the Lake Washington ship canal. They had four sons: Robert N. (who moved to Juneau, Alaska), E. J. (Bud), Calvin H., and Edward (who moved to Colville, WA). Later, they moved to 5025 Pullman Avenue NE.

Druxman then opened a real estate business on 24th Avenue. He continued to promote boxing matches until 1942, when World II broke out. He then went to work for the special services section at the Port of Embarkation. By war's end he had sold millions of dollars worth of War Bonds, and received a Presidential citation for his work on behalf of Armed Forces recreation. Meanwhile, wife Jessie became known as Seattle's No. 1 "war correspondent." Earlier, she had been very active with the Boy Scouts, mainly with the Camp Parsons Scouts. Many of those Scouts had now gone to war abroad. She "wrote hundreds of letters to Seattle Scouts serving in the war, kept a file of names and address and acted as a clearing house for Scouts in the armed forces wishing to get in touch with each other." Post-Intelligencer, Nov. 15, 1965. She also kept track of her boys' movements on a map and produced "care packages" for them. Three of the Druxman sons also served in the U.S. military during the war.

In 1965, Nate's brother Harry, then a prominent Seattle jeweler, died. Harry's widow, Florence Druxman, who had been born in Spokane, died in late November 1968, and is buried at the Hills of Eternity. They were survived by their sons Michael B. and Barry A. Druxman.

Nate and Jessie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Nov. 6, 1964. By their 51st anniversary, Jessie had become quite ill. She died Saturday, November 13, 1965, and is buried in the Oak Lake Cemetery. She was survived by her sister Ethelyn Goodman of Los Angeles, Nate, and their four sons. Son Bud, a graduate of Garfield High School, became a real estate broker himself, and eventually became vice-president of the Nate Druxman Realty Co. Bud then lived at 408 Belmont Avenue East. In December 1982, when he was 44 years old, he ran for a seat on the Seattle City Council. Calvin moved to Texas in 1957, where he opened a real estate business in the town of Azle, became President of Druxmand & Associates in 1975, and died there Sept. 29, 1983, at age 58. The great Nate Druxman himself died on November 20, 1969 (Washington death certificate #026148). He was interred at Bikur Cholim Cemetery.

In 1982 son Ed Druxman donated to the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), located in the Montlake district of Seattle next to the University of Washington, a valuable collection of Druxman's photographs and other memorabilia. Among the photos are those of the famous fighters Druxman promoted, including one of champion Max Bear standing before the Crystal Pool with Nate's sons. The MOHAI collection also includes not only dozens of photographs of many boxers, but shots of Nate and Jim Corbett (Jan. 15, 1927); the brothers Nate, Leo and Harry together; and Nate with Al Hostak (March 15, 1940). Copies of these photos and others may be ordered from MOHAI.

Druxman is generally recognized as Seattle's leading boxing promoter during this era. He is best known for promoting Freddie Steele and Al Hostak, both to the Middleweight title. The July 1938 meeting of Steele and Hostak in Seattle is widely considered as the biggest boxing event ever held in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Unlike many promoters during the Great Depression, Druxman was actually able to increase his attendance and box office receipts throughout the 1930s. Druxman was very quick to slash his ticket prices, after the Crash in 1929. This, along with the talent he was promoting, would keep the public interested in boxing in Seattle throughout the 1930s.

During the early portion of Druxman's career, professional boxing was illegal in the state of Washington, as mentioned earlier. This meant that Druxman could not promote a world title fight in Seattle, even though Seattle was the home of 130 pound champion Tod Morgan during the mid-1920s; Morgan could have conceivably defended his title against popular local fighters such as Doc Snell and Leslie (Wildcat) Carter, among others. When boxing was legalized in Washington, Druxman was finally able to bring a world title fight to Seattle. All told, Druxman would promote eleven world title fights in Seattle;

  • July 11, 1933 Freddie Miller KO 4 Abie Israel (NBA Featherweight Title)
  • April 9, 1935 Barney Ross UD 12 Henry Woods (World Light Welterweight Title)
  • February 18, 1936 Freddie Miller UD 12 Johnny Pena (NBA Featherweight Title)
  • July 11, 1936 Freddie Steele UD 15 Eddie (Babe) Risko (NBA and NYSAC Middleweight Title)
  • May 11, 1937 Freddie Steele KO 3 Frank Battaglia (NBA and NYSAC Middleweight Title)
  • September 11, 1937 Freddie Steele KO 4 Ken Overlin (NBA and NYSAC Middleweight Title)
  • July 26, 1938 Al Hostak KO 1 Freddie Steele (NBA Middleweight Title)
  • November 1, 1938 Solly Kreiger MD 15 Al Hostak (NBA Middleweight Title)
  • June 27, 1939 Al Hostak TKO 4 Solly Kreiger (NBA Middleweight Title)
  • October 20, 1939 Henry Armstrong TKO 3 Ritchie Fontaine (World Welterweight Title)
  • July 19, 1940 Tony Zale TKO 13 Al Hostak (NBA Middleweight Title)

Family

  • Father of Robert, Calvin, Edward & E. J. "Bud" Druxman
  • Brother of fellow promoter and referee Harry Druxman
  • Brother of Leo Druxman who managed boxers in Seattle
  • Grandfather of mediator, professor, & writer Judy (nee: Druxman) Ware
  • Uncle of modern (2011) Washington state boxing judge and referee Barry Druxman
  • Uncle of Author/Screenwriter/Director Michael B. Druxman: [1]

External Links

  • Druxman's Promotional Record: [2]
  • Photo of interior of the Druxman Athletic Club: [3]
  • Photo of Druxman with Jack Dempsey: [4]; photo of Dempsey with Druxman's sons: [5]
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