May 25, 2022

Boxing For Mental Health

My wife gave me this ticket stub as a Christmas present last year.  It was either sold or given away at Brehm's Restaurant on Broad Street in West Hazleton, which is the present location of Hell's Kitchen Pizza.

Georgie Brehm owned and operated Brehm's Restaurant, and a lot of other things in the area.  He was my grandfather's uncle, and the stories I have heard about him could make a pretty damn good movie.  I won't get into the details here, but feel free to do your own research on why Hazleton was once known as "Mob City".

The St. Joe's Gym where this boxing event was scheduled to take place is another local landmark for folks who have grown up in the Hazleton area.  Hundreds of professional boxing and wrestling events had taken place over the years, including appearances by the late, great Andre The Giant throughout the 1970's.  As soon as I saw this stub, I wanted to do some research to learn more about the show.

Standard Speaker (Hazleton, PA) - May 25, 1954

The show was promoted by Joe Barletta, who was the uncle of former Congressman Lou Barletta.  He was a pretty interesting guy who wore a lot of hats in his life before he passed away in 1984.  He was a Gold Gloves boxer who officiated in the Eastern Pro Basketball League, the American Professional Basketball League, and the Harlem Globetrotters, as well as spending several summers officiating professional basketball in Puerto Rico.  He also worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Before his passing, Mr. Barletta was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.  In addition to all of this, he was also the manager of Angela Park for over a decade.  This was a family-owned amusement park in the area that I used to love going to when I was a kid.

Mr. Barletta promoted many basketball, boxing and pro wrestling events in Hazleton, including one event that brought Muhammad Ali to town for a public sparring match.  My dad got to see this from ringside when he was a kid, and Mr. Ali autographed my dad's library card, which was the only thing he had on him at the time.

So, what happened at the event that this ticket stub was for?

Standard Speaker (Hazleton, PA) - May 26, 1954

As it turns out, nothing happened, because only four of the 22 boxers who were scheduled to appear to the event showed up, with three other boxers from Harrisburg coming in late.  Because of all of the no-shows, the event was postponed and everybody's money was refunded.  I guess you can't win 'em all.