|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY October 02, 2010||
MAUREEN SACKS - THE GLUE THAT HOLDS PELTZ BOXING TOGETHER
International boxing Hall-of-Fame promoter J Russell Peltz has been admired by friend and foe for most of the 41 years he has been in the business. When he became Director of Boxing at The Spectrum in Philadelphia late in 1972, he met an impressive young woman who was working there. More than 11 years later, after Peltz had left The Spectrum to again go out on his own, she would go to work for him, eventually becoming Vice President of Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc. Her name is Maureen Sacks.
“When I went to work at The Spectrum late in 1972, Maureen was working there as a teenager,” Peltz said. “She was a secretary to the guys who were in charge of all the unions at The Spectrum – electricians, stagehands, carpenters, ushers, security, etc. I left The Spectrum in 1980 and she left sometime in the mid-1980s.
“Maureen began working with me on a part-time basis in 1983. She became full-time one year later. I couldn’t make it without her. She does everything but make matches. She rents the arenas, orders the ushers, security, ambulance, tickets, postcards, postage. She gets the tickets printed and sells them and she writes the checks and she does just about everything. She’s also the pleasant voice on the other end of the phone, unlike me.”
I could not have said it any better. Maureen is pleasant, yet business-like. If you want something done at Peltz Boxing, call her. If she doesn’t have the answer she will get it for you. I have known her for more than 25 years and I have never heard a negative word spoken about her.
Peltz and I do not always see eye-to-eye, but one thing we agree on is that boxing in Philadelphia would not be the same without her. She avoids the limelight. She does what has to be done and she delivers. On top of that being as attractive as she is doesn’t hurt. She looks like someone who just stepped out of a dress shop in Paris!
I asked some people who have been involved with Peltz Boxing and had dealings with Maureen for their opinion of her.
“Maureen has always been an ace with me,” said Keith McMenamin (phillykeith.com).
“She is the glue that holds Peltz Boxing together,” said Fred Jenkins (ABC Recreation Center). “She always helps you if she can. No Complaining. I’ve known her for 27 years.”
“She is the NUTS and BOLTS of the office,” said Greg Sirb. (Executive Director for PA Commission).
“Maureen is the glue that holds Peltz boxing together!” said Joey Eye (cut man and actor). “Without her he would have fallen apart and faded away years ago! He is always a nervous wreck putting together his shows. You would think it is his first time out every time he does a show. She stays calm, cool and collected and handles everything from nuts to bolts. Like Peltz says, she does everything but make matches. She is a nice and diplomatic person. Something that good old Uncle Rusty ain’t! So they are a good compliment to each other.”
“Maureen never saw a hat that she didn’t like!” said Chuck Diesel (boxing manager). “Regardless of the nature of your business with Peltz Boxing, Maureen wins you over simply with her appearance and demeanor.”
“I started working with Maureen and Peltz Boxing in 1985, when I first had Ali Bey,” said Dave Ruff (former manager, now writer). “She handled all Russell’s hotel arrangements. I dealt with her through the years from ’85 on. She would be the contact person for Peltz. She would mail out contracts, etc. She seems to have good knowledge of boxers and boxing. I think she’s an unsung boxing hero. She’s the least known, but she’s handled so much through the years. She’s always kept in touch with me and is a very nice person.”
“She’s always calm, cool and collected,” said top referee Steve Smoger. “Very steady; efficient! Always responsive with anything regarding a show and gets back to you promptly. I’ve dealt with her for over 20 years.”
“Maureen has been Russell’s right hand for more years than I came to remember,” said Harold Lederman (HBO boxing judge). “She is an integral part of the Peltz Boxing Team and I have known her to do everything necessary to put on all the great shows they have done for so many years. She is invaluable in the box office, the Peltz Boxing Office and every other place Russell does business. Besides, she’s one of the friendliest, nicest people in boxing.”
“She is a nice person,” said Jim Williams (manager and cut man). “Any information you ask for she get’s for you.”
“I’ve known her for 10-11 years and she’s Russell Peltz’ right-hand assistant,” said Doc Nowicki (manager). “She does an excellent job and is always on top of everything. She’s an extremely, extremely nice person. She is always pleasant and polite.”
“Maureen’s the best,” said John DiSanto (phillyboxinghistory.com). “I can’t tell you how many times she’s helped me with seats for fights. I usually have special location requests, and she always finds what I’m looking for. I know I’m being a pain, but she never makes me feel that way.”
“She is fantastic,” said legendary matchmaker Don Elbaum. “She’s the dream assistant. She’s a plus. She’s incredible.”
Although she said an interview with her “would be too boring,’ I persisted.
HISSNER: How in the world did you handle the union tradesmen, as young as you were ?
MAUREEN: "I worked for a Colonel (Frank Herbert) and a Major (Ray Westergard). No one was going to give them any trouble. I did the time cards for the tradesmen and I got along with everyone."
HISSNER: Were you interested in boxing at all before you agreed to work with Russell?
MAUREEN: "Not at all!"
HISSNER: How many years did it take for you to get Russell to do things your way?
MAUREEN: "What makes you think he listens to me?"
HISSNER: Where did you grow up?
MAUREEN: "What makes you think I grew up? Seriously: Ambler, Pennsylvania."
HISSNER: You have been doing everything but the matches for over 25 years and I know you must have plenty of stories that you can and cannot tell. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind you can tell us?
MAUREEN: "None that I can repeat!"
HISSNER: I realize that Bennie Briscoe is Russell’s favorite fighter. What is your opinion of “Bad” Bennie when you were dealing with him over the years?
MAUREEN: "Bennie was retired by the time I went to work for Russell, but I know Russell stays in touch with him and he has helped Bennie and his wife Karen out over the years."
HISSNER: Considering all the Philadelphia fighters you have had to deal with and all the nicknames like Gypsy, Kitten, Boogaloo, Cyclone, The Worm, The Executioner, Bad Bennie, The Prince, The Hatchet, Choo Choo, The Animal, The Camden Buzz Saw, Bam Bam, The Bull, The Jewish Bomber, TNT and the Punching Postman, have you ever gotten them mixed up when talking to them?
MAUREEN: "Not at all!"
HISSNER: Some would say a boxing show in Philadelphia is a far cry than in say Atlantic City. How do you feel about the two of these places?
MAUREEN: "Fights in Philadelphia present more work for me because I have to deal with all the ticket sales. In Atlantic City, the casinos handle the ticket sales and the counting of the gate but it’s my responsibility in Philadelphia. The casinos also take care of the ushers, security, ambulance – things like that which I take care of in Philadelphia. However, the medical requirements and licensing requirements are more complicated in New Jersey so that presents other obstacles."
HISSNER: I know one of Russell’s other favorites is Hall-of-Fame light-heavyweight champion Harold Johnson. He was the first Philadelphia boxer I ever wrote about. Talk about a class act--he’s it with a capitol C. What do you do when they either drop in or come by appointment and Russell’s not there for small talk?
MAUREEN: "Harold used to come by a lot years ago when he was able. Now I believe he’s in a Veterans Home in Germantown. Our office is filled with boxing memorabilia, including just about everything connected to Harold. He was a fine gentleman. He always greeted me with dignity and class. All of the guys who come to the office are friendly and courteous."
HISSNER: There certainly can be some crude people in the sport like it is in any business. Without naming names, how have you handled an irate person upset with something Russell has done wrong in their eyes? Not that anyone could ever get mad at Russell.
MAUREEN: "I usually agree with them. Just kidding! When people get mad at Russell, he figures a way to work it out."
HISSNER: There was a time when Harold Moore helped with the matchmaking or Becky O’Neill managed world champion Jeff Chandler. Do you sometimes miss the old days and people?
MAUREEN: "Becky and her husband Willie were great people. Sometimes Russell and I would stop by their house in South Philly in the morning just to sit around and talk. Harold Moore was a real class guy, very friendly, very reliable and very concerned about us. I miss all of them."
HISSNER: Have you ever given any advice on certain matches you would like to see?
HISSNER: Russell has mostly stayed in the northeastern section of the country with his promotions. Unless he has a fighter on a major card say in Las Vegas do you ever wish he would branch out?
MAUREEN: "I’m fine with the way things are. I’ve been to Las Vegas for fights, to San Antonio, TX, Paris, London, Budapest, Miami Beach, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Indianapolis."
HISSNER: Who is your favorite fighter?
MAUREEN: "Arturo Gatti. Most people don’t know that Peltz Boxing was partners with Main Events in the promotion of Arturo Gatti fights from Gatti’s pro debut in 1991 until right before the first Mickey Ward fight in 2002."
HISSNER: I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been to not only have you agree to this interview but to have known you over the years and personally say you have been one of the bright spots for me in boxing. Now that I said that, let me tell you how I really feel. I’m just kidding. Anything you would like to say in wrapping this up about the sport of boxing?
MAUREEN: Keep your hands up at all times.