PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - August 08, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto


A pair of local boxing shows this weekend will provide a launching pad for three highly touted boxers making their professional debut. First on Friday night at the Sugar House Casino, welterweight Paul Kroll and junior featherweight Rasheen Brown bow in their first professional bouts in a card promoted by Kings Promotions. Then on Saturday night at the 2300 Arena, light heavyweight Benjamin Sinakin fights for the first time as a pro, on an event staged by Hard Hitting Promotions.  Next month, welterweight southpaw Bhieem Billips also makes his debut. 

This latest crop of rookies represent the best debuting class in Philadelphia since 2016, when nearly one dozen locals turned professional during that twelve months. The 2016 class, led by Jaron Ennis and Christian Carto, also included Joseph Adorno, Marcel Rivers, Victor Padilla, and Branden Pizarro. 2016 was so rich in new talent that it was dubbed Philly’s “Year of the Rookie” by this website.

Although the 2018 class is not nearly as deep as 2016, newbies Kroll, Brown, and Sinakin will certainly provide a jolt to the local fight scene and give fans much to be excited about. 

In a surprise 2016 winning streak, Paul Kroll marched through one qualifying amateur tournament after another, and landed a spot in the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio. All eyes were on more prominent Philly fighters (Jaron Ennis and Darmani Rock) highly favored to make it to the Olympics. However, it was Kroll who made it all the way and represented the USA. He did not medal at the games, but his achievement of making to the Olympics was a first for a Philly fighter since 2008.

Kroll, 23, was scheduled to make his pro debut late in 2016 before a legal issue put him on the shelf until this year. Then, he was expected to make his professional start this past June, but that bout was cancelled. So, Friday night, Kroll launches his career before his hometown fans.

Rasheen Brown, 20, grew up at the James Shuler Boxing Gym in West Philly. He’s the nephew of Percy “Buster” Custus, the Gym’s proprietor, and has been groomed for greatness since he was a baby. Brown, a slick southpaw, won multiple national titles as an amateur and took the first-ever “Amateur of the Year” medal at the Briscoe Awards in 2013.

Benjamin Sinakin, nicknamed the “Jewish Bulldog”, is a full-time postman when he’s not in the gym. He had a solid amateur career, including time as a super heavyweight. A little more than a year ago, he got serious about the fight game and began working like never before. His training regimen included a lot of running and strict dieting, and the effort helped to whittle Benny down to his current rock-solid light heavyweight form.

Each year, the rookie crop begins the next generation of local stars and potential future champions. Success is never guaranteed, but it all starts with the pro debut. This weekend, we’ll see three new prospects make their start. Then, only time will tell, if they can take their place among the Philly greats. 




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - August 08, 2018