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Jewish Journal

Robert ‘Bobby’ Frankel honored

by Tom Tugend

December 22, 2010 | 3:49 pm

Legendary horse trainer Robert “Bobby” Frankel, a long-time Pacific Palisades resident, is among seven athletes and sports figures elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (IJSHOF) for 2011.

Frankel, who died a year ago, scored 3,654 first-place victories and his nearly $228 million in career earnings made him the second winningest trainer in horseracing history. He was a five-time recipient of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.

Among this year’s seven honorees are five Americans, one Briton and one Russian. They will be inducted into the IJSHOF museum, on the campus of Israel’s Wingate Institute, in July 2013.

In addition to Frankel, the new inductees are:

London-born Samuel Elias, aka “Dutch Sam,” “The Terrible Jew” and “Star of the East,” who had to wait almost two centuries after his death in 1816 to make the Hall of Fame.

Standing 5-feet-6 and peaking at 135 pounds, Elias is regarded as the greatest small man in bare-knuckles ring history. He fought in 100 bouts, many lasting 35 to 60 rounds, and lost only one — his last, four years and 15,000 glasses of gin after his supposed retirement.

Judo pioneer Rena Kanokogi, the former Rusty Glickman of Brooklyn, known as the “mother of women’s judo,” almost single-handedly forced the Olympic Committee to recognize women’s judo. She coached the U.S. team in the 1988 Olympic Games.

In 1959, posing as a man, she won the New York State YMCA judo championship but had to return her medal after officials discovered her true gender.

Sports columnist Leonard Koppett, Moscow-born but New York-bred, is the only journalist elected to both the baseball and basketball halls of fame. In New York, “Koppy” wrote for the Herald Tribune, Post and Times, in addition to authoring 16 sports books.

Alfred Kuchevsky played a major role as defenseman in the Soviet Union’s domination of international ice hockey in the 1950s. He was named three times to the Soviet Hockey League All-Stars and is believed to live in Moscow.

The National Handball Association named Fred Lewis, a three- and four-wall handball champion, the 1970s “Player of the Decade.” He now lives in Arizona.

The International Pool Tour described billiards champ Michael Sigel as the “greatest living player of the 20th century.” He is the winner of 10 world titles and six U.S. Opens, including the World 8-Ball, 9-Ball, Straight Pool and Open championships. He now lives in Florida.

Los Angeles television producer and writer Joseph Siegman, who currently chairs the organization’s selection committee, founded the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. Since its beginning, the IJSHOF has inducted 350 sportsmen and sportswomen from 24 countries.

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