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Abe Attell "The Little Hebrew"

Written by Mark McCleary

All of five feet four inches and 122 pounds, Abe Attell would set a record with 21 consecutive title defenses as world Featherweight champion and would become a key player in one of sport’s most infamous conspiracies.

Born in San Francisco in 1884, Abe learned to fight as a young boy, growing up Jewish in an Irish neighborhood. "You can guess I used to fight 3, 4, 5, 10 times a day," he recalled.

In 1900, at the age of fifteen, Attell won his first fight, but only after promising his mother it would also be his last fight. Abe returned home with the $15 purse, which he gave to his mother. Abe recalled her reaction, "'You mean the fight is all over and you got this $15.00?' she asked. 'And you don't have no cuts on you at all.' I smiled and nodded my head.... She stood up and patted my head and in a slow voice asked, 'Abie, when are you going to fight again?'" Attell was given the nickname “The Little Hebrew.”

At the age of eighteen, Attell first won the world Featherweight title by defeating George Dixon. Attell would lose his title in the following year to Tommy Sullivan who he accused of being over the 122-poud weight limit. In 1906, Abe defeated Jimmy Walsh to earn unanimous recognition as the world Featherweight champion. Between 1906 and 1912, Attell would set a division record, with 21 consecutive title defenses.

During this streak, Abe often ran out of worthy featherweights and fought opponents in heavier weight classes. During his record-setting streak, Attell defeated International Boxing Hall of Fame members Johnny Kilbane, Battling Nelson, Freddie Welsh, Owen Moran, Ad Wolgast and Jim Driscoll. Abe’s nickname would change to “The Little Champ.”

In 1909, Abe’s brother Monte won the world bantamweight title, marking the first time two brothers had held world boxing titles concurrently.

Left - 1910 Philadelphia Caramel (E80)
Abe and Monte Attell, concurrent world title holders.
Right - 1910 Kopec (T229)

1951 Topps Ringside "The Little Hebrew"

Abe lost his title in 1912 to Kilbaine in a 20-round decision in which Kilbaine accused Attell of putting a substance on his gloves to blind Kilbaine. Abe retired in 1917.

In 1920, Attell again made headlines as a key player in the “Black Sox” scandal. Abe had allegedly acted as the messenger between gangster Arnold Rothstein and members of the Chicago White Sox who were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. Attell always maintained his innocence and eventually the charges against him were dropped when the prosecution could not produce sufficient evidence.

Attell had a record of 92 wins (51 by knockout), 10 losses, 18 draws and was one of the inaugural members of the IBHOF. Abe is often cited as one of the greatest fighters ever pound for pound.

Abe Attell Cards Checklist
1908 Ogden's Cigarettes "Pugilists & Wrestlers"
1909 James Jeffries Playing cards
1909 James Jeffries Playing cards (vs Nelson)
1909 James Jeffries Playing cards (vs Moran)
1910 American Caramel Co (E75)
1910 American Caramel Co (E77)
1910 “Twenty-Five Prize Fighters” (E78)
1910 Philadelphia Caramel 27 Scrappers (E79)
1910 Philadelphia Caramel 44 Scrappers (E80)
1910 Philadelphia Caramel 44 Scrappers (E80)
          (with Monte Attell)
1910 American Tobacco Co. Turkey Red (T9)
1910 ATC Mecca/Hassan/Tolstoi (T218)
1910 ATC Honest Long Cut/Miners Extra/Red Cross
1910 ATC Kopec Mouthpiece (T224)
1910 ATC Pet Cigarettes (T229)
1910 Khedevial Co - Khedivial/Khedival-2 backs/
          Surburg-3 backs Series 101 (T225)
1910 ATC Red Sun “Pugilistic Subjects” (T226)
1910 Imperial Tobacco Co (C52)
1912 ATC Honest Long Cut/Miners Extra
          Series of Champions (T227)
1920s Strip Card (W580)
1942 Sam Taub’s Ring Personalities (Matchbook)
1948 Leaf Gum
1951 Topps Ringside
1988 Little Sun Black Sox
1988 Pacific Eight Men Out (Attell/Rothstein)
1991 All World Boxing
1991 Ideal Albums "Boxing Greats"
1992 WR Priddy Antiques "Famous Boxers"

If you have any more to add, or wish to write an article, let me know !

To be confirmed.

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