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Frankie Goodman; Fight Trainer, Operated Schools for Young Boxers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The article in Boxing Illustrated magazine years ago was headlined optimistically, “Boxing Needs a New Federal Commissioner--Me.”

“Boxing needs a person with the guts, determination and experience to put it back into the American way of life, where it belongs,” the article stated. “I, Frankie Goodman, am that man. I have done more in all phases of boxing than any other man the whole world over.”

He didn’t become a commissioner, but he may have been right about his qualifications.

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Frankie Goodman, intercollegiate lightweight champion, promoter, trainer, manager, referee, television boxing show producer and host, author and owner of gyms and boxing schools for boys in his native Philadelphia and adopted Los Angeles, has died. He was 86.

Goodman, partially sidelined by a stroke in 1988, died Dec. 1 in Alpharetta, Ga., where he had recently lived with his daughter, Judith Bergstrom.

A father of four daughters, Goodman became as well-known for what he did for boys as for the boxing champions--Jerry Quarry, Bobby Chacon, Mando Ramos among others--he trained. Goodman, longtime owner of Goodman’s Gym in Van Nuys, operated Kid Gloves School of Boxing first in Philadelphia and, after moving west in the late 1950s, in Los Angeles.

“A lot of psychiatrists send kids here,” he told The Times in 1971. “I sell a commodity you can’t buy just anywhere. Confidence. . . . I teach these kids how to deal with fear.”

The dapper Goodman, with his white outfits and ubiquitous cigar, clearly loved teaching boxing more than he loved boxing itself. He supported his money-losing schools for boys with odd jobs as recreation director for aerospace companies and, later, his Social Security checks.

Goodman wrote the book “How to Teach a Boy to Box” in 1959 and also a column, “Boxing Biz,” for the old Valley News and Greensheet, taking shots at the boxing hierarchy.

He started the boxing school in Philadelphia and, after serving in the Navy during World War II, developed matches with “pebble-weight” and “peanutweight” classes for the kids he taught.

With the rise of television around 1950, he put the matches on a local station as the “Kid Gloves” show with himself as referee, announcer and between-fight interviewer. The CBS network picked it up and telecast “Kid Gloves” nationally for nine years.

“It was really hilarious--the things those kids would do,” Goodman once told The Times. “Like sometimes a kid would get smacked and he’d turn around and run out of the place. Not just out of the ring, but up the aisle and out of the building. They were so cute.”

Goodman’s love affair with boxing began in the Philadelphia Jewish ghetto called Strawberry Mansion, where he grew up.

“I was a skinny little kid,” he said, “but I was plenty tough. One day this main-event fighter put up a buck to the kid who could lick all the other kids on the block. I won the buck.”

A widower, Goodman is survived by Bergstrom and three other daughters, Carol Goodman and Marsha Bell of San Francisco, and Barbara Goodman of Jacksonville, Fla.; a sister, Esther Dashevsky of Huntington Valley, Pa.; and five grandchildren.


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