By Ken Hissner & Dave Ruff
On January 19th, 2018 a good friend of ours passed away. His name was Dr. Brian Raditz. He wore many hats. First of all he was a psychologist. He also worked for the Pennsylvania Mental Health Association. In his spare time he had a great love for Boxing.
Raditz used to go down to the Front Street Gym on Clearfield Street and Frankford Avenue. The owner of the gym was Frank Kubach, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame in 2017. He let Raditz use his gym to spar and work out. He sparred with the likes of the now late Tony "Punching Postman" Thornton, a then middleweight contender for the title, among others.
Raditz was a good friend of the legendary Don Elbaum, promoter, matchmaker and boxer who put Raditz into his two professional fights. The first was at the Holiday Inn, Rockville Plaza, in Rockville, MD, on October 30th, 1990. His opponent was Russell Woodson from Virginia Beach, VA, who was also making his debut. He knocked out Woodson in the 3rd round of a scheduled 4 round bout.
Dave met Dr. Raditz on his second professional bout at the National Guard Armory in Northeast, Philadelphia. His second opponent was Jeff Schmude, 0-3, from Erie, PA, on September 20th, 1991. He knocked out Schmude in the first round of a scheduled 4 round bout putting him into retirement.
Dave read some stories on Raditz who was to fight actor Mickey Rourke who was 1-0 at the time. I was fascinated by him wanting to fight Rourke. It got some publicity on it, but I think Rourke was making the movie "Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man". That is possibly why the fight never materialized.
Our friendship really took off then. Dave and Ken visited Raditz at the St. Joseph University grounds. He had his Psychology practice at his residence. The room that he showed us was full of boxing memorabilia. He gave Dave a picture of his first professional bout. Ken asked him about his association with former professional boxer Tony Ayala, Jr., who was then an inmate at the time. At the time Raditz was head of Psychology at the Trenton State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey.
Raditz told Dave that he was attempting to get a movie on Ayala's life. Years later Ken saw Ayala at the church Ken regularly attended Calvary Chapel on Philmont and Bustleton Avenues in Northeast Philadelphia. He approached a person who looked like Ayala after the service and asked him "did anyone ever say you look like the boxer Tony Ayala, Jr.? He didn't reply at first. Then Ken asked Ayala where he was from and he replied "San Antonio, TX". Ken then said "well, then you are Tony Ayala, Jr." He replied "yes I am but I just didn't want to be recognized at this time." He told Ken "tomorrow night I will be at the Front Street Gym trying to get my weight down to 175. When Ken went to the gym the next night he was told "it’s not open to the public".
Raditz was signed as a free agent in 1975 by the Washington Redskins under head coach George Allen. The Redskins’ defensive coach hooked him up with a World Football League contract with the Philadelphia Bell. During the preseason, he was in a car accident and dislocated his hip. End of football. In 1976 he was offered simultaneously a new chance with the Redskins and an internship through the New Jersey human services department. He turned down the football option and went with the internship. His first placement was the state prison in Trenton. “We had a saying in the prison. The strong take from the weak and the smart take from the strong,” said Raditz.
Sad to say our friend Dr. Brian Raditz has left us. Some of the boxing people who knew him well supplied their comments:
Joey Eye, Philly’s Top Cut-Man: The doc was a great guy. I met Dr. Brian at the Front Street Gym around 1990 when I was training there as an amateur fighter at that time. He took a real liking to me and we became friendly from there on. He was a very giving and understanding man. I was approached recently to help in the making the movie that the doc was trying to have made about Tony Ayala, Jr. He was very passionate about it getting made and put up on the big screen. Hopefully that could still happen! RIP Dr. Brian Raditz.
Damon Feldman promoter and former boxer: We knew each other being in boxing and he was always in the public eye. He came to our Celebrity Boxing events. He talked about making a movie on Tony Ayala, Jr. We had a script writer helping with the movie. He was one of the realist and greatest guys ever in my life. He helped so many people out and was just a wonderful person. He was on his way to get an appointment in February at a clinical trial in CA.
Don Elbaum: Class act! I always enjoyed half a dozen times going to his house for Thanksgiving. He was a real fight fan. He trained at the Front Street Gym where I met him and put him in his two fights both by knockout. He could really punch. In his second fight I told him if you can’t beat a guy named Jeff Schmude forget it. I also put his son Blake in his one and only fight at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills.
Jeff Jowet boxing writer Seconds Out: I thought he was a health nut and always looked in great shape. I saw both his pro fights on Elbaum cards. They were legit. He fought a guy from down in Virginia who was a decent trial horse, didn’t win many but he was not a stiff. Went four rounds of decent action. Then he fought a guy named Jeff Schmude who was one of those dangerous guys who can’t really fight but doesn’t know it. One round KO wins tend to look suspect, but not this one. It was furious trading every punch a home run! Schmude rocked Brian, but didn’t know it. Brian fought his way out of it and knocked Schmude out. But I guess that convinced him not to continue his pro career. Still he stayed committed to boxing and often turned up at shows. A sad loss.
Contender and world boxing challenger Bobby Gunn: Dr. Brian was a friend of mine and a total gentleman. He always took the time to give me a phone call to ask me how things were going. He was concerned about his friends and he was concerned about fighters. He always asked if he could do anything for me if I needed his help. He was a gentleman. I spoke to him many times on the phone and we had long discussions. I am heartbroken to hear the passing of Dr. Brian. He was a great person and one tough son of a gun. He fought a battle to the bitter end. God bless him. Rest in peace Dr. Brian.