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Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano (Religion, Theology and the Holocaust) [Hardcover]

John Radzilowski , Mike Silver , Alan Scott Haft

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Book Description

15 May 2006 Religion, Theology and the Holocaust
Alan Scott Haft provides the first-hand testimony of his father, Harry Haft, a holocaust victim with a singular story of endurance, desperation, and unrequited love. Harry Haft was a sixteen-year-old Polish Jew when he entered a concentration camp in 1944. Forced to fight other Jews in bare-knuckle bouts for the perverse entertainment of SS officers, Harry quickly learned that his own survival depended on his ability to fight and win. Haft details the inhumanity of the "sport" in which he must perform in brutal contests for the officers. Ultimately escaping the camp, Haft's experience left him an embittered and pugnacious young man. Determined to find freedom, Haft traveled to America and began a career as a professional boxer, quickly finding success using his sharp instincts and fierce confidence. In a historic battle, Haft fights in a match with Rocky Marciano, the future undefeated heavy-weight champion of the world. Haft's boxing career takes him into the world of such boxing legends as Rocky Graziano, Roland La Starza, and Artie Levine, and he reveals new details about the rampant corruption at all levels of the sport. In sharp contrast to Elie Wiesel's scholarly, pious protagonist in "Night", Harry Haft is an embattled survivor, challenging the reader's capacity to understand suffering and find compassion for an antihero whose will to survive threatens his own humanity. Haft's account, at once dispassionate and deeply absorbing, is an extraordinary story and an invaluable contribution to Holocaust literature.

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"The riveting and tragic story of Harry Haft should be, indeed, must be told, for Holocaust narratives have the mandate to provide a lesson for generations to come. I might go even so far as to state that the Harry Haft story is what Hollywood movies are made of." - George Eisen, author of Ethnicity and Sport in North American History and Culture"

About the Author

Alan Scott Haft is the eldest son of Harry Haft. He graduated from Queens College and received his J.D. from University of Miami Law School in 1978. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife, Gail, and two daughters, Hartley and Jamie.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Holocaust Memoir 14 Nov 2006
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
This is an impressive addition to holocaust literature. The life of Harry Haft is well worth telling. When he entered Auschwitz he was forced to fight other Jews in bare-knuckle boxing bouts for the entertainment of the SS officers. These battles were usually fought to the death of one of the fighters.

This is quite a different story than that usually told. He survived, and eventually escaped, likewise not a common occurance. He eventually made his way to America and decided to take his boxing skills into the professional arena here. In boxing at that time, the fighters were under the control of organized crime and he was eventually told to lose a match or he would lose his life.

All of this left permanent mental scars on Mr. Haft that were never truly removed. This book is also a story of the life of his son, the author who in writing this probably understands his father better than he did before.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 7 Oct 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Harry Haft: Survivor Of Auschwitz, Challenger Of Rocky Marciano is the unique biography of a Jewish man who survived the Nazi concentration camps while being forced by brutal German officers to fight his fellow prisoners -- to lose was to die. Haft was only sixteen when he was sent to the concentration camps; four years later, he barely escaped with his life, and killed German civilians while struggling to survive. Prone to fits of violent temper, made worse by the permanent scars of the unspeakably inhuman treatment he endured, Harry Haft decided to take his talent for fisticuffs into the professional boxing ring. But in an era when boxing was heavily infiltrated by organized crime, gangsters threatened Haft with execution unless he lost his fight with heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Written by Harry Haft's son, Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano gives a complete picture of a flawed yet courageous human being, a survivor beyond measure, and is highly recommended for biography and holocaust studies shelves.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No way he took a dive against Marciano 19 May 2007
By B. R. Bearden - Published on Amazon.com
The premise that this guy was so formidable that his life was threatened if he didn't take a dive against future champion Rocky Marciano is ludicrous. First, Marciano was an unknown who had only had 17 fights at the time, fighting out of New England, hardly the Mecca of the boxing world of the 1940-50 era. At the time of the fight you could have got odds of 500-1 that Marciano would never be heavyweight champion. Why would the mafia or anyone else threaten someone with death to lose to him?

Also, Haft had lost 6 of his last 7 fights when he met Marciano. In fact he lost to Roland LaStarza just before the Marciano bout. Does his son want to claim he took a dive against LaStarza also? After all, Roland was 32-0 at the time, a much more likely prospect for heavyweight champion than Marciano. And he was also Italian and fighting out of New York.

Three fights before he fought Marciano Haft lost to a guy who was 20-38-8! Come on, why in the wildest flight of fantasy would organized crime think they needed to threaten someone who was on a rapid downhill slide unless he lost to an unranked fighter who had only had 17 fights?

And why would it be to Marciano, the unknown from the little town of Brockton rather than the relatively well known Roland LaStarza of New York, who really was on the fast track to the heavyweight title shot?

Haft finished with a record of 13-7-0 with 7 KO's, losing 7 of his last 8 fights, with Marciano being the final loss. He was knocked out in 5 of those 7 losses, all in a span of six months. It is likely his license was suspended after the Marciano fight to protect him.

It's a fabrication to sell a book. If LaStarza had been champion instead or Marciano, it would probably claim he took the dive against Roland instead.
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