It was sad to learn about the recent passing of Secaucus resident and boxing legend Howie Albert.
Albert, a 2007 inductee into the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame, spent nearly 60 years in the boxing game, working with as many as 70 world class fighters.
But Albert gained his claim to fame by being the long-time trainer and manager for six-time world champion Emile Griffith, who also spent most of his life as a resident of Hudson County, living in Weehawken and Jersey City.
Albert got his start in the boxing game by accident. Albert was an amateur boxer in the Bronx as a kid and became a respected middleweight while serving in the United States Air Corps in World War II.
But after the war, Albert was the owner and operator of a hat manufacturing company in Manhattan when he was introduced to a school teacher named Gil Clancy. There was a delivery boy for Albert’s company that Clancy had to see box. His name was Emile Griffith. Albert had read about Clancy in the newspaper and sent Griffith to go see Clancy. The rest is history.
Clancy and Albert managed Griffith throughout his Hall of Fame career, as Griffith became a six-time world champion in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions from 1961 through 1968. Griffith was best known for his fight with Bennie “The Kid” Paret that was televised on national television and led to the death of Paret with the injuries Paret suffered in the ring.
Albert was Griffith’s manager throughout his entire career and traveled to more than 32 countries representing the champ.
The association between Albert and Clancy carried over 30 years, covering more than 60 boxers. In 1962, Albert worked as the corner man for a young heavyweight out of Louisville named Cassius Clay, known better now as Muhammad Ali. Albert worked in the corner with legends Angelo Dundee and Clancy for the future world heavyweight champ and sports icon Ali, the first time the legend ever fought in Madison Square Garden.
Over the course of his career, Albert worked with some of the greats of the game, names like George Foreman, Vito Antuofermo, Mustafa Hamsho, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, James “Buddy” McGirt, Jerry and Mike Quarry, “Razor” Ruddock, Pernell Whittaker and Jersey City’s Joe Gatti, the older brother of Arturo Gatti.
When the famed documentary about Griffith’s life, “Ring of Fire,” was released a few years ago, Albert was in demand for several interviews to tell stories of his association with Griffith. Albert handled every one of those interviews, including two in this newspaper, with ease and affability. He was a wonderful man who will be sorely missed by everyone in the local boxing community…
Curious choice for coach
CREATE Charter is going to institute football for the first time in the fall, and who have they hired to be the first coach there?
None other than Bill Sullivan, who was the coach of the St. Anthony football program, before he had to leave after allegedly using an ineligible player, a kid believed to be an eighth grader.
We made calls to CREATE director Steve Lipski. You had to wonder why Lipski would become so enamored with Sullivan, especially with the way Sullivan’s world came crashing down around him when it was learned the Friars were playing an allegedly illegal player after three victories that ended up being forfeited losses.
Especially since CREATE Charter themselves had to relinquish the HCIAA Seglio Division basketball title it won last February because – guess what? – the Crushers allegedly used an illegible player.
There’s no questioning or doubting Sullivan’s coaching skills. He was masterful in the practice witnessed last September.
But Sullivan has a shady track record and CREATE Charter has dealt with that other athletic problem. This is not a marriage made in heaven.
Lipski said he realizes he’s taking a gamble in hiring Sullivan as the program’s new head coach.
“Was I aware of what happened at St. Anthony? Sure, I read the papers,” Lipski said. “I knew of the situation and sure, it does raise a red flag, especially after what happened to us last year. But I sat with Coach Sullivan on several occasions and realized it was a mutual fit.”
Lipski said that he did not call St. Anthony administration to ask why Sullivan left the school, but he said that Sullivan presented a resignation letter.
“The issues that surrounded Coach Sullivan in the past could not happen at CREATE,” Lipski said. “We have a five-tier check system now when it comes to eligibility. Coach Sullivan has been made aware of that check system when it comes to recruiting and eligibility. Eligibility is the No. 1 issue in the school and we’re dealing with it accordingly.”
Perhaps the biggest shock of the young basketball season has been the horrendous start of the Hoboken High School boys’ team. The Red Wings own a 1-7 record as they begin play in the HCIAA Seglio Division. They’ve already dug themselves a huge hole to get out of if they want to even qualify for the NJSIAA Group I playoffs.
“We have 13 games left [before the cutoff for qualifying] and we have to go 10-3 in those games,” veteran Hoboken coach Buddy Matthews said. “It’s not going to be easy at all. I’ve never been in this position before as a coach. It is frustrating and we’re all searching for answers. The buck is stopping with me as the coach. I have to take the blame for it. But the team is still very upbeat and working on things. We’re trying to figure it all out.”
Matthews said that a year ago, the Red Wings started off 0-5 and rebounded to finish 18-9. But this is worse.
“It doesn’t mean that we can’t get out of it,” Matthews said. “It’s just going to be tough. Without a doubt, we’re up against it a little.”…
Marist girls’ basketball coach Bill DeFazio is a true coaching warrior, coming back to coach his team less than a week after undergoing an emergency angioplasty for a blocked heart valve. It’s hard to determine if the legendary girls’ coach is determined and dedicated or just flat out nuts…
The Union City Soaring Eagles’ basketball teams are both soaring thus far. In their first year of existence, both the boys’ and girls’ teams are currently undefeated at 6-0. If this keeps up, it’s safe to say that a feature article would be brewing…
Congrats to Secaucus’ brilliant athlete Bobby Roesing, who earned the 100th win of his high school wrestling career recently, becoming the first Patriot wrestler to eclipse the milestone. He now has something over his father, Ed, and brother Eddie, both of whom were great Patriot wrestlers in their own right, but never reached the 100-win plateau…
The Hoboken Fire Department and Hoboken Elks Lodge #74 always throw a good Super Bowl party and this year, there’s a worthy cause attached.
On Sunday, Feb. 1, the Lodge will host a party to benefit Fire Captain Mickey Mendez, who is recovering after a recent stroke. The fundraising party will begin at the Lodge at 1 p.m. Admission is $25 and includes a buffet dinner and draft beer. There will be a 50/50 raffle and other prizes to be raffled off, with donations for the raffle still being accepted. For more information, contact Hoboken Fire Captain John Cunning at (201) 420-7842. –Jim Hague