Sammy Luftspring was born on May 14, 1916 in "The Ward" in Toronto. His parents were working-class Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe. Sammy began training as a youth at the Brunswick YMHA. He lived in Kensington Market and attended B'nai Brith summer camp as a youngster. In 1932 he started entering boxing matches. He competed in 105 fights and only lost five bouts, capturing the Golden Glove tournaments in the weight classes ranging from bantamweight to welterweight. Sammy became famous for his fighting prowess as well as his Jewish pride, always sporting a Star of David on his boxing shorts.
By 1933, he became the Ontario lightweight champion, representing the Elm Grove boxing club. That same year, he took part in the Christie Pits riot. Because of his accomplishments in the ring and his contribution to his community, he became a highly respected athlete within the Jewish community.
In 1936, he was selected for the Canadian team to take part in the Berlin Olympics that year. Although he was eager to compete, his parents and the community pressured him to boycott the games in protest over the Nazis' treatment of Jews in Germany. Luftspring and "Baby Yak," another famous local Jewish boxer, decided to participate instead in the alternate games in Barcelona, Spain, called the People's Olympics. After making the trip to Europe by ship, the two faced the disappointment of having the event cancelled after the Spanish Civil War broke out on the eve of the opening ceremonies.
After his return to Toronto, Luftspring began to box professionally. In 1938, he won the Canadian welterweight championship after a 15-round fight where he defeated Frank Genovese. He held the title for two years. During a fight in New York against Steve Belloise, Luftspring was poked in the eye, resulting in a detached retina. This injury left him blind in one eye, ending his boxing career.
By 1948, he began a new career as a boxing referee. He refereed for several decades, overseeing some of the most celebrated fights of that time. He also ran a nightclub in Toronto called the Mercury Club with three partners. It attracted famous entertainers such as Henry Youngman, Vic Damone, and Tony Bennett. He subsequently ran other nightclubs such as the Tropicana.
In addition to his boxing career, Sammy was also a devoted family man. He married his wife Elsie in 1938 at the McCaul Street synagogue. Three hundred and fifty people attended and hundreds waited outside of the synagogue to wish them well. They had two children: Brian and Orian.
His biography, Call Me Sammy, was published in 1975. Luftspring was given the great honour in 1985 of being inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He passed away on September 27, 2000.
The scrapbooks were created by Sammy Luftspring. He kept them at his house and when he passed away they were safegaurded by his son Brian.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of two scrapbooks that reflect Sammy Luftspring's personal life and various careers as a boxer, referee, author, and nightclub manager and owner. Scrapbooks contain correspondence, ephemera, newspaper clippings, brochures, autographs, coins, and approximately 700 photographs.
Personal records include photographs of Sammy and his family during his childhood, family weddings, trips and vacations, and other family events, such as birthday parties and his son's bar mitzvah. There are also letters and cards from Sammy's wife, children, grandchildren and friends, and other ephemeral items Sammy collected, such as ticket stubs from baseball games.
Professional records include images of Sammy training for upcoming boxing matches, portraits of Sammy posing in his boxing attire, images from the grand opening of the Mercury Club, photographs of Sammy as a referee, as well as photographs of Sammy at various celebrity boxing matches. There is also correspondence and a brochure documenting Sammy's incorporation into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and some correspondence regarding the publication and promotion of his book. Finally, there are numerous newspaper clippings relating to all of Sammy's professional endeavours.
Luftspring, Sammy, 1916-2000
The scrapbooks are in poor condition. Many of the photographs, documents and clippings were glued to the pages and the pages have almost all fallen out of the bindings.
The scrapbooks have been kept intact and no arrangement has been done. However, some of the key images have been scanned and item level descriptions have been completed for them.
Dr. Isadore M. Cass (1916-1996), a well-known pathologist and practicing mohel--Jewish ritual circumcisor--for the Toronto Jewish community, was born and educated in Toronto, attending the University of Toronto's medical school. After serving with the army during the Second World War, Dr. Cass returned to Toronto to private practice. He began studying pathology in 1953, and performed research at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Connaught Labs and the Ontario Department of Health throughout his career. He was chief of pathology at Ajax and Pickering hospitals for twenty-three years, until his retirement in 1986.
In 1945, Dr. Cass began doing ritual circumcisions and was the first medical doctor in Toronto to do so. He performed over 40,000 circumcisions throughout Canada and the eastern United States and trained many physicians to perform them as well.
Dr. Cass was a member of the following organizations: New York Academy of Sciences; the Academy of Medicine, Toronto; the Israel Medical Association; General Wingate Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; and many other associations and societies.
Dr. Cass studied Torah under Rabbi Jacob Gordon and was a Torah reader at Goel Tzedec Synagogue and later, Beth Tzedec. He also studied and taught Torah throughout his life, chairing the Canadian Jewish Congress' Tanach study group for many years, and leading weekly Gemara classes at Beth Tzedec. He belonged to Shaarei Shomayim and Beth Lida synagogues, as well as Lubavitch. In 1987, Dr. and Mrs. Cass were honoured as "Couple of the Year" by Machanaim, The Network of Educational Institutions in Kiryat Gat, Israel, for their great contributions to this charity over the years.
Dr. Cass was married to Miriam Cass and they had four daughters: Sharon, Hylah, Judy, and Elaine. He had four brothers: the late Rabbi Samuel Cass, Harry, Al, and Elie (who was a Reform mohel), and two sisters: Miriam Cass and Zelda Fink. He also had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Dr. Cass died on January 24, 1996 of cancer.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of records relating to the personal and professional life of Dr. Isadore Cass. These records include appointment books documenting circumcisions he performed, correspondence, writings, Tanach study group notes, a Machanaim invitation and programme, prayer books, certificates, memorial cards, and photographs.
Cass, Isadore M., 1916-1996
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
The prayer book is in poor condition and some of the early daytimers are in fair condition.
See also the Ontario Jewish Archives' reference news clipping file under "Cass, Dr. Isadore".
Accession consists of materials assembled by Stanley Emerson and donated to the Ontario Jewish Archives. Included are: one hardbound book commemorating the Toronto Hebrew Free School's liquidation of its capital debt on May 8, 1947; one spiral-bound book assembled on the occassion of Shomrai Shaboth Congregation's twentieth anniversary testimonial dinner honouring Rabbi Gedalia Felder to be held on Sunday, June 18, 1972; one Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto programme for its annual dinner to be held on Thursday, June 22, 1978; one programme for a Machanaim Testimonial Dinner honouring Dr. Isadore Cass on Wednesday, May 2, 1979; one Associated Hebrew Schools graduation programme for Wednesday, June 27, 1979; one newspaper clipping from the Thursday, June 6, 1985 edition of the Canadian Jewish News relating to Rabbi Gedalia Felder, former spiritual leader of Shomrai Shaboth-Chevra Mishnayoth Congregation; one newspaper clipping from the Thursday, June 13, 1985 edition of the Canadian Jewish News relating to Harold Dessen, former president of Associated Hebrew Schools; and one paperbound book assembled on the occassion of a Sol Edell tribute dinner commoemorating the fiftieth yahrzeit (death anniversary) of HaRav Yosef Weinreb and the establishment of the Saol Edell Family Endowment Fund to be held on Saturday, October 31, 1992.
This file consists of photographs taken at the 1988 Sports Celebrity Dinner, honouring Pat Gillick, General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. The event was held at the Constellation Hotel. The photographs depict the guests and JCC Executive Committee members.
Identified individuals include Bernard Kaimin, Eddie Shack, David Perlmutter, Sammy Luftspring, Kelly Gruber, Paul Brownstein and Alan B. Zender.