Sammy Luftspring was born on May 14th, 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 Nazi's 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 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.
5541 photographs, 25 x 20 cm and smaller, and other media
The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto was incorporated in Ontario in March 1917 to coordinate the fundraising activities of Jewish charitable, philanthropic, and social service agencies in Toronto. In 1918, ten separate agencies were funded by the FJPT. By 1937, fourteen agencies were funded. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the development of several newer Jewish aid, education and medical care organizations created both increased need for resources and growing competition for ever-more scarce dollars. Within a very few years this funding crisis forced a major review of the organization.
During 1936 a series of special meetings of leading individuals were held to examine the income and expenditures of all Toronto Jewish agencies and also to speculate about the need for a new Toronto Jewish "Community Chest" as the sole fund-raising organization for a federation of all Jewish agencies including the FJPT. In 1938, the new United Jewish Welfare Fund was formally constituted. Added to the FJPT's previous list of Toronto client agencies in 1938 were: the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Hebrew National Association, the Jewish Immigrant Aid Association, the Mizrachi Society, the Toronto Free Loan Association, the Geverkshaften, and Old Folks Home, and the United Palestine Appeal, raising the total number of agencies to 22.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the UJWF's annual fundraising campaign was combined with the CJC's United Palestine appeal to form a new, combined campaign named the United Jewish Appeal (UJA). In 1967, the UJA name was legally changed to the United Jewish Appeal of Metropolitan Toronto.
In mid-1976, the organization's public name was changed to the Toronto Jewish Congress. Although initially thought of as a merger between the UJWF and the CJC, the actual result was the expansion of the UJWF responsibilities to include local education and welfare services previously shared with the Canadian Jewish Congress, Central Region. The UJWF, however, remained the legal senior entity.
In 1991 the public name was again changed to the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto and in 1999, to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. By this date, over 30 beneficiary and affiliated agencies, 49 affiliated schools and five Federation departments were fully or partly funded by the UJA Federation.
In June, 2010, the organization altered its legal structure, with the senior legal entity becoming the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of 25 series: Annual Meetings, Annual Reports, Board of Directors, Constitution Committee, Executive Committee, Officers Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Administration Committee, Social Planning Committee, Committee on Capital Needs and Planning, Central Committee on Scholarships in Aid, Joint Committee of the BJE and UJWF Study on Jewish Education, Nominations Committee, Pension Fund Committee, Coordinating Committee, Special Ad Hoc and Temporary Committees, Annual Campaign, Client Agencies, Joint Committee of the CJC and the UJWF, Committee on Community Organization, Sub-Committee on Construction and Administration of Community Schools, Joint Committee on Fundraising, Personnel Committee, Community Leadership Development Council, and Israel at Fifty Community Celebration.
Over 4500 photographs and a variety of other media are managed within Series 17, Campaign records.
For exact details about the contents of individual series and sub-series, please review their scope and contents notes.
United Jewish Welfare Fund
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto
United Jewish Appeal
Toronto Jewish Congress
Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
For records of the predecessor of the UJWF, see Fonds 66, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto fonds.
Further detailed documentation of the proposed merger between the UJWF and the CJC (creation of the TJC) may be found in Fonds 67, Sub-sub-series 5-5-1, Files 171 and 221.
Further documentation on the United Jewish Welfare Fund may be found within Fonds 9, Series 7, records of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society.
For further detailed records of a key community leader's involvement with the UJWF see Accession 1982-8-8, the records of Samuel Godfrey, 1943-1972.
This file consists of a program package and photographs taken at the 1990 Sports Celebrity Dinner. The dinner featured a tribute to Irving Ungerman, boxing promoter and manager. It was held at the Constellation Hotel on 5 June 1990 and featured a boxing match and demonstration.
The photographs are of Irving Ungerman, celebrity guests, invited guests and JCC Executive Committee members. Celebrity guests included Jake La Motta, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Claude Brochu, Brian Williams, Pat Marsden, Alan B. Zender, Paul Brownstein, Ron Kanter, Mayor Mel Lastman, Rabbi Dr. David Monson, Donovan Boucher, Alan Eagleson, Glen "Yuk Yuk" Foster, Vicki Keith, Sammy Luftspring, Police Chief William J. McCormack, and Harry Ornest.
Other identified individuals include Eddie Shack, Martin Atkins, Harold Cipin, Al Waxman, Paul Godfrey, Rabbi J. Kelman and Paul Lindzon.
This file consists of photographs taken at the 1994 Sports Celebrity Dinner. The dinner featured a tribute to Steve Stavro, former owener of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors and the grocery chain Knob Hill Farms. The dinner also featured several Jewish Hall of Fame inductees as honoured guests. The dinner was held on 22 June 1994.
The photographs are of the guest of honour and other celebrity guests, the JCC Executive Committee members and Sports Celebrity Committee members, along with the invited guests. Identified individuals include Michael Burgess, Harold Cipin, Darryl Sittler, Steven Wise, Mark Hebscher, Cliff Fletcher, Mike MacDonald, Dave Perlmutter, Allan Wexler, Richard Levinksy, Jules Goldstein, Gary Berman, Irving Ungerman, Ken Daniels, Bob Rae, Sammy Luftspring and Paul Brownstein.