Excerpt from Max Baer & the Star of David on JewishFiction.net

Max arrived at the YMCA on Monday afternoon, August 24, 1959, accompanied by a young actress, Ilana Roza Bator, who had long flaming red hair, and wore a backless green silk dress. I had been Max’s sparring partner, corner man, handler, and Man Friday all through his glory years—when he was an up and coming boxer, when he was heavyweight champion of the world and, following on his defeat by Jim Braddock, when his boxing career had been in decline even as his star as an actor and entertainer, in movies and vaudeville, had risen. I also worked part-time as coach of the Golden Gloves boxing team at the Embarcadero YMCA in San Francisco and, a treat for my boys and the YMCA community, I had persuaded Max to visit us and stage a few exhibition rounds.

We had set up a boxing ring in the main gymnasium, and Max glad-handed the people assembled there—my boxers, the director of the YMCA, the staff, board members, and major donors and sponsors—and he introduced us all to Ilana, told us she was from Budapest, had arrived in Hollywood three months before, would be starring in a Warner Brothers spectacle about David and Bathsheba, and that while she prepared for the part, he was helping her learn how to cope with producers, directors, and assorted other West Coast predators. Fishermen too, he added, to laughter, which was why he was showing her San Francisco.

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