The Jewish Boxers Who Helped FBI Fight the Nazis

Stand for Israel  |  September 23, 2020

Boxers Jimmy Welsh and Benny Leonard
Boxers Jimmy Welsh and Benny Leonard

The avid readers here at Stand for Israel love hearing about new books on Jewish history, particularly those about World War II. That explains our excitement at seeing this article in The Jerusalem Post. Leslie K. Barry’s upcoming historical novel, Newark Minutemen, tells the story of how Jewish boxers in the U.S. worked with the FBI to stop the Nazi scourge from encroaching on American soil:

Leslie K. Barry’s upcoming novel Newark Minutemen, which depicts the unbelievable story of a Jewish boxer who was recruited by the Jewish mob and the FBI to fight Nazis in the US, will be turned into a movie. This was announced just two weeks before the publishing date of the new book.

Barry’s new novel, due out on October 6, may sound like fiction, but it tells the true story of American Jewish boxers in the years leading up to World War II, who played an active role in fighting the rising American Nazi Party. They were known as the Newark Minutemen.

According to the New Jersey local news agency, the story is inspired by Barry’s uncle, Harry, who was a Newark Minutemen boxer himself in the 1930s.

Harry, like others, was recruited by Abner “Longie” Zwillman, who would then send the new recruits to work with the FBI. He was a Jewish mob boss who has been called the Al Capone of New Jersey.

In order to write the story, Barry consulted family members who knew her uncle. But it wasn’t until her mother’s 90th birthday, when Barry’s family started reminiscing, that she began getting to know her uncle’s story…

Newark Minutemen is an epic story of battles, boxers and Mafia, overlaid with an explosive love affair that compares with the classic star-crossed stories from Casablanca to Titanic,” producer Leo Pearlman told Variety. “This would be an important story to tell at any time in history – but right now, with the lessons we can learn from the past, it is an essential one that everyone should see.”

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