Frederick “Blackie” Wolfman, April 16, 1925 - February 21, 2023.
A Fighter’s Spirit...
Born April 16, 1925, Frederick “Blackie” Wolfman’s earliest memories were of the Great Depression, the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized world. Lives were turned upside down and the average person had to fight hard to survive. Blackie was no exception. Growing up in the Bronx, Blackie would say, “The only way you could survive in the Bronx was to box or be in the Mafia." Blackie chose to box.
The oldest of three children born to Russian/Polish immigrants Abraham and Rose Wolfman, Blackie was often left to fend for himself. His father could be quite aggressive towards him and his mother had such a difficult time caring for Blackie and his younger brother in the early 1930s that she had to place both of them on different occasions into the Hebrew Orphanage Asylum. Things seemed to improve for Blackie’s siblings Bernard and Brenda, but Blackie found that the only way he could survive during those traumatic times was to become a boxer. If he was going to eat, he had to win. By the time he was 17, he won the title of the coveted New York Golden Gloves.
In 1943, when Blackie was 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy and participated in the Normandy Invasion and then later served in the Pacific War. After the war, Blackie’s love of the sea and his passion for adventure led him to join the Merchant Marines where he sailed all over the world and learned many languages. He developed a love of Middle Eastern cuisine, in addition to his penchant for Italian and Jewish delicacies. By the 1950s Blackie had planted his roots in Houston, Texas but still travelled worldwide as a seaman where he collected a vast array of items including Egyptian parchments, gold puzzle rings, and carved whale’s teeth.
Blackie also loved to talk about all of the famous prizefighters he knew including Galveston’s Jack Johnson. In addition, anyone who has ever encountered Blackie would know him for his athleticism and passion for dancing Salsa and Argentine Tango. Even in his 80s he could do a handstand and still cut a rug into his early 90s. Always larger than life, Blackie enjoyed talking to everyone, regardless of their conflicting ideas, and often made friends with those who initially should have been an enemy. He could be quite irreverent and loved to include double entendres in his daily conversations. That was Blackie. The last few years became more and more difficult for Blackie to walk. Even though he fought the good fight to the end and never lost his sense of humor, his 97-year-old body faced the final count on February 21, 2023. He will be missed by so many people he has encountered throughout his remarkable life.