San Francisco, CA- The famed Herman-Newman’s boxing gym at 312 Leavenworth St. was located in a neighborhood here known as the Tenderloin. It is an area ripe with cheap hotels, hookers, drag queens, drug dealers and thugs. And yet, in the more than 15 years I made the trek downtown, with the exception of one fighter having had a pound of weed stolen out of his car by another boxer, I can’t recall anybody getting hurt going to or from the boxing shrine.
BILLY NEWMAN’S FAILING HEALTH
In the latter 1970s, Billy Newman, who had bought his partner Herman out, was in failing health. The gym wasn’t making much money, partially because Billy didn’t collect dues diligently. Many youths like myself would end up paying the $10 membership fee maybe once or twice a year. As Newman began to slide health wise, he put one of his employees Henry “Don” Stewart in charge of the oldest standing boxing gym in the United States. Stewart collected dues on a more regular basis, but he wouldn’t know a left hook from a bass hook.
DON’S TOUPEE LIKE HOCKEY HELMET
Don Stewart was a nice guy who slightly deceived people when it came to his abilities as a trainer. We’d watch him bulls*it people coming in for his “white collar” boxing classes. Don, a former employee of the YMCA on Leavenworth & Golden Gate Sts., would tell people he trained the likes of Sonny Liston, George Foreman, neither of which was true. But Stewart had these pictures of him with both men post workout and the easily gullible didn’t realize it was Don, who wore the most hideous wig in boxing, posing for a photo op, so they’d sign up for his class.
LISTON WAS INTIMIDATING TO ME NOT! Read more