According to the late Joe Gramby, the legendary dean of Philadelphia fight managers, Phil Glassman was the greatest boxing manager he ever knew. Glassman, the son of Polish immigrants, made his bones in the first half of the 20th century, most notably handling two of the greatest fighters ever to come out of Philadelphia, lightweight contender Lew Tendler and world featherweight and junior lightweight champion Benny Bass.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Philadelphia had eight daily newspapers and circulation wars raged around the city. Glassman was a newsboy, a rough way to make a living because many papers employed “sluggers” to hawk their sheets at prime locations to run off competitors. Other newsboys had to fight for the right to sell papers on desirable corners, but Glassman did not fight. His influence was so great that no matter how well a kid could scrap, he didn’t sell papers unless Glassman said so. Soon he was named head of the Philadelphia Newsboys Association.
Tendler, five years younger, was enjoying a reputation as one of the toughest newsboys around and he began pushing Glassman to get him a pro fight. Tendler made his pro boxing debut and Glassman made his managerial debut in 1913 at the Broadway Athletic Club, then one of seven fight clubs operating locally. Tendler won by a decision to begin a career which lasted until 1928, covering 171 fights and two challenges for the world lightweight title and one for the welterweight title. According to him, “Phil was the greatest manager in the business. He worked for a fighter at all times. A lot of my success was due to Phil’s handling, and his stable [of fighters] would have brought in a million bucks in today’s [1940s] market.” Bass, who won the featherweight title in1927 and the junior lightweight title in 1929, had 243 fights from 1913 to 1940. Glassman managed Bass during his best days.
One of Glassman’s last promotions was a 1950 middleweight fight between Sugar Ray Robinson and Robert Villemain, of France at Municipal Stadium (later renamed JFK Stadium).