Winning the cup, twice

A former boxing champion is reunited with an old friend, and his long-lost trophy.

freedman brown 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
freedman brown 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Avi Freedman, 74, of Tivon was at home one evening last month when the phone rang. "Hello. Is this Henry Freedman's house?" the voice asked in an English accent. "It's Ronnie." "Ronnie? Ronnie Brown from Clapton? We haven't spoken or met for 60 years!" replied the shocked Freedman, who changed his first name after emigrating from London almost half a century ago. Brown told his childhood buddy that he and his wife were due to visit Israel soon, and would love to meet up. Two days later, he called again. "I'm at the Dan Caesarea. Come for breakfast," he cajoled. "What a reunion it was!" an excited Freedman told Metro. "After breakfast, he leaned to one side of his chair and pulled out a plastic bag. It contained a velvet bag, which I opened to reveal a silver cup on a wooden base bearing a plaque inscribed 'Clapton Jewish Youth Centre, Young Johny Brown Boxing Trophy 1947 awarded to club champion Henry Freedman.' The cup was stolen from the club about six months after I won it, and no one's seen or heard of it since. I was overwhelmed." Young Johny Brown was one of the leading Jewish professional boxers of the 1930s, becoming featherweight champion of Great Britain. Ronnie Brown was his son. "Tears were rolling down his face," recounted Freedman, a former agricultural engineer who now runs a shoe shop. "He was so pleased because his father donated it to the club. The whole scene was so emotional - even the waiters crowded around to see the trophy." "How he got it I don't know," Freedman continued. "I don't know why I didn't ask him. I was so excited that I didn't think of it."