Prominent Seattle boxing promoter Nate Druxman (1892-1969) was born in
Seattle to Ukrainian Jewish parents, owners of a furniture store at Second
Avenue South and Yesler Way. Druxman attended Seattle Public Schools, first the
old South School, and then the Pacific School, where he met his future wife,
Jessie Simmons. They were married in 1914 and had four sons, Robert, E.J.
("Bud"), Calvin and Edward.
Druxman played semi-pro baseball and did some lightweight boxing as a
young man. His boss at the Schwabacher Brothers and Company store, however, was
not impressed with Druxman's boxing career and, needing the job, young Druxman
quit boxing to work fulltime selling cigars. Druxman worked for Schwabacher
Brothers from around 1910 until 1929.
Though he had quit fighting, in 1914 Druxman began promoting boxing
shows at Seattle's Elks Club at Fourth Avenue and Spring Street, one of several
local venues for private club boxing. Though professional boxing was illegal in
Washington State at the time, an exception in the 1909 legislation "Provided
that nothing in this section shall be so construed as to interfere with members
of private club sparring or fencing for exercise among themselves."
Accordingly, most fights took place in American Legion posts, Elks, Knights of
Columbus, Moose Lodges and other clubs for "members." Other Seattle boxing
venues at the time included the Northwest Athletic Club and the National
By 1925, Nate had opened his own club, the Druxman Athletic Club, at
the Crystal Pool on Second Avenue; he also promoted fights at the Civic Ice
Arena, Dugdale Park, and the National Athletic Club during this period. Among
the fighters who fought or refereed for Druxman were Freddie Steele, Tod
Morgan, Al Hostak, Gorilla Jones, Ted Krache, Dode Bercot, Travie Davis, Henry
Woods, Max Baer, Doc Snell, and Cecil Payne. After boxing was legalized in
Washington in 1933, Druxman was able to promote world title fights in
Seattle--11 of them between 1933 and 1940, including the middleweight title
bout between Freddie Steele and Al Hostak in 1938. Though Druxman also operated
a real estate business, he continued to promote boxing until 1942, when he went
to work for the special services section at the Port of Embarkation during the
Nate Druxman died on November 20, 1969.
The collection consists largely of photographs of local Seattle boxers
and boxing events associated with Seattle boxing promoter Nate Druxman; also
includes images depicting other boxing promoters and other individuals . The
bulk of the photographs documents the career of boxer Freddie "the Tacoma
Assassin" Steele from circa 1930-1938, including images of Steele's fights with
Frank Battaglia in 1937 and Al Hostak in 1938. The collection also includes
several images of Jack Dempsey, in Seattle for an exhibition bout in 1931, and
to referee a bout promoted by Druxman in 1937. Other boxers depicted include
Dode Bercot, Maxie Rosenbloom, Ken Overlin and Barney Ross, among others.
Ephemera consist largely of programs and ticket envelopes for Seattle
boxing matches promoted by the Druxman Athletic Club, circa 1936-1942. The
series also includes a pamphlet about the career of Jack Dempsey to 1931, and a
ticket to the Freddie Steele vs. Al Hostak match (refereed by Jack Dempsey) at
the Civic Stadium on July 26, 1938, one of Seattle's first major sporting
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
The collection is open to the public by appointment.
Restrictions on Use :
The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in
the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research,
publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI
before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to
all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may
require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.
Preferred Citation :
Nate Druxman Seattle Boxing Photographs and Ephemera, Museum of
History & Industry, Seattle
Arranged into two series:
Boxing promoters and others
Seattle boxing programs
Acquisition Information :
Gift of Ed Druxman (Nate Druxman's son), December 12, 1982.
Processing Note :
Collection was arranged and numbered into broad groupings on
accessioning. During current processing, the collection was rearranged and
renumbered to create series based on subject, and/or chronology.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in
Boxing champion Freddie Steele (born Frederick Earle Burgett),
was born in Seattle in 1912, moving to Tacoma (he was later dubbed "the Tacoma
Assassin") in 1927. Steele played baseball and basketball in intermediate
school before becoming enamored of local Seattle boxer Tod Morgan and trying
his hand at boxing at 13 years old. Steele won his first amateur bout in 1926,
and did not lose a bout until his 47th fight, to Tony Portillo in December 30,
1930. Steele won the Pacific Northwest Welterweight Title in January 1933 and
his first world title in 1936, defeating Babe Risko for the World Middleweight
title. With the exception of a loss to Tommy Herman in 1932, Steele went on to
win every one of his bouts until Freddie Apostoli defeated him in January 1938.
The broken breastbone he suffered in the Apostoli bout, in addition to earlier
fight injuries and the effects of a serious traffic accident, essentially ended
his career. In pain and unable to lift his gloves to defend against the
knockout blow, Steele lost the National Boxing Association World middleweight
title fight in the first round to Al Hostak in July 1938. Attempting a
comeback, Steele lost his next and last fight three years later to Jimmy Casino
in 1941. Steele also suffered, professionally and personally, from the
loss of his manager, Dave Miller. Miller noticed Steele when Steele began
boxing at Miller's gym as a young teen; he soon became Steele's manager as well
a surrogate father figure. When Miller died suddenly in 1937, his brother Eddie
took over management of Steele's career, and according to accounts, failed to
pay Steele his ring earnings. In addition to Steele's injuries, Miller's death
contributed to the decline of Steele's boxing career. Freddie Steele also had a career in the film industry between
1941 and 1948, as a fight double, in several uncredited roles, and in more
significant roles in a few films, including the 1944
The Story of G.I Joe. After over a decade in
California, Steele returned to Washington, opening a restaurant with his wife,
Helen, in Westport, which he ran for over 20 years until poor health forced his
retirement. Steele died in an Aberdeen nursing home in 1984. Freddie Steele is a member of both the International Boxing Hall
of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Steele's boxing record stands at 125
wins (with 60 knockouts), 5 losses and 11 draws.
National Studios, New
3 standard size postcards by Smith showing Freddie Steele with
the caption "Pacific Coast Welterweight Champion, Under Management of Dave
Miller"; 3 larger cards by National Studios showing Freddie Steele and Dave
Miller, with caption "World's Middleweight Champion" and "Lincolnshire Hotel.
Freddie Steele in the
7: Freddie Steele outside
training ring, with Dave Miller lacing his gloves
8-9: Freddie Steele training in
ring with another boxer
10-11: Freddie Steele in ring
wearing training gear talking to trainer Jack Connors
12-14: Freddie Steele posing in
15: Trainer Jack Connors wiping
Freddie Steele with towel
16: Freddie Steele sitting with
manager Dave Miller and trainer Jack Connors
17: Freddie Steele seated in
corner of ring, with Jack Townsend, Dave Miller and announcer Charlie
This photograph is identified as depicting a fight between
Steele and Joe Townsend at the Civic Arena in Seattle.
1931 May 13
18: Freddie Steele in corner of
ring with Dave Miller and Jack Connors
19: Freddie Steele in corner of
ring with Dave Miller
20-21: Freddie Steele, his oppponent
and referee during unidentified fight
22: Freddie Steele and Dave
Miller after fight
23: Freddie Steele and Al Hostak
before their match, with referee Jack Dempsey
This is almost certainly a photograph from the 1938 bout in
which Al Hostak knocked out reigning champion Freddie Steele, winning the World
probably 1938 July 26
24: Freddie Steele after a
25-27: Triptych showing Steele
during fight, probably with Frank Battaglia
28: Fight between Freddie Steele
and Frank Battaglia, showing Battaglia knocked out, and referee Tommy
Newsreel, Seattle Bureau (photographer)
29-30: View of ring and crowd at
Civic Stadium for Freddie Steele and Al Hostak fight
This photograph depicts the crowd and boxing ring at the
Seattle Civic Arena. The occasion was a boxing match between Freddie Steele and
Al Hostak on July 26, 1938, the biggest bout in Seattle’s boxing history, with
over 35,000 in attendance and the middle weight title at stake. In a match
refereed by Jack Demspsey, Al Hostak knocked out reigning champion Freddie
Steele in the first round, winning the World Middleweight title.
1938 July 26
Freddie Steele in street
31: Freddie Steele
32: Freddie Steele with golf
33: Studio portrait
New York (photographer)
34: Portrait of Steele reading
Photo, San Francisco (photographer)
35: Steele with Northwest
Welterweight championship belt
36: Freddie Steele with his
grandfather John W. Steele
Caption on verso: "John W. Steele, grandfather of Freddie
Steele, came all the way from Ketchikan, Alaska, to see Freddie fight Gorilla
Jones. Here is grandpa Steele presenting Freddie with a chain of Alaska gold
37: Dave Miller, Freddie Steele
and ship officer on deck on ship
38: Steele and another man
39: Freddie Steele, Dave Miller,
Bud Zeller, "Midget" Wolgast, and "Suey" Welch with Mae West
40: Steele and boxer Ralph
DeJohn, Rochester, New York
41-42: Freddie Steele with six young
43-44: Steele in boxing
46: Steele at water
47: Steele running
48: Steele with horse
Photographs by J.R.
The Freddie Steele photographs include a large percentage of
images by photographer J.R. Eyerman of Tacoma; these have been filed together
though subject matter spans that of the other series.
49-52: Posed photographs of Freddie
Steele with (probably) Eddie Miller and Jack Connors
Eddie Miller was Dave Miller's brother, and became Steele's
manager after Dave Miller's sudden death in 1937.
53-54: Freddie Steele with
55: Freddie Steele with Bill
Connor, Nelson Hong, Elliot Metcalf, Neil Edris and manager Dave
56: Steele in boxing stance
posing for sculptor near training ring
57: Steele and Walter "Popeye"
Woods shaking hands near training ring
58: Steele working with Davey
Steele trained with and coached Davey Ward.
59: Man examining Steele's right
60: Steele and Dave Miller in
corner of ring
2 copies. One copy inscribed; "To Nate Druxman, the premier
promoter of the west. Best wishes always from Freddie Steels and Dave
61: Steele dining
62-70: Freddie Steele
Images depict Steele swimming, rowing, sawing, in bed,
showering, showing his height and reach and other poses.
71-72: Men, including Freddie Steele
and Dave Miller, in banquet hall at Winthrop Hotel, Tacoma
Caption on photos: "Steele-Gibbons-Shanklin Civic Banquet,
Winthrop Hotel, Tacoma"
1935 September 25
Includes 5 photographs of Steele posing in boxing gear alone
or with unidentified individuals; 1 image of Steele, Dave Miller and 3 other
boxes identified as Lenhart, Fraser and Britt. Also includes a 1936 photograph
of the Civic Stadium captioned on verso: "where Nate staged Freddie Steele-Babe
Risko out-door Worlds 15 round middleweight championship. Steele won decision
July 11, 1936." Folder also includes an embossing plate showing Freddie Steele
in fighting pose.
81: Dode Bercot
82: Dode Bercot and Abie Israel on
fishing boat in Holmes Harbor
1932 March 18
83-84: Swede Berglund in boxing
85: Jimmy Braddock waving from door
Caption on verso: "Heavyweight champ arriving at Seattle to
referee fight in 1939."
86: Dave Miller and Jimmie
Inscribed to Joe Waterman.
1931 May 20
87: Bobbie Harper
Inscription on photo: "To my pal Nate Druxman From Bobbie
Harper, Lightweight Champion of Pacific Coast."
1920 October 6
88: Ken Overlin in training gear in
ring with Jack Dempsey, in suit, outside ring
89-90: Maxie Rosenbloom
91: Barney Ross with Druxman's son
The photo was probably taken when Barney Ross was in Seattle
for an April 9, 1935 bout, sponsored by Druxman, at the Civic Auditorium. Ross
defended the Junior Welterweight Title against challenger Henry Woods, winning
by decision after 12 rounds.
Caption on verso: "Cal Druxman with Junior Welterweight Barney
Ross--World's Champ. Nate Druxman was promoter. Photo taken at 2158 E. Shelby
in 1930s." Photo inscribed on front: "To my little pal Call. My Best
Wishes, Barney Ross."
92: Boxers Dode Bercot and Bobby
Harper shaking hands in ring, with four other men
Four men identified in photo as (left to right) Bert Forbes,
Belkin, Jimmy Burke and L. Austin.
93: Arthur "Pinky"
Nate Druxman promoted Dempsey.
94: Jack Dempsey with Nate
Druxman's four sons
Dempsey fought over 100 exhibition bouts in 1931 and 1932
and was signed by Druxman for a tour of the Northwest. This photo was probably
taken when Dempsey was in Seattle for his exhibition bouts at the Civic Arena
in August 1931.
95: Jack Dempsey with Nate
Druxman's son Ed on his shoulders
96: Jack Dempsey being examined
by Dr. J.S. Thomas
Inscribed to Thomas by Dempsey. Caption on verso: "Dempsey here for exhibition bout. Dr.
Thomas often physician for fighters."
1931 August 26
97: Jack Dempsey with horse and
Inscription on photo: "Jack Dempsey at Long Acres." Inscription on verso: "Came to referee fight in 1937."
98: Jack Dempsey at
Inscribed to Ed Druxman by Dempsey
1945 June 4
99: Civic Arena showing ring and
crowd at Jack Dempsey exhibition bout
1931 August 26
Boxing promoters and
All of the photos are inscribed to Druxman on the front of the
100: Dan Salt
1923 May 2
101: Lonnie Austin
1922 June 23
102: Michael S. Jacobs
Jacobs was a fight promoter from New York
1940 May 24
103: Lloyd Tanner
Manager of the Civic Ice Arena and other civic buildings
104: Nate Druxman and other men at
picnic table, Sunnydale, Washington
Identifications on verso: Bill Moran, Vic Zednick, Pete
Daverso, Royal Brougham, Nate Druxman, Fred Rivers, Pete Rosai, Alex Schultz,
George Rosai, Dick Sharp, Bill Hobson, Dutch Ruether, May, Bill Klepper, Lefty
O'Doul, Ken Binns.
105: Captain Henry H. Bonsall,
Note on verso: "Seattle POE Officer in war."
106: Family group with 14
Rex Photo Finishers,
Caption on verso: "McClaren?? Victoria fighter and his
107: Crystal Pool swim coach Ray
Daughters with starting gun and young Ed Druxman poised to dive into
108: Group of men on
109: Nate and Jessie Druxman and
others in front of Civic Ice Arena
Identifications on verso. Left to right: Hugh Caldwell, Jessie
Druxman, Mrs. Calder, Frank Calder, Mrs. Caldwell, Nate Druxman