As the world commemorated the end of the Holocaust on January 27 – the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – Mexican news agency Notimex has found an unusual angle for exploring the genocide: the fates of several Jewish boxers killed by the Nazis.
While the article begins by mentioning the Holocaust’s full death toll, it quickly zeroes in on Victor “Young” Perez, a Tunisian Jew who began his boxing career at the local branch of the Maccabi sports club. His athletic prowess eventually brought the flyweight boxer to Paris, from which he was deported to Auschwitz after the German occupation.
As it traces the fate of Perez and several other elite Jewish boxers – including his older brother, Benjamin “Kid” Perez – the article describes his unlikely rise to the world flyweight championship in 1931, when knocked out American champ Frankie Genaro after just two rounds.
The younger Perez, whose fighting weight was 110 pounds, continued competing until 1938, the article says, “proudly” traveling to the German capital that year with suitcases bearing the Star of David. The boxer was fatally shot during a death march in January 1945, the article notes, as he tried to share bread with his fellow prisoners.