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ESPN Televised Boxing at Alumni Arena – 1989

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Ras-I (Livingstone) Bramble and Kenneth Vice in Amherst, NY - 1989.Riddick Bowe and Art Card in Amherst, NY - 1989.On November 28, 1989, over 5,000 boxing fans turned out to watch a five-fight card at the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.

The main battle was a match between Ras-I (Livingstone) Bramble and Kenneth Vice. Bramble beat Vice in the sixth round during the ESPN televised match. Bramble retained his North American Boxing Federation Super Lightweight title.

Bramble was no stranger to Buffalo, NY.  In June of 1984, he scored a dramatic 14th-round knockout of Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini to win the World Boxing Association lightweight championship in front of 14,500 stunned spectators at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.

Also on the Alumni Arena fight card was future two-time world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. Bowe faced Art Card of Cleveland, Ohio in a scheduled six-round bout.  Bowe wore his opponent down and Card’s corner stopped the fight before the start of the fourth round.

Boxing and ESPN returned to Alumni Arena on April 5, 2002 when Western New York’s Joe Mesi defeated 31-year-old New Zealander Keith McKnight in a bout televised on EPSN2′s Friday Night Fights.

Buffalo, NY Introduced to Football in 1889

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Buffalo Courier - November 16, 1889

Buffalo Courier – November 16, 1889

One hundred twenty-five years ago this month, the citizens of Buffalo, NY were introduced to their very first “inter-collegiate” football match. Cornell University played the University of Michigan at Olympic Park located at East Ferry & Michigan Avenue in the city.

Why a Cornell/Michigan game in Buffalo, NY?  The two rival teams were anxious to compete against each other but would only agree to a game if it was played at a neutral site. Buffalo, NY was settled upon as an acceptable location.

The game was organized by the Buffalo Athletic Club with short notice. The citizens of Buffalo knew little of collegiate football. The only variety of football with which Buffalo had known prior to the game was association football.

The Buffalo Express newspaper described college football as “… a rough-and-tumble, free-for-all, go-as-you-please fracas, intermingled with a little collar-and-elbow wrestling and an occasional slugging match mixed in” but it was also described as “highly interesting as well as exciting, and no lover of out-door sports should fail to take in the game.”

Close to 2,000 fans watched Cornell beat Michigan 66-0 on November 16 1889. A Cornell newspaper noted that a large majority of the spectators knew nothing whatever about the game, but were greatly pleased to see the rough and tumble part of it. (see “Wolverines Worsted” The Cornell Daily Sun – 18 November 1889.)

The Buffalo Courier and Buffalo Express newspapers declared the event a success noting that all parties were favorably impressed by their stay in Buffalo, and it was likely that more college football games would be arranged for Buffalo in the future. But the Buffalo News was less than enthusiastic with the game calling it a poor modification of the game played ten years ago and much preferred the game of rugby. (see “Talking About Football” Buffalo News, 17 November 1889.)

But the seed was planted and in 1890 the New York State Intercollegiate Football Association was formed with Union College, University of Rochester, Syracuse University and Hamilton College represented.  By the end of the next decade, the popularity of the game explode in upstate New York as the University of Buffalo, Canisius College, Colgate, St. Bonaventure University, and others, all entered collegiate football to varying degrees.

For more information on football at the University at Buffalo, visit the UB Sports History Collection website.

1889 Michigan Varsity Football Team 1889 Cornell Varsity Football Team


TALKING ABOUT FOOTBALLTALKING ABOUT FOOTBALL

Presumably the mass of the citizens who witnessed yesterday’s contest between the Cornell and Michigan University football teams knew little or nothing about the game.

The “Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell,” and the extended “Rah,’rah,’rah, Mich-i-gan, Mich-i-gan” contingents did understand. It was the first football exhibition under the intercollegiate rules ever given in this city. It was a one-sided game, as the local accounts will show. It is a poor modification – in system – of the game ten years ago, as any old collegian will testify.

There was a time when the game — one of the grandest for the exercise of pluck, running power, muscle and above all endurance — had two marked divisions in system. One of them remains practically unchanged to this day. That is the Association game, which deals with kicking and “dribbling” moving the ball gently so as to prevent another’s turn at it. The use of the hands constitutes a foul. The other system, illustrated so vividly in “Tom Brown at Rugby” was called the Rugby game. It allowed picking up the ball and running with it and had a series of rules not to be summarized within short limits of space. it also allowed “hacking” — shin-kicking would be a plainer description — and tripping. This was properly esteemed brutal and there succeeded Rugby Union rules, which made “hacking,” “scragging” or tripping cause for disqualification of a player on the field. Like the Rugby game, it was played with fifteen men and the “close scrimmage” formation of “forwards” prevailed. Then there came a new development. Instead of all the forward players crushing into a scrimmage there was an “open formation” style which lined the rushers across the point where the ball is declared “live.”

The Rugby Union game is as much * * and as such more affordable opportunity for individual and * * that this ** intercollegiate game is, as cheese is better than chalk for eating purposes. In the broad football field fifteen men are better than eleven, a fight for the ball in a scrimmage is better than a privilege given to the side one whose representatives manages to throw his body over the ball first.

Buffalo News, November 17, 1889

 

Dom Grossi – World War II Hero

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Dom Grossi

Dominic J. Grossi, 1942 season

Dom Grossi was a University at Buffalo football star. He was a stand-out at defensive end and for three years was named to the “All Western New York” college team.

Dom enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1943.  He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in April 1944.

Grossi, UB Star, Killed on Iwo JimaHe participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima and was killed in action on March 8, 1945.

For his heroism, Grossi was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross in 1946.  The Navy Cross is the second-highest military decoration for valor that may be awarded to a member of the U.S. Marine Corps for extraordinary heroism in combat.

In 1947, the Beta Chi Epsilon fraternity at the University at Buffalo established the “Dominic J. Grossi Memorial Trophy” awarded yearly to the outstanding student athlete at U.B. in lasting memory of the fallen star.

In recent years, the award has been given to a U.B. football player who has displayed athletic prowess, academic excellence and sportsmanship.

For more information, visit the UB Sports History Collection website and Veterans and the Armed Forces digital collection.

 

1929 Buffalo Bulls Football

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1929 Buffalo Bulls FootballIn 1929, after five difficult seasons, Russ Carrick stepped down as the head coach of the University at Buffalo football team.

Jay L. (Biffy) Lee was hired as his replacement.  Lee played football at the University of Notre Dame. He also coached the freshman team at Notre Dame in 1916 and had the famous George Gipp on his squad.  Lee was also the college roommate of Knute Rockne. Dr. Lester Knapp, Dr. James Ailinger, William Pritchard, and Stanley Drumsta served as Biffy Lee’s assistant coaches. (see “J. L. “Biffy” Lee Head of Buffalo’s New Coaching Staff” Buffalo Bee, 27 September 1929)

The 1929 season was characterized by the introduction of two complete squads – the Ponies (light-weight and fast) and the Bulls (the heavier squad).  Each squad was carefully trained and coached and each had definite duties to perform. Ed Malanowicz, Earle Ridall and Bob Beyer were some of the star Buffalo players.

After winning only 1 game from 1926-1928, Biffy Lee’s team restored hope winning 5 and losing only 2.  Buffalo’s football renaissance even drew the praise of football legend Knute Rockne, Lee’s former roommate. (see Rockne Congratulates Lee On Success of U.B. TeamBuffalo Courier-Express, 24 October 1929)

For more information on football at the University at Buffalo, visit the UB Sports History Collection website.


Oct-12-1929 The Buffalo defense closes in on an Alfred University running back.


1929 Buffalo Football Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
Sat, 10/5/19291 Upsala College  14 – 7 Buffalo  L East Orange, NJ
Sat, 10/12/19292 Buffalo  20 – 12 Alfred University  W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/19/19293 Buffalo  12 – 9 Clarkson  W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/26/19294 Buffalo  0 – 20 University of Rochester  L Buffalo, NY
Sat, 11/2/19295 Long Island University  0 – 13 Buffalo  W Brooklyn, NY
Sat, 11/9/19296 Buffalo  27 – 12 Hiram College  W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 11/16/19297 Hobart College  7 – 13 Buffalo  W Geneva, NY

FINAL RECORD: 5-2

Home: Rotary Field, Bailey and Winspear Avenues.
Coach: Jay L. “Biffy” Lee


  • 1 – “Heavy Forward Line Too Much for U.B. TeamBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 6 October 1929.
  • 2 – “Cotton, Substitute Back, Leads Bulls to Brilliant Victory in Final QuarterBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 13 October 1929.
  • 3 – “Sensational Rally Enables Bisons to Defeat ClarksonBuffalo Bee Student Newspaper Buffalo, NY, 25 October 1929.
  • 4 – “U. B. Succumbs to Rochester After Stubborn Struggle Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 27 October 1929.
  • 5 – “Malanowicz and Smith in Scoring Mood, After First Half Weakens OppositionBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 3 November 1929.
  • 6 – “U.B., With Inspired Aerial Attack, Wins Final Home GameBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 10 November 1929.
  • 7 – “Malanowicz Stars With Run of 90 Yards to Tie Score, Then Adds Winning Marker“ Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 17 November 1929.

J. L. “Biffy” Lee
Head of Buffalo’s
New Coaching Staff

Bulls’ Hope Rise As New
Coaching Staff Begins
Its Work

Men of Excellent Repute
Coach This Year’s Squad

Last spring, five men pledged their best efforts to the improvement of Buffalo’s football ranking. Already the results are becoming apparent. Every afternoon for the past three weeks these men have been working to train and condition the squad for the rigorous schedule which it faces. These men are Head Coach Jay L. (Biffy) Lee, and associate coaches Knapp, Pritchard, Ailinger and Drumsta.

Biffy Lee is well qualified to step into the position which Russ Carrick felt it necessary to resign. He began to play football in 1900 with Western High School of Bay City, Mich. Four years there and fours years with club teams prepared him to play with Albion College in 1908 and to him was assigned the quarterback position the mythical All-Michigan eleven. 1911 found him calling the signals for Notre Dame. In 1915, he acted as coach at Penn College, Iowa, and returned there in 1917 after spending a year as coach at Notre Dame. The war interrupted for a few years, but Lee returned to the game in 1922 as mentor for Cornell College, Iowa. From the official side of the game as well, Biffy is acquainted with the sport, as he was in great demand during the later years as official for Missouri Valley Conference and Big Ten games.

James J. Ailinger, who started playing with Hutchinson High and was captain of the Bisons in 1923, will devote his time to the center and guards. Stanley Drumstra, pilot of the 1928 team, has been assigned the tackles. Dr. Lester E. Knapp, captain in 1924, will team with William Pritchard in developing the backfield. Pritchard has a substantial record to recommend him, playing with South Park, Penn State, and the New York Yankees. Coach Lee will instruct the ends and generally supervise the entire eleven.

Buffalo Bee Student Newspaper, September 27, 1929


Rockne Congratulates Lee On Success of U.B. TeamRockne Congratulates Lee
On Success of U.B. Team

The attention that is being paid to the upward struggle of the University of Buffalo football team is illustrated by a letter received yesterday by Jay L. (Biffy) Lee, head coach, from his old team mate, Knute Rockne, almost a legendary figure in the gridiron sport.

“Congratulations on the fine way your team has been going,” said Rockne, and praise from the Rock is praise indeed. He went on to “hope that the school gets the $5,000,000 it is conducting the drive for.”

The Notre Dame coach expects to be out on the field again before the game Saturday against Carnegie Tech, one of the most important on the Irish schedule. He recently has been suffering from a long ailment. He will surely be at Pittsburgh for Saturday’s game.

Buffalo Courier-Express, October 24, 1929