The final bell tolled for Bernie Friedkin on Thursday, January 18th. Dubbed the Schoolboy because of his good manners, gentle disposition and studious ways, Friedkin the prizefighter was a true enigma, a puzzle whose pieces didn’t seem as though they could possibly fit—but they did as his stellar ring record attests. Growing up in the same Brownsville neighborhood as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Al “Bummy” Davis and Shannon Briggs, Bernie Friedkin marched to a different tune.
His toughness was reserved for his ring battles. Bernie Friedkin was a student of the sport’s history. The basement walls of his family home were decorated with photos of the great fighters of that era and desiring to emulate them he built a makeshift ring in his basement where he would invite friends over after school to spar with him. He was a master technician who lost only eleven times in seventy-five fights. Probably, his greatest fight was to hold the legendary Kid Chocolate to a draw in 1937 at the Broadway Arena. Ironically, the fight for which he is best remembered was his “war” against neighborhood rival, Al “Bummy” Davis. It was a heroic effort by Bernie, who was stopped in a see-saw battle but won the respect of the entire sports world.
I considered Bernie a dear friend. He was most helpful in my research for the BUMMY DAVIS VS MURDER, INC book and that schoolboy charm always stayed with him. If I would have been at the Davis-Friedkin fight, as much as I am devoted to Al “Bummy” Davis, I know that I could not have rooted against Bernie “Schoolboy” Friedkin.
After his ring career, Bernie continued to serve the sport as a judge. A devoted family man, Bernie Friedkin is survived by adored wife Lenore, his two daughters Donna and Marilyn, their respective husbands, Artie and Ian and grandchildren Sabrina, Rachel and Scott.
Services are scheduled for Sunday, January 21st, 12 noon at Kirschenbaum Bros. Funeral Parlor, 1153 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.