Harry Haft was a Holocaust survivor. Interred at age 16, Haft spent nearly six years in slave labor camps such as Stzelin, Poznan-Dempson, and Jawarzno as well as extermination camps such as Gross-Rosen and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Haft learned to box in the camps in bare-knuckle bouts staged for the perverse entertainment of S.S. guards. No match was over until one man was completely unconscious. Haft survives 70 “fights to the finish,” his gnarled fingers becoming lifetime souvenirs. During those six years Harry had been shot, bayoneted, beaten half to death and starved, yet the Germans could not destroy his will to survive.
Sent on a death march toward the end of the war, Harry out ran German machine guns in a daring escape into the Bohemian Forest. After the war, Haft made his way to Munich. There in 1947 he won the Amateur Jewish Heavyweight Championship, and was named the “outstanding Jewish boxer” of the tournament and received cups from American General Lucius Clay.
Harry traveled to America and began a career as a rofessional boxer. His ring record was 13-7, with 7 knockouts. Although a light heavyweight, Haft fought the top heavyweights of his era, including Roland La Starza, and Rocky Marciano, the future undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. Whenever he was asked why he chose boxing, after all didn’t he undergo enough punishment in the concentration camps? Haft would say, “After all I have been through, what harm could a man with gloves on his hands do to me.”