Herbert W. 'Buddy' Ey Jr.

A city police officer, he was a member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame who chronicled the history of the sport.

October 28, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Herbert William "Buddy" Ey Jr., a member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame who chronicled the history of professional boxing in the state from 1930 to 1940, died of heart failure Oct. 19 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Essex resident was 81.

Mr. Ey, the son of a police officer, was born in Baltimore and raised on South Decker Avenue in Highlandtown.

Mr. Ey left Patterson High School in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy, where he served as a seaman first class.

In 1949, he joined the Maryland State Police and served as a trooper at the Easton and Waterloo barracks before joining Baltimore's police force in 1950.

He was promoted to sergeant and was assigned to the Southern District at the time of his 1979 retirement.

The next day, he went to work as a special investigator in the juvenile division of the state's attorney's office, where he remained until retiring a second time in 1997.

Mr. Ey's lifelong interest in boxing was fostered by self-preservation. Highlandtown bullies relished beating up the elementary school student whose mother had given him cakes and other goodies hoping that they'd leave him alone, he once said.

"It didn't help a bit," he told the Sunday Sun Magazine in a 1963 interview. "They took the cake and then they'd beat me up."

His father, Herbert W. "Butch" Ey Sr., also a city policeman, had enough of seeing his son beaten up and bought him a pair of boxing gloves.

"I was big for my age but still a coward. My father thought I might learn to defend myself by watching the pros fight," he said in the interview, adding that he saw his first match at age 8.

After word hit the streets that he was working out, his tormentors left him alone.

Mr. Ey then began boxing at the local YMCA under the tutelage of Lee Halfpenny and Eddie Sternsdorf. He later worked out with noted lightweight boxer Pete Galiano, "who taught me everything in the book. He was my idol, as a boy, and then he became my trainer," he told the Sunday Sun Magazine in a 1980 "I Remember" feature article.

In 1953, Mr. Ey was appointed boxing instructor at the police academy. In the ensuing years, he conducted 56 consecutive classes, teaching 2,500 rookie officers - including future police commissioners Edward Tilghman and Edward V. Woods.

Mr. Ey enjoyed boxing so much that he erected a standard-size boxing ring in the backyard of his Essex home where amateurs, pros and novices gathered to spar.

For decades, Mr. Ey collected boxing art, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia.

In 1973, Mr. Ey launched an ambitious research project documenting every professional boxing match held in Maryland from Jan. 1, 1930, to Dec. 31, 1939, which he considered the sport's most eventful period. After a decade spent researching at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Mr. Ey published Professional Boxing In Maryland 1930-1940 in 1983.

Mr. Ey dedicated the book to his father, "who started my love affair with boxing so many years ago."

Mr. Ey, who had been for years a correspondent for Ring and Boxing Digest magazines, was inducted into the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame in 1976.

Frank Gilbert is vice president of the South Atlantic Association, which includes several boxing clubs in Maryland. "Buddy was blessed with a phenomenal memory and is the leading boxing historian in Maryland," Mr. Gilbert said.

He added: "I like to think that no one is irreplaceable, but Buddy is. We're going to really miss him."

Services were Thursday.

Surviving are his wife of 54 years, the former Anna Mazzella; a son, Robert W. Ey of Clearwater, Fla.; two daughters, Carol Ann Layer and Rosemarie Kirschner, both of Bel Air; a sister, Marguerite Coulter of Mount Dora, Fla.; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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