The 116 pound, 5'4" Pincus “Pinky” Silverberg was an Ansonian who rose to become the flyweight champion of the world in 1927. He was born in the Bronx, New York on April 5, 1904, one of six siblings, with three other boys and two girls. When his father moved to Ansonia in 1920 to search for work in one of the mills, Pinky followed.
Silverberg began his fighting career that same year, when he was 16 years old, telling the boxing commission he was 18 so he could be paid as a professional. His older brother Herman was already fighting as a featherweight under the name "Kid Silvers". The brothers fought exclusively in New Haven in those days.
Nine of Pinky’s first 20 recorded bouts are listed as draws but seven years later he took the Connecticut State flyweight championship and was a top contenders Flyweight division. He had at least 78 of his professional fights from Australia to Cuba to Panama and, remarkably, was knocked out only once in all those matches. He record stands at 29 wins, 4 of those by knockout, 30 losses and 12 draws.
In mid-1927, flyweight champ Fidel LaBarba, who began boxing for cash at age 12, announced that he was giving up the title to enter Stanford University to study journalism. A few weeks later it was announced at that Silverberg would on Ruby Bradley for the title at the Bridgeport Armory.
The entire affair was a rushed mess and slapped together by a man named Thomas Donohue, who was president of the National Boxing Association as well as the Connecticut state boxing commissioner.
Donohue, and Donohue alone, decided that hurried match between Silverberg and Bradley be branded a title match which outraged dozens of other fighters in the weight class who were calling for an elimination tournament to determine who the new flyweight champ would be. The match went on anyway only to have Bradley was disqualified in the seventh round for a low blow making Silverberg the champion.
Suspicions were raised and dissent was rampant through the ranks when non-title rematch was called between Silverberg and Bradley seven weeks later on December 3, 1927 at the State Armory in Bridgeport which Bradley won on points in a ten-round unanimous decision. Once again Thomas Donohue, who was still feeling the heat from the title match, trounced on to the scene and stripped Silverberg of his title due to an "unsatisfactory performance."
Despite the fact that Silverberg was boxing with a broken hand in the bout which hampered his performance. It remains the only time in 175 years of recorded American boxing history that a champion lost his belt in a non-title bout.
Pinky Silverberg continued to box for 10 more years after his title loss and had his last fight in 1937 and retired to Ansonia and went to work for AVCO Lycoming in Stratford, inspecting aircraft engines. He had a few skirmishes with law but nothing of any serious consequence, he dabbled in local politics and occasionally he taught boxing as a volunteer at the YMCA and refereed local bouts. He suffered a series of heart attacks in the late 1950s and died of a heart attack on January 16, 1964 at age 57.