The formula was simple: Merge stolen horses from Monmouth Park and a jockey who might have been a fifth grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School – cross your fingers and pray for hay. Throw in a publicist, three disgruntled OTB operators, a salsa dance instructor and two race fixers and you’ve got the makings of a first rate equestrian team. The league producing Cleopatra Whyte, warrior horse woman of Asbury Park legend, who, aboard the chimerical steed, Ethiopian Flicka, rode to a fourth place finish at the 1970 FEI European Show Jumping Championships.
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While the US halted the printing of the $10,000 bill and feet were mired in the mud of Woodstock, boxing mania swept through the West Side of Asbury. The son of a prominent Nicaraguan lawn service manager, Jose ‘Joey Blades’ Jardena was an obvious target when Sandinista rebels hijacked a San Carlos bound flight from Teterboro, NJ in April of 1969, ultimately putting numerous rounds through the budding boxing impresario’s body. After several years and as many surgeries, he would break ground in founding and forming Asbury Park’s first boxing institute. These (mostly) child pugilists, whether fastidiously trained or shockingly green, included 10-year-old Institute member Irv Abramson, who, fighting under the moniker ‘Kid Moskovitz’ earned a shot for the Super Mini Flyweight belt at the 1973 Parve Championships held at the Red Bank Armory in July of that year.
Sometime between 1959 and 1963, a group of American ex-pats led by Dave Stoller brought the European native sport of road bicycle racing across the Atlantic, settling in Asbury Park for its level terrain and proximity to salt water. With 1933 Tour de Suisse program director Max Bulla on board, Stoller instilled the team with the credo of the Black Hebrew culture emanating from St. Kitts and declared the corner of Summerfield Ave and Main St, the center of the cycling spiritual universe. The famed SCC program producing 1969 Union Cycliste Internationale co-rookies of the year, twins Bumpy & Black Belt Jones. The Asbury biking gospel pedals on and their message endures – peace, salvation, love…and 100% kosher soul cycling.
Warsaw, Poland 1968: The former au pair for Robert ‘Kool’ Bell of Jersey City’s Kool & The Gang and two of her teenage friends are at the doorstep of Egon Franke, Olympic fencing gold medalist, Tokyo, 1964. They sign up for a year’s worth of lessons even though Franke is incarcerated and presently serving out a three-year jaywalking sentence inside the Podgorze Detention Center on the outskirts of Krakow. Having relocated to Asbury Park upon Franke’s release and living on busking wages and shoplifted sandwiches, their efforts result in a three-way tie for seventh place at 1972’s Munich Olympiad.
By 1971, Asbury Park, NJ, once a finalist for a Tree City USA distinction by the DEA, had succumbed to despair, laissez-faire and general malaise…putting a weighty lid on a city that once cooked up world changing talent. Enter Lee ‘Fort’ Lee. Already a living legend for his work at the Garden State Parkway’s Exit 102 toll booth; Lee channeled his talents for horse rustling, mountaineering and sailboat rigging into forming and coaching Asbury’s first tug of war club. Aiming to keep the kids off the streets, out of gangs and in the school house via the centuries old sport of tug of war. Lee, along with 1966 TWIF bronze medalist Nutley Jackson, forged a sporting society from which young Asbury men and women corkscrewing downward could ride the tug of war groove onwards and upwards.