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Article LinkHall of Fame trainer Ray Arcel was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on August 30, 1899. His father was a Russian-Jewish immigrant. His mother was born in Brooklyn. She wanted to leave the Midwest and return to her family and roots in New York, so the Arcels relocated to Manhattan, first to the Lower East Side and then to West 106th Street in Harlem. Not long after they arrived, Ray Arcel's mother passed away. He was four years old at the time.
Growing up when and where he did, Arcel took the path of most resistance and trained to be a boxer at Grupp's Gymnasium on 116th Street and Eighth Avenue.
"You had to fight in those days," Arcel told Ronald K. Fried in Corner Men. "You lived in a neighborhood where you were challenged every day. We were the only Jewish family there, but that's an old story. Of course, fighting in the street meant nothing. Wherever you'd go, you'd see two guys fighting. If you didn't fight you were yellow."