Swipe to read
Sam was born in Manchester in 1902. His mother (who was not Jewish) died when he was young. Sam went to live with his relatives from his father’s side. This family, the Aarons, were observant Jews. So, at the age of 11, Sam was forced to embrace the Jewish religion. He was circumcised within two weeks of entering his aunt’s house, started to attend synagogue, and was sent to cheder (Jewish religious school) and the Jewish Lads Brigade to mix with other Jewish boys.
After leaving school, Sam tried many jobs, as a waterproof schmearer, an assistant picture faker and travelling optician. But at age 16 he enlisted to join the army. Technically, the age of service was 19 but as many as 250,000 teenagers enlisted to fight during World War One. After returning from the army, he struggled to find work. From 1926, he pursued a boxing career. He boxed in and around Manchester, with another Jewish boxer, ‘Kid’ Furness, booking his matches. In the boxing circuit, Sam was known as the ‘Smiling Hebrew’ or ‘Smiling Yiddisher Boy’ – a clear indication of his Jewish identity.
In the late 1930s due to failing eyesight, Sam gave up boxing and went on to work in Fairey’s aviation works.