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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.

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