Boxing great Dave Montrose was born in Russia in 1904 and immigrated to the United States as a small boy. He learned to fight at an early age selling newspapers on the street corners of Sioux City, Iowa. He began boxing professionally at the age of 18. He acquired the name "Newsboy Brown" in one of his early fights. The ring announcer, proceeded to introduce him. "In this corner...," he began. Then, realizing he had not bothered to learn the name of the young fighter, whom he knew only to be a newsboy, he continued, "the brown-skinned newsboy.....Newsboy Brown." The name stuck, and Newsboy Brown went on to become one of the most popular prizefighters of the 1920's and '30's.
The grand opening of the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles on August 5, 1925 was a major media event, attended by such celebrities as Jack Dempsey and Rudolph Valentino. The card featured several six round events, one of which matched Newsboy Brown against Frankie Grandetta. Brown, of course, took the decision. By that time a resident of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, he quickly became a favorite of the local boxing fans, appearing many times in the Olympic Auditorium after that.
Newsboy Brown came about as close as one can to being recognized as a world champion. As a flyweight, he beat world champions Frankie Genaro and Midget Wolgast and fought to two draws with world champion Fidel La Barba. Unfortunately, however, none of these were title fights.
After his second draw with La Barba, Newsboy Brown was acknowledged by many as the logical contender for a shot at La Barba's crown. Before he had that chance, however, La Barba gave up his title to attend Stanford University, throwing the world flyweight championship into dispute. An elimination tournament was held in New York City to determine his successor. It all came down to a final 15 round battle on December 16, 1927 between Newsboy Brown and an ex-soldier from New York named Corporal Izzy Schwartz. Newsboy Brown lost a heartbreaking decision to Schwartz that night. But Schwartz' title was recognized only in New York.
La Barba in the meanwhile had proclaimed his successor to be a veteran flyweight named Johnny McCoy. After his loss to Schwartz, the Newsboy decided to take on McCoy. As the records show, on January 3, 1928, Newsboy Brown defeated Johnny McCoy in Los Angeles to claim the flyweight title. Because of the continuing dispute over the legitimacy of the title, however, the Newsboy's claim was recognized essentially only in California. Eight months later he lost it to Johnny Hill in a 15 round decision in London, England.
He also fought as a bantamweight, against such top contenders as Chalky Wright, who later went on to become World Featherweight Champion from 1941 to 1942. In 1929, Panama Al Brown (no relation) defeated Vidal Gregorio in Long Island City to capture the vacant world bantamweight title, which he successfully defended ten times before finally surrendering it to Baltazar Sangchili on June 1, 1935. In the meantime, however, Newsboy Brown beat World Champion Panama Al Brown in a 15 round bout in Los Angeles on December 15, 1931. Unfortunately, because both fighters weighed in over the 118 point limit, it was a non-title fight, and Newsboy Brown never became world bantamweight champion either.
On March 3, 1931, he won the California Bantamweight title by defeating Speedy Dado in a ten round contest in Los Angeles. He eventually lost it to Philippine champion Young Tommy in a record attendance setting fight in Sacramento, California on January 28, 1932.
After 81 professional fights over 11 years in the ring, he finally hung up the gloves in 1933. He broke into the motion picture business by coaching cowboy star Tom Mix in his fight scenes. As a result of his association with Mix, he landed a job in the properties department of one of the Hollywood studios, where he worked in his later years. Dave Montrose died in 1977 at the age of 73. He is remembered fondly in the boxing community as a tough scrapper with the heart of a lion.