Damon Feldman wasn’t born with a quitting attitude, even in trying times.
His father, the late Marty Feldman, was a renowned boxer and trainer in the community. His mother became a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic when he was young.
He himself faced adversity when his boxing dreams were punctured after suffering a career-ending injury. This, in turn, led him to becoming a promoter and organizing celebrity boxing matches in which tabloid celebrities went up against each other for their “16th” minute of fame. This, too, has led to some notable setbacks and scandals.
But despite any hardships, he’s never been one to give up.
“I have a dream and I’m a fighter, my whole life,” Feldman said. “I never had a ‘quit’ attitude, ever. That just kept me wanting to make it big.”
He had a yearlong battle with depression and is on his way up. In that time, he decided to write a book taking a look at his own life.
“I just hit a brick wall and I just started writing,” he said, “and I wrote my whole life story.”
He celebrated the publication of the book, The 16 Minute Man, which took him three weeks to write, at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia on May 3.
A table of books and other merchandise, including T-shirts and posters, were set up in the back area of the establishment, where there were also auditions for Creed 2 taking place.
Some hopefuls filled out audition forms and then bought a book, which, for $20, included a chance for Feldman to sign it and take pictures. Feldman set himself up in a corner with a poster of the book’s cover, which includes a photo of him holding up two fists and sporting a hat embroidered with “The 16 Minute Man,” set up behind him.
He signed books, gave enthusiastic hugs, handshakes and fist bumps, and made casual rapport with those who came up to him. Three large video screens projected footage from some of Feldman’s past fights when he was in the ring.
“There’s still some things that I want to get together and maybe switch around in it,” he said of the book, which he wrote with help from friends whom he credited with assisting his comeback.
Jackie Borock and Scott Weiner have known Feldman for 20 years, and the two were on hand to get footage of him signing books and interacting with fans for the documentary they’re working on about him.
“We feel like Damon is always doing stuff for other people, and we wanted to do a story about him,” said Borock, who also made a documentary, The Lost Jewish Music of Philadelphia, about klezmer music, “because he’s had his own life, which is very interesting … and we thought that he warranted having a story that focuses on him instead of him focusing on everyone else.”
She hopes their film, which they’ve been working on for two years so far, will put the spotlight on Feldman and his own story instead of the work he’s done for others, and allow others to see him the way she and Weiner see him.
“He attracts a lot of people and people just are drawn to him,” she said. “He’s always humble, he always tries to help people and he himself has overcome a lot of adversity and people don’t know that about him; they just see sort of the finished product and he takes a lot of shots. People go after him because he does stuff that’s a little bit non-mainstream, and I just felt like he should be given his due and his cred, because he really is genuine and in all the years I’ve known him, he’s always been like that.”
Throughout Feldman’s life, he said he wanted to help others.
A big piece of that, too, is the Jewish community. His father had a strong Jewish identity that passed on to Feldman, even if he wasn’t too religious growing up. His goal is to have a Bar Mitzvah soon, both for himself and for his father.
He wants to help Jewish youth learn the lessons he gained growing up in a life of boxing. That could include even teaching them boxing and learning to stand up to bullies.
“I wanna help Jewish young kids … understand that there’s a lot of opportunities and options in life, you’ve just got to be determined and focused and never quit,” he said.
In addition to the book, Feldman has a few other projects in progress. He put together Beauty Battle – The Lip Showdown, which was held May 6 at the Crystal Tea Room and hosted by Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice; lip injectors, hair stylists and makeup artists went head-to-head in various “battles.” The event will take place in Miami and other cities throughout the year.
He has offers on the table for a reality TV series as well as a few other projects, and he’s hoping his book can be made into a biopic. (He would want Channing Tatum to portray him.)
In the meantime, he will continue to hold book signings — including one at Country Squire Diner in his native Broomall on May 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. — and maintain a positive attitude.
“I learned from a young age how to be respectful and just to never quit,” he said. “It was a tough upbringing. It was depressing, but I didn’t understand what depression was honestly until a year and a half ago. This just made me realize life, and I have just a lot to offer people and I want to help people.”