Friday, February 26, 2016

February 25, 1964 - Liston / Clay Fight - Referee: Barney Felix

February 25, 1964

Some of you may remember, or were reminded of it yesterday in the papers.  February 25, 1964 was the night that Cassius Clay, soon to be known as Muhammad Ali, won the World Heavyweight Championship from Sonny Liston.  Why mention it?  Well, the referee of that fight was my uncle, Barney Felix.  At that time, Barney was the senior boxing referee in New York State but, because New York didn’t sanction that bout, he was banned from officiating any future championship match in New York.  Politics. 

While I didn’t see Barney often, I did get him to tell me his first-hand experience.  First, here’s what’s posted on Wikipedia:
At the end of round four, as Clay returned to his corner, he began experiencing blinding pain in his eyes and asked his trainer Angelo Dundee to cut off his gloves. Dundee refused. It has been speculated that the problem was due to ointment used to seal Liston's cuts, perhaps deliberately applied by his corner to his gloves. Despite Liston's attempts to knock out a blinded Clay, Clay was able to survive the fifth round until sweat and tears rinsed the irritation from his eyes. In the sixth, Clay dominated, hitting Liston repeatedly. Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay was declared the winner by TKO (Technical Knockout). 
Uncle Barney observed it a little differently.  He told me that when Clay was complaining of something in his eyes Barney went over to check things out – first to Clay’s corner and then to Liston’s.  Barney found no ointment or other substance on Liston’s gloves.  Barney felt Clay was scared of Liston and was afraid to come out for the next round.  But he did and the rest is history.
But Barney wasn’t the only Felix Family member who was connected to boxing.  Harry Felix, the oldest of 7 was a welterweight. The records show he had 52 bouts.  His record was 42 wins vs. 10 losses.  Harry boxed a lot of club matches – small venues with small prize money.  Any money he won went to feed the family.  Harry lost an eye due to boxing.  But, Uncle Harry was the gentlest soul you can imagine.  I remember him from family gatherings (sometimes called reunions that we had as some hall in Brooklyn somewhere – I was very young).  However, from what my father, Manney, told me.  Harry was not the best boxer in the family. 
A lot of the early years were spent in ‘cold water flats’ (apartments with no hot running water) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The family moved frequently.  The father had pretty much abandoned the family and money was very, very scarce.  One story goes that they were living in a fourth-floor walk up on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side.  They hadn’t paid rent for several months.  The landlord was climbing up the fire escape (not sure why he didn’t take the stairs but the story is better this way) and Lena, the mother, noticed him coming up.  Knowing he was there to evict them, she poured a pot of hot (I hate to say boiling although that’s how the story went) water on him to scare him away.  Apparently, he backtracked down the fire escape but the next day the family left and moved to another apartment somewhere else.
In those old neighborhoods, different ethnic groups tended to live on different blocks.  As my father said, they were on a Jewish block, the next block over were the Irish, etc.  The boys used to play in the streets and sometimes the games would turn into one group’s top fighter challenging the other group’s champion.  The brother that was the street fighter of the Felix family was Daniel (known to all as Doody).  As it goes, he never lost a fight!
The night of the Liston / Clay fight I had gone to see a Seton Hall University basketball game in South Orange, NJ.  After the game, walking to get some ice cream at Gruning’s in South Orange Village, I mentioned to my friends that my uncle was refereeing the fight that night.  My recollection is that it wasn’t on TV.  They were impressed.
To bring this story full circle – a number of years ago I was at an annual meeting of The Hoyt Fellows – a primarily academic real estate society – of which I am a member.  At dinner, I was seated with Norm Miller, a top professor of real estate at the University of San Diego.  He introduced me to the fellow to his left, sitting directly across from me.  “Steve, do you know Mike Sklarz?”  We shook hands and I looked at Mike.  Something was familiar.  I asked him if he went to Livingston (NJ) High School.  He said he did.  I’m not sure if he remembered me at first but when I reminded him about the night of the Seton Hall game and the Liston/Clay fight he remembered:  it was he, Greg Schultz and myself that had gone to the Seton Hall game together!
Mike, excuse me, Dr. Sklarz founded a company called Collateral Analytics which develops real estate analytic products and tools to support financial institutions, institutional and retail investors as well as property capital market activities.

Just another run of the mill small world story!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

NAREIM Research Meeting / RERI Conference / NCREIF Winter Conference / Nick Tyrrell Research Prize / CRE Tech Intersect

I was in Chicago last week.  No matter how many times I’ve visited there the architecture always impresses me. For those of you who have not done it yet, there are some great architectural boat tours to be taken – I’d wait for the spring if I were you! I’ve been fortunate to have done it twice and each time you see something different – especially because the skyline is continually changing.

NAREIM Research and Investment Management Meeting

NAREIM (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers) runs a series of meetings focused on different specialized areas of the real estate investment management world. 

This research meeting is the second such that I’ve attended and I was so glad to be there.  Amongst the group of 22 that gathered in NAREIM’s funky Chicago office in the Wrigley building were 5 marquee names in real estate research –

Mike Acton, AEW
Allan Billingsley (retired), RREEF
Jim Clayton, Cornerstone
Doug Herzbrun, CBRE Global Investors
Will McIntosh, USAA

And, while the experiences these industry veterans shared contributed greatly, the attendance and contributions from the next generation of folks passionate about research really made the discussion and meeting special. 

Gunnar Branson, CEO of NAREIM does not like the status quo.  In all his meetings, he challenges participants by providing attendees a ‘License to Think in Public.’  This results in a remarkably open dialogue otherwise rarely experienced.

Due to the rules of engagement at NAREIM meetings, I am not permitted to share specifics of what was discussed or some of the wonderfully colorful comments people made – you need to be there for yourself to take those away!  But, if you are in the research side of the real estate investment management business, or have an interest in pursuing that avenue, I highly recommend you consider attending next year’s meeting.

One update from the meeting I can share with you involves the announcement from Jim Clayton about the upcoming Real Estate Research Institute (RERI) Conference in Chicago on May 10 and 11. RERI is an academic group within the institutional real estate research world.  At this meeting, the authors themselves will present papers and there will be ample opportunity for discussion. 

Peter Steil, CEO of NCREIF (National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries) also attended the NAREIM meeting and brought additional insights.  NCREIF’s WinterConference is taking place March 9-11 in Phoenix, AZ.  In addition to CEO’s from NCREIF, ANREV (Asian Association for Investors in Non-listed Real Estate Vehicles and INREV (European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles) discussing global collaboration efforts, the Closing General Session will feature my good friend, Doug Poutasse, Executive VP and Head of Strategy at Bentall Kennedy talking about “What’s different this time?”  If you have not heard Doug speak, he alone is worth the price of admission! I’ve attended this event in the past and the mixture of pension funds, consultants and managers gives it an eclectic dynamic.  Unfortunately, I have a conflict and will not be able to make it this time but if you attend please send me a few takeaways to share with our community.

Nick Tyrrell Research Prize 2016 Call for Papers

Some of you will recognize the name Nick Tyrrell.  Nick was a friend of mine and until his untimely death in 2010 was Managing Director and Head of Research and Strategy in JPMorgan’s European Asset Management Business.  Nick was his own person, rode a motorcycle from the suburbs to his London office, loved rock ‘n roll (not hard to figure out why he and I hit it off!) and a brilliant real estate mind. 

In 2011, the Nick Tyrrell Research Prize was established in by the Investment Property Forum, INREV and the Society of Property Researchers to recognize and promote high quality applied research in the field of real estate investment.  Here’s the announcement / invitation to this year’s competition posted on LinkedIn by another good friend, Paul Kennedy of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA):

The prize is in memory of the work and industry contribution of Nick Tyrrell. His research work was characterized by a combination of academic rigor, practical relevance and the encouragement of young researchers.

The response of the research community to the inaugural prize in 2012 was very encouraging with a large number of quality and diverse papers submitted by leading academics and practitioner researchers from around the world. Over the last four years the number and diversity of submissions has expanded and the prize has established itself as an increasingly prestigious award.

I am writing to invite you to submit a paper for the 2016 prize. The deadline for submissions is the 31st of May 2016. As with previous years, the Nick Tyrrell Research Prize will be awarded to a paper addressing any topic in real estate investment that, in the opinion of the Judges, combines both academic robustness and practical relevance.

For 2016, the sponsors have created an additional award, the Nick Tyrrell Under 35 Research Prize, to allow the Judges to recognize work by younger members of the research community. This change reflects both the original aims of the Prize and the growing number of high quality papers submitted by younger researchers over the last four years. In order to qualify for this new award all authors should be below the age of 35 on the closing date for submissions (i.e., the 31st of May 2016).

In addition to a cash prize of £2,000  / $2881.20 (£1,000 / $1,440.60) for the under 35 award), the winners will receive publicity from the three sponsoring organizations and an opportunity to present their work at an industry seminar and, if required, assistance with journal submission.

If you would like to submit a paper, or require further information on the Nick Tyrrell Research Prize, please do not hesitate to contact me, Paul Kennedy  ( or Ms. Henri Vuong (

CRE Tech Intersect

On the subject of worthwhile events to attend I offer you CRE Tech Intersect which, on it’s website, describes itself as “a grassroots effort driven by a small number of passionate individuals and supported by industry leading firms.”

I’ve attended two of their events already and will be attending others this year - they are very exciting.  The Intersect brings together many established and start-up commercial real estate technology companies in one place.  You can talk with the founders and/or senior folks of CRE tech companies and learn about what they’re doing and why. 

CRE Tech Intersect is the brainchild of Pierce Neiken whose ‘day job’ is with AirbnB. One of the thing that excites me about attending these events is going back in time when I, as the head of marketing and sales for a commercial real estate industry start-up called CREOL (Commercial Real Estate Online), participated in the first ever commercial real estate tech conference in 1997, seemingly light years ago, in New York City which was organized by Peter Pike, one of the industry’s first bloggers and visionaries.  There were 6 exhibitors and about 40 attendees!  To get a flavor of the CRE Tech Intersect take a look at these pix from the last event.

The next CRE Tech Intersects:
March 10:  Austin, TX
March 23:  Los Angeles, CA
June 2:  San Francisco, CA
September 15:  London
October 6: New York City

Passing comment: At the airport

I don’t know if any of you have experienced this: sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight.  As you look at people passing by, you see certain faces which remind you of people in your own life…someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or have been meaning to contact (but forgot) and others you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time. And you make a note to touch base with those folks.  It's a fascinating thing!

On the Road...

Feb. 24 – 25: National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) Executive Officers Retreat, Miami FL

March 2:  14th Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, Los Angeles   

March 7-8:  (PREA) Pension Real Estate Association Spring Conference, Boston, MA 

March 10:  15th Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, New York City 

March 14-15:  Client presentation coaching workshop, New York City

March 16: iGlobal Forum Real Estate Private Equity Forum, New York City  

April 6-7:  NAREIM Asset and Portfolio Management Meeting, Atlanta, GA  

April 13-14:  PERE Global Investors Forum, Los Angeles, CA


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