Born October 15, 1901 in Kiev, Russia, Kaplan and his family emigrated to the United States when he was five years old and settled in Meriden, CT. He began boxing as a teenager at the Lenox A.C. in Meriden and turned professional in 1919. A busy fighter, he engaged in over 50 bouts in his first 4 years in the paid ranks. In 1923 he twice drew with rival Babe Herman before scoring a 10-round win over future world lightweight champ Jimmy Goodrich.
By late 1924 featherweight champion Johnny Dundee vacated his title and a tournament was arranged to determine a successor. "Kid" kayoed Angel Diaz in three stanzas, outpointed Bobby Garcia over 10-rounds and then halted Joe Lombardo in four rounds to advance to the finals. On January 2, 1925 he knocked out Danny Kramer in nine rounds at Madison Square Garden to become the new champion. His first two defenses were against the familiar Babe Herman (D15 and W15) in late 1925. Kaplan next decisioned Hall of Famer Billy Petrolle over 12 rounds in a non-title bout.
However, Kaplan's reign as champion was nearing its end. Despite standing 5ft 4 in. he was experiencing difficulty making the featherweight limit and decided to relinquish the crown to campaign as a lightweight in 1927. As a 135-pounder, he scored wins over Jackie Fields, Johnny Jadick, Billy Wallace, Joe Glick Goodrich, Battling Battalino and Sammy Mandell among others. Amongst the wins were loses to Wallace, Eddie Ran, and Hall of Famer Jimmy McLarnin. In 1933 he lost to Cocoa Kid and promptly retired from the ring with a 104-18-12D- 19 ND (25KOs) record.
Known as a rugged, pressing boxer who possessed tremendous stamina, the crowd-pleasing "Meriden Buzzsaw" died on October 26, 1970 in Norwich, CT.
Born: Oct. 15, 1901
Died: Oct. 26, 1970