Philadelphia’s Own Jimmy Binns

By Norman Marcus on March 8, 2016

“I met Stallone when I was boxing commissioner. I met him at Bookbinder’s. He was making a new movie and asked me to be in it…”

“Jimmy’s a character straight out of a pulp-fiction novel.”

Fight fans from this city all know the name Binns. James J. Binns is not just a guy from the old working-class neighborhood of Mayfair. He is definitely an anachronism, something that shouldn’t be around anymore but still is for some inexplicable reason. Jimmy is seventy-six years old now and still going strong.

“He’s certainly a man among men. You would think he grew up in the hood somewhere, as opposed to his real background,” said Tom Welsh, assistant squash pro at the Philadelphia Racket Club. But that is the puzzle of Jimmy Binns. You can’t miss him on the street. He always wears a custom tailored Italian suit, slicked back white hair and a solid gold Rolex on his wrist. He seems to have his feet planted in two different worlds, one in the law, the other in the ring. Let’s take a closer look at this guy.

Young Binns learned to box while at La Salle College. His trainer was one Franny Venuti, at a gym on Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. Joey Giardello and Sonny Liston worked out there too. Jimmy had two years of training there as an amateur boxer. He must have taken the advice of Apollo Creed, “Stay in school…Use your brain…” He went to law school at Villanova University on the Main Line.

Jimmy will take on any kind of court case that challenges him. He specializes in anything and everything. For example, in 1981, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers needed a fighting lawyer for a nasty labor strike with then Mayor Bill Green. The grinding negotiations between the two sides went on for weeks, often twenty-four hours a day. In the end, the young mayor lost the strike on points. The union got the decision. Jimmy billed union president John Murray, for so many hours in that case, that he was able to buy a swank summer home in Margate, New Jersey. Neighbors jokingly call his shore house “The ’81 strike…” He gets along so well with the cops down there that he once dressed up like a Margate police officer for a parade, gun and all. He also has a full Philadelphia Police Highway Patrol uniform, including a .40 caliber Glock automatic. Somehow Binns also came up with his own Harley-Davidson Police package motorcycle, which he rode in Hero Thrill Shows for fallen police officers. He has gotten so much in the way of free bikes, motorcycles and horses for various police departments that the boys in blue sometimes look the other way when Jimmy steps over the line a bit.

Binns can get congressmen, senators and even some wise guys on the phone at a moment’s notice. I’m talking about characters like Al Dente, from Broad and Porter Streets in South Philly. Yeah, the real Al Dente, not the firm spaghetti!

As a lawyer Binns has won thirty-one straight cases for the World Boxing Organization. The names of the vanquished are familiar, Muhammad Ali, Tim Witherspoon, Evander Holyfield, Marvin Hagler, Top Rank, Don King, and Mike Tyson. Binns is ranked in the top five percent of Pennsylvania lawyers and was named a Super Lawyer by his peers at the Philadelphia Bar Association. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 1984.

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James Binns Sworn in at Darby Township Police Department

75-Year-Old Rookie Cop

James “Jimmy” Binns has had a successful career as an attorney, but the 75-year-old lawyer isn’t resting on his laurels. He is now part of the Darby Township Police force after graduating at the top of his class.

By NBC10.Com August 1, 2014


James Binns Sworn in at Darby Township Police Department

ANDREA GIRARD- Upper Darby Press

Photo Credit: Photos by John Murphy


Photo 1: Attorney and community leader Jimmy Binns, 74, was sworn in as police officer in the Darby Township Police Department Thursday evening. Here he is seen with the Honorable Penna. Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffrey and Binns’ son Jimmy and grandson Jimmy at the Darby Township Municipal Building in Glenolden, PA taking the official oath.


Photo 2: Jimmy Binns, who graduated at the top of his class from the Municipal Police Academy in December, officially was sworn in as a police officer in the Darby Township Police Department on Thursday evening. Binn’s friend Chubby Checker showed his support and attended the ceremony. Both are South Philly guys.

Binns completed the mandatory nearly 800-hour, 11-month program covering physical, psychological, criminal law and firearms training and testing. He is an inspiring longtime community role model and champion in the law enforcement community in the Delaware. Binns was the Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner and also has appeared in Rocky and Rocky V.
He has been honored for his exemplary leadership, commitment and contributions to the law enforcement community and as a role model for 30,000 youngsters in local Learning for Life & Exploring programs.

Binns is the Chairman of the annual successful Hero Thrill Show in Philadelphia designed to raise money for the education of survivors of deceased police and fire personnel killed in the line of duty in Philadelphia. Binns also is founder of the Hero Cop Plaque and Hero Firefighters’ Plague programs memorializing fallen police and fire heroes killed in the line of duty, and CopWheels, an initiative to raise money for critical police equipment and vehicles in the Delaware Valley.

Location of event July 31st: Darby Township Municipal Building, 21 Bartram Ave. (Glenolden, PA), Delaware County

July 31, 2014

Jimmy Binns, 74, Makes History by Graduating from the College’s Police Academy

jbinns2By:  Anthony Twyman

Attorney Jimmy Binns did what no other person in the history of the College has done—last year, he became the oldest graduate of the College’s Municipal Police Academy at the tender age of 74.

To achieve this feat, Binns passed the Police Academy’s rigorous physical entry requirements with flying colors. He bench pressed 100 pounds and ran 1.5 miles in a little more than 15 minutes (3 minutes under what was required). Binns, who graduated on December 18, did so well that he was selected to be class lieutenant by his instructors, putting him in charge of his fellow cadets.

“It was a wonderful experience for me,” Binns said. “I learned a lot and I think I’ll be able to use it to the benefit of a lot of people.”

At the graduation ceremony, which was held at Ridley High School in Folsom, Binns received an academic achievement award for having a 98.4 percent grade point average, the highest in his class, and an “overall achievement award” from the Delaware County Police Chiefs Association. When he walked off the stage for safekeeping, he handed the awards to his grandson Jimmy Ives, 7, his granddaughter Blair Ives, 5, and his daughter Amy Binns, who were seated in the front row.

While taking his classes at night and on weekends, Binns worked full-time as an attorney in Philadelphia and continued his time-demanding schedule of heading his myriad of charitable causes, such as Holiday Meals for Heroes, the Hero Plaque Program, the Hero Thrill Show and Cops Wheels Inc., which provides equipment for police departments.

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‘Yo Jimmy’

By William Kenny Feb. 6, 2014


Jimmy Binns poses in front of the famed Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Nobody can ac­cuse Jimmy Binns of fail­ing to an­swer the bell.

Or, to bor­row a line from his fa­vor­ite fic­ti­tious Phil­adelphia fight­er, Binns has nev­er been mis­taken for “just an­oth­er bum from the neigh­bor­hood.”

The vet­er­an lit­ig­at­or, former state box­ing com­mis­sion­er, some­time act­or and re­cent sub­urb­an po­lice academy gradu­ate rarely has missed an op­por­tun­ity to in­tensi­fy his com­munity en­gage­ment or amp­li­fy his celebrity since his days as a Pop Warner foot­ball star for the May­fair Rams in the early 1950s.

Per­haps best known nowadays for his fre­quent pub­lic ap­pear­ances ad­voc­at­ing for the fam­il­ies of slain po­lice of­ficers and fire­fight­ers, Binns, 74, boasts an ec­lect­ic cur­riculum vitae that in­cludes cameo ap­pear­ances in two Rocky se­quels. Neither role was a stretch. Film­makers asked Binns to por­tray him­self both times.

“I met Sylvester Stal­lone when I was a box­ing com­mis­sion­er,” Binns said dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view. “I first met him at Book­bind­er’s, and I used to see him out in Las Ve­gas at fights. He was mak­ing a new movie and asked me to act in it.”

Binns played an at­tor­ney in Rocky V in 1990 and a box­ing com­mis­sion­er in Rocky Bal­boa 16 years later.

“I had nice speak­ing parts in each,” he said.

Much like Stal­lone’s title char­ac­ter, Binns is walk­ing proof of the heights to be achieved for an in­di­vidu­al with cha­risma, know­ledge and am­bi­tion, re­gard­less of the neigh­bor­hood from which he comes….

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James Binns Graduates From Police Academy

On December 18, 2013, James Binns graduated from the DCCC Police Academy at the age of 74. Mr. Binns received two accolades: An academic-achievement award honoring his 98.4 percent GPA (his class’ highest) and an “overall achievement award” from the Delaware County Police Chiefs Association.


Video From Mr. Binns’ Graduation & Graduation Party


For Photos of the graduation and news articles covering the story, scroll down.


Photos From Mr. Binns’ Graduation & Graduation Party
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Articles Covering Mr. Binns’ Graduation

Attorney and honorary Philadelphia Police Commissioner Jimmy Binns, right, seen with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, will graduate from the Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy tonight. Photo courtesy of Delco Times.

74-year-old lawyer to graduate from DCCC Municipal Police Academy

By Vince Sullivan, Delaware County Daily Times
POSTED: 12/17/13, 10:47 PM EST | UPDATED: ON 12/18/2013

RIDLEY — Philadelphia attorney James J. Binns has been made an honorary police officer in more than a dozen cities and towns, including Philadelphia and Margate and Brigantine, N.J. Tonight, he will officially join the ranks of the law enforcement community when he graduates from the Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy at the age of 74.
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Lawyer Binns Graduates From Cop School

BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-2513
POSTED: December 20, 2013 – WHEN DELAWARE County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy was planning this year’s graduation ceremony, it had to find a larger venue.

The reason? The expected turnout for Jimmy Binns, a city lawyer with a reputation for working closely with the boys in blue. This time, Binns wasn’t hosting the festivities: He was participating.
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Philanthropist To Graduate From Police Academy At Age 74

December 18, 2013 5:42 AM
By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of Philadelphia’s best-known trial lawyers will be wearing a different hat this evening, when he graduates – along with cadets three and four times younger than him – from the Municipal Police Academy, at Delaware County Community College….
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Photos From Mr. Binns’ Graduation & Graduation Party
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