Basilio (left) with Jack Dempsey, 1958.
|Nickname(s)||The Upstate Onion Farmer|
|Height||5 ft 6 1⁄2 in (169 cm)|
|Born||April 2, 1927|
Canastota, New York
|Died||November 7, 2012 (aged 85)|
Rochester, New York
|Wins by KO||27|
Carmen Basilio (Born Carmine Basilio, April 2, 1927 in Canastota, NY – November 7, 2012) was an American professional boxer who was the world champion in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions, beating Sugar Ray Robinson for the latter title. An iron-chinned pressure fighter, Basilio was a combination puncher who had great stamina, and eventually wore many of his opponents down with vicious attacks to the head and body.
Basilio was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. The Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year in 1957, while the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) named him Fighter of the Year in 1955 and 1957. In 2002, Basilio was voted by The Ring magazine as the 40th greatest fighter of the last 80 years.
Basilio began his professional boxing career by meeting Jimmy Evans on 24 November 1948 in Binghamton, New York. He knocked Evans out in the third round, and five days later, he beat Bruce Walters in only one round. By the end of 1948, he had completed four bouts.
He started 1949 with two draws, against Johnny Cunningham on January 5, and against Jay Perlin 20 days later. Basilio campaigned exclusively inside the state of New York during his first 24 bouts, going 19-3-2 during that span. His first loss was at the hands of Connie Thies, who beat him in a six-round decision on 2 May 1949. He fought Cunningham three more times during that period. Basilio won by knockout in two rounds on their second meeting, Cunningham won by a decision in eight in their third fight and Basilio won by a decision in eight rounds in their fourth.
In the middle of that 24 bout span, 1950 rolled over, and Basilio met former world champion Lew Jenkins, winning in a 10-round decision.
For fight number 25, Basilio decided that it was time to campaign out West so he went to New Orleans, where he boxed his next six fights. In his first bout there, he met Gaby Farland, who held him to a draw. He and Farland had a rematch, Basilio winning by a knockout in the first round. He also boxed Guillermo Giminez there twice, first beating him by knockout in eight, and then by knockout in nine. In his last fight before returning home, he lost by a decision in 10 to Eddie Giosa.
For his next seven bouts, Basilio only went 3-3-1, but he was able to avenge his loss to Giosa by winning a ten-round decision over him in Syracuse.
In 1952, Basilio went 6-2-1. He beat Jimmy Cousins among others that year, but he lost to Chuck Davey and Billy Graham. The draw he registered that year was against Davey in the first of the two meetings that year.
Rise in the ranks
In 1953. Basilio started winning big fights and rose in the Welterweight division's rankings. He secured his first world title fight, against Cuba's Kid Gavilán for Gavilán's world welterweight championship.
Before fighting against Gavilan, he beat former world light-weight champion Ike Williams, and had two more fights with Graham, avenging his earlier loss to Graham in the second bout between them with a 12-round decision win, and drawing in the third. Basilio lost a 15-round decision to Gavilan and went for a fourth meeting with Cunningham, this time winning by a knockout in four. Then, he and French fighter Pierre Langois began another rivalry, with a 10-round draw in the first bout between the two.
In 1954, Basilio went undefeated in eight bouts, going 7-0-1 with 2 knockouts, and defeating Langois in their rematch by decision.
In 1955, Basilio began by beating Peter Müller by decision. After that, Basilio was once again the number one challenger, and on June 10 of that year, he received his second world title try, against world Welterweight champion Tony DeMarco. Basilio became world champion by knocking out DeMarco in the 12th round. Basilio had two non-title bouts, including a ten-round decision win over Gil Turner, before he and DeMarco met again, this time with Basilio as the defending world champion. Their second fight had exactly the same result as their first bout: Basilio won by a knockout in 12.
For his next fight, in 1956, Basilio lost the title in Chicago to Johnny Saxton by a decision in 15. Saxton's manager, mafioso Frank "Blinky" Palermo", was later jailed along with his partner Frankie Carbo for fixing fights. Basilio said of losing his title to the referees' decision, "It was like being robbed in a dark alley." In an immediate rematch that was fought in Syracuse, Basilio regained the crown with a nine-round knockout, and then, in a rubber match, Basilio kept the belt, by a knockout in two.
After that, he went up in weight and challenged ageing 36- year-old world Middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson, in what may have been his most famous fight. He won the Middleweight championship of the world by beating Robinson in a 15-round decision, September 23, 1957. The day after, he had to abandon the Welterweight belt, according to boxing laws. In 1957 Basilio won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year.
In 1958, he and Robinson met in a rematch on March 25 and Robinson barely regained the title with a 15-round controversial decision. Basilio's left eye was totally swelled shut from the 6th round on and still many of the ringside press thought Basilio won this second fight. This too was a split decision just as their first fight was.
From that moment, and until his retirement in 1961, he fought only sporadically, but 3 of his last fights were attempts to recover the world's Middleweight title, losing twice to Gene Fullmer; by a TKO knockout in 14 at San Francisco; and by a TKO knockout in 12, in Fullmer's home state of Utah (in Salt Lake City), and then also later, when he lost a 10-round decision to defending world champion Paul Pender.
In between those fights, he was able to beat Art Aragon, by knockout in eight, and former world Welterweight champion Don Jordan, by decision in ten. His fight with Pender for the title, was also his last fight as a professional boxer.
Basilio retired with a ring record of 56 wins, 16 losses and 7 draws, with 27 wins by knockout.
After his retirement, Basilio worked for a time at the Genesee Brewery in Rochester, NY. Later Carmen, a high-school dropout, taught physical education at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Basilio, who was also a member of the United States Marine Corps at one point of his life, was able to enjoy his retirement. Carmen was associated with a sausage company, frequently confused with a separate sausage company run by his brother Paul, for which he was a salesman. During the 1970s, his nephew Billy Backus became world's welterweight champion after having a shaky start to his own boxing career, and Basilio declared on the day that Backus became champion, that to him, Billy winning the title was better than when he won it himself.
In 1990, Ed Brophy decided to build the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, New York to honor the two world champions who were born there: Basilio and his nephew. Although Backus isn't a member of the Hall Of Fame, Basilio is, along with many of the fighters he met inside the ring.
In the late 1990s, Basilio became seriously ill, and he required triple bypass heart surgery. Doctors were able to repair his heart.
Basilio was interviewed for an HBO documentary on Sugar Ray Robinson called "The Bright Lights and Dark Shadows of a Champion". He mentioned that although he respected Robinson's talents in the ring, he did not like him as a person.
In 2010, "Title Town USA, Boxing in Upstate New York" by historian Mark Allen Baker was published by The History Press in 2010 and identifies Canastota as the epicenter of Upstate New York's rich boxing heritage. The book includes chapters on both Carmen Basilio and Billy Backus. The introduction was written by Edward P. Brophy Executive Director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He died aged 85 in 2012, and is survived by his wife Josephine Basillio.
Championships and accomplishments
Professional boxing record
|79 fights||56 wins||16 losses|
|79||Loss||56–16–7||Paul Pender||UD||15||Apr 22, 1961||Boston Garden, Boston||For The Ring and lineal middleweight titles|
|78||Win||56–15–7||Don Jordan||UD||10||Mar 11, 1961||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|77||Win||55–15–7||Gaspar Ortega||UD||10||Jan 07, 1961||Madison Square Garden, New York|
|76||Loss||54–15–7||Gene Fullmer||TKO||12 (15)||Jun 29, 1960||Derks Field, Salt Lake City||For NBA middleweight title|
|75||Loss||54–14–7||Gene Fullmer||TKO||14 (15)||Aug 28, 1959||Cow Palace, Daly City||For vacant NBA middleweight title|
|74||Win||54–13–7||Arley Seifer||TKO||3 (10)||Apr 01, 1959||Bell Auditorium, Augusta|
|73||Win||53–13–7||Art Aragon||TKO||8 (10)||Sep 05, 1958||Wrigley Field, Los Angeles|
|72||Loss||52–13–7||Sugar Ray Robinson||SD||15||Mar 25, 1958||Chicago Stadium, Chicago||Lost The Ring and lineal middleweight titles|
|71||Win||52–12–7||Sugar Ray Robinson||SD||15||Sep 23, 1957||Yankee Stadium, Bronx||Won The Ring and lineal middleweight titles|
|70||Win||51–12–7||Harold Jones||TKO||4 (10)||May 16, 1957||Auditorium, Portland|
|69||Win||50–12–7||Johnny Saxton||TKO||2 (15)||Feb 22, 1957||Arena, Cleveland||Retained The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|68||Win||49–12–7||Johnny Saxton||TKO||9 (15)||Sep 12, 1956||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse||Won The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|67||Loss||48–12–7||Johnny Saxton||UD||15||Mar 14, 1956||Chicago Stadium, Chicago||Lost The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|66||Win||48–11–7||Tony DeMarco||TKO||12 (15)||Nov 30, 1955||Boston Garden, Boston||Retained The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|65||Win||47–11–7||Gil Turner||MD||10||Sep 07, 1955||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|64||Win||46–11–7||Italo Scortichini||UD||10||Aug 10, 1955||Madison Square Garden, New York|
|63||Win||45–11–7||Tony DeMarco||TKO||12 (15)||Jun 10, 1955||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse||Won The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|62||Win||44–11–7||Peter Müller||UD||10||Jan 21, 1955||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|61||Win||43–11–7||Ronnie Harper||RTD||3 (10)||Dec 16, 1954||Armory, Akron|
|60||Win||42–11–7||Allie Gronik||UD||10||Oct 15, 1954||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|59||Win||41–11–7||Carmine Fiore||UD||10||Sep 10, 1954||Madison Square Garden, New York|
|58||Win||40–11–7||Ronnie Harper||TKO||2 (10)||Aug 17, 1954||Fort Wayne|
|57||Win||39–11–7||Al Andrews||UD||10||Jun 26, 1954||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|56||Win||38–11–7||Italo Scortichini||UD||10||May 15, 1954||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|55||Win||37–11–7||Pierre Langlois||UD||10||Apr 17, 1954||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|54||Draw||36–11–7||Italo Scortichini||PTS||10||Jan 16, 1954||Dinner Key Auditorium, Coconut Grove|
|53||Draw||36–11–6||Pierre Langlois||PTS||10||Dec 19, 1953||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|52||Win||36–11–5||Johnny Cunningham||KO||4 (10)||Nov 28, 1953||Civic Auditorium, Toledo|
|51||Loss||35–11–5||Kid Gavilan||SD||15||Sep 18, 1953||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse||For The Ring and lineal welterweight titles|
|50||Draw||35–10–5||Billy Graham||PTS||12||Jul 25, 1953||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|49||Win||35–10–4||Billy Graham||UD||12||Jun 06, 1953||Memorial Stadium, Syracuse|
|48||Win||34–10–4||Carmine Fiore||TKO||9 (10)||Apr 11, 1953||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|47||Win||33–10–4||Vic Cardell||UD||10||Feb 28, 1953||Sports Arena, Toledo|
|46||Win||32–10–4||Ike Williams||UD||10||Jan 12, 1953||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|45||Win||31–10–4||Chuck Foster||TKO||5 (10)||Nov 18, 1952||Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo|
|44||Win||30–10–4||Sammy Giuliani||KO||3 (10)||Oct 20, 1952||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|43||Win||29–10–4||Baby Williams||UD||10||Sep 22, 1952||Auditorium, Miami Beach|
|42||Loss||28–10–4||Billy Graham||UD||10||Aug 20, 1952||Chicago Stadium, Chicago|
|41||Loss||28–9–4||Chuck Davey||UD||10||Jul 16, 1952||Chicago Stadium, Chicago|
|40||Draw||28–8–4||Chuck Davey||PTS||10||May 29, 1952||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|39||Win||28–8–3||Jackie O'Brien||MD||10||Mar 31, 1952||South Main Street Armory, Wilkes-Barre|
|38||Win||27–8–3||Jimmy Cousins||UD||8||Feb 28, 1952||Armory, Akron|
|37||Win||26–8–3||Emmett Norris||UD||10||Feb 04, 1952||South Main Street Armory, Wilkes-Barre|
|36||Loss||25–8–3||Ross Virgo||UD||10||Sep 26, 1951||Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans|
|35||Win||25–7–3||Shamus McCray||PTS||8||Sep 17, 1951||War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse|
|34||Loss||24–7–3||Johnny Cesario||UD||10||Jun 18, 1951||McConnell Field, Utica|
|33||Loss||24–6–3||Lester Felton||UD||10||May 29, 1951||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|32||Win||24–5–3||Eddie Giosa||UD||10||Apr 12, 1951||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|31||Win||23–5–3||Floro Hita||PTS||8||Mar 09, 1951||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|30||Loss||22–5–3||Vic Cardell||SD||10||Dec 15, 1950||Madison Square Garden, New York|
|29||Loss||22–4–3||Eddie Giosa||PTS||10||Aug 28, 1950||Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans|
|28||Win||22–3–3||Guillermo Gimenez||RTD||8 (10)||Jul 31, 1950||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans|
|27||Win||21–3–3||Guillermo Gimenez||RTD||7 (10)||Jun 21, 1950||Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans|
|26||Win||20–3–3||Gaby Ferland||KO||1 (10)||May 05, 1950||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans|
|25||Draw||19–3–3||Gaby Ferland||PTS||10||Apr 12, 1950||Coliseum Arena, New Orleans|
|24||Loss||19–3–2||Mike Koballa||UD||8||Mar 27, 1950||Eastern Parkway Arena, Brooklyn|
|23||Win||19–2–2||Lew Jenkins||MD||10||Mar 06, 1950||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|22||Win||18–2–2||Adrien Mourguiart||TKO||7 (10)||Feb 07, 1950||Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo|
|21||Win||17–2–2||Cassell Tate||MD||8||Jan 24, 1950||Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo|
|20||Win||16–2–2||Sonny Jim Hampton||UD||8||Jan 10, 1950||Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo|
|19||Win||15–2–2||Johnny Parker||RTD||2 (8)||Sep 30, 1949||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|18||Win||14–2–2||Tony DiPelino||UD||8||Sep 07, 1949||Red Wing Stadium, Rochester|
|17||Win||13–2–2||Johnny Cunningham||PTS||8||Aug 17, 1949||MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse|
|16||Loss||12–2–2||Johnny Cunningham||SD||8||Aug 02, 1949||Bennett's Field, Utica|
|15||Win||12–1–2||Sammy Daniels||UD||8||Jul 21, 1949||Bennett's Field, Utica|
|14||Win||11–1–2||Jesse Bradshaw||TKO||2 (6)||Jul 12, 1949||MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse|
|13||Win||10–1–2||Johnny Cunningham||KO||2 (6)||Jun 07, 1949||MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse|
|12||Win||9–1–2||Johnny Clemons||KO||3 (6)||May 18, 1949||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|11||Loss||8–1–2||Connie Thies||PTS||6||May 02, 1949||Sports Arena, Rochester|
|10||Win||8–0–2||Elliot Throop||KO||1 (6)||Apr 20, 1949||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|9||Win||7–0–2||Jerry Drain||TKO||3 (6)||Mar 18, 1949||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|8||Win||6–0–2||Luke Jordan||PTS||6||Feb 17, 1949||Sports Arena, Rochester|
|7||Win||5–0–2||Ernie Hall||KO||2 (6)||Jan 25, 1949||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|6||Draw||4–0–2||Jimmy Parlin||PTS||6||Jan 19, 1949||Kalurah Temple, Binghamton|
|5||Draw||4–0–1||Johnny Cunningham||PTS||6||Jan 05, 1949||Kalurah Temple, Binghamton|
|4||Win||4–0||Rolly Johns||SD||6||Dec 15, 1948||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|3||Win||3–0||Eddie Thomas||KO||2 (6)||Dec 08, 1948||Kalurah Temple, Binghamton|
|2||Win||2–0||Bruce Walters||KO||1 (4)||Nov 29, 1948||State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse|
|1||Win||1–0||Jimmy Evans||KO||3 (4)||Nov 24, 1948||Kalurah Temple, Binghamton|
- List of welterweight boxing champions
- List of middleweight boxing champions
- List of left-handed boxers
- "The Lineal Welterweight Champs". Cyber Boxing Zone. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- "The Lineal Middleweight Boxing Champs". Cyber Boxing Zone.
- Andrew Eisele. "Ring Magazine's 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years". About.com Sports.
- "BLINKY PALERMO, MOBSTER WHO RAN BOXING DIES!". Ring Talk. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
- Acevedo, Carlos. "STRANGE DAYS: The Johnny Saxton Story". The Cruelest Sport. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- "Carmen Basilio Dies at 85; Took Title From Robinson" NYTimes November 7, 2012
- John Rawling (November 9, 2012). "Carmen Basilio obituary | Sport". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
- "Honorees". Cauliflower Alley Club. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
- Eastside Boxing
- Carmen Basilio's bio at the Internet Movie Database
- Boxing record for Carmen Basilio from BoxRec
- Carmen Basilio interviewed by Mike Wallace on The Mike Wallace Interview October 26, 1957
- N.Y. Times Obituary for Carmen Basilio
- Strange Days: The Johnny Saxton Story, The Cruelest Sport
| World Welterweight Champion
June 10, 1955 – March 14, 1956
| World Welterweight Champion
September 12, 1956 – September 23, 1957
Sugar Ray Robinson
| World Middleweight Champion
September 23, 1957 – March 25, 1958
Sugar Ray Robinson