Carmen Basilio

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Carmen Basilio
Carmen Basilio 1955.jpg
Basilio after defending the world title in 1955
Statistics
Nickname(s)The Upstate Onion Farmer
Weight(s)Welterweight
Middleweight
Height5 ft 6+12 in (169 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1927-04-02)April 2, 1927
Canastota, New York
DiedNovember 7, 2012(2012-11-07) (aged 85)
Rochester, New York
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights79
Wins56
Wins by KO27
Losses16
Draws7

Carmen Basilio (born Carmine Basilio, April 2, 1927 – 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.[1][2] 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.

In 1957, The Ring magazine named Basilio Fighter of the Year, while the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) named him Fighter of the Year in 1955 and 1957. He also holds the distinction of being in The Ring magazine's Fight of the Year in five consecutive years (1955-59), a feat unmatched by any other boxer. In 2002, Basilio was voted by The Ring magazine as the 40th greatest fighter of the last 80 years.[3] He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 1990.[4]

Boxing career[edit]

Journeyman[edit]

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[edit]

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.

World Champion[edit]

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",[5] 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."[6] 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.

Decline[edit]

Basilio against Robinson in 1958
Basilio testifies to U.S. Senate about mafia in 1960

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.[citation needed] 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.

Post-boxing life[edit]

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.[7] 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 Basilio.[8]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
79 fights 56 wins 16 losses
By knockout 27 2
By decision 29 14
Draws 7
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
79 Loss 56–16–7 Paul Pender UD 15 Apr 22, 1961 Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. For NYSAC and The Ring middleweight titles
78 Win 56–15–7 Don Jordan UD 10 Mar 11, 1961 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
77 Win 55–15–7 Gaspar Ortega UD 10 Jan 7, 1961 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
76 Loss 54–15–7 Gene Fullmer TKO 12 (15) Jun 29, 1960 Derks Field, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. For NBA middleweight title
75 Loss 54–14–7 Gene Fullmer TKO 14 (15) Aug 28, 1959 Cow Palace, Daly City, California, U.S. For vacant NBA middleweight title
74 Win 54–13–7 Arley Seifer TKO 3 (10) Apr 1, 1959 Bell Auditorium, Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
73 Win 53–13–7 Art Aragon TKO 8 (10) Sep 5, 1958 Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
72 Loss 52–13–7 Sugar Ray Robinson SD 15 Mar 25, 1958 Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Lost NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring middleweight titles
71 Win 52–12–7 Sugar Ray Robinson SD 15 Sep 23, 1957 Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York, U.S. Won NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring middleweight titles
70 Win 51–12–7 Harold Jones TKO 4 (10) May 16, 1957 Auditorium, Portland, Oregon, U.S.
69 Win 50–12–7 Johnny Saxton TKO 2 (15) Feb 22, 1957 Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Retained NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
68 Win 49–12–7 Johnny Saxton TKO 9 (15) Sep 12, 1956 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S. Won NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
67 Loss 48–12–7 Johnny Saxton UD 15 Mar 14, 1956 Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Lost NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
66 Win 48–11–7 Tony DeMarco TKO 12 (15) Nov 30, 1955 Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. Retained NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
65 Win 47–11–7 Gil Turner MD 10 Sep 7, 1955 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
64 Win 46–11–7 Italo Scortichini UD 10 Aug 10, 1955 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
63 Win 45–11–7 Tony DeMarco TKO 12 (15) Jun 10, 1955 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S. Won NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
62 Win 44–11–7 Peter Müller UD 10 Jan 21, 1955 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
61 Win 43–11–7 Ronnie Harper RTD 3 (10) Dec 16, 1954 Armory, Akron, Ohio, U.S.
60 Win 42–11–7 Allie Gronik UD 10 Oct 15, 1954 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
59 Win 41–11–7 Carmine Fiore UD 10 Sep 10, 1954 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
58 Win 40–11–7 Ronnie Harper TKO 2 (10) Aug 17, 1954 Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.
57 Win 39–11–7 Al Andrews UD 10 Jun 26, 1954 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
56 Win 38–11–7 Italo Scortichini UD 10 May 15, 1954 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
55 Win 37–11–7 Pierre Langlois UD 10 Apr 17, 1954 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
54 Draw 36–11–7 Italo Scortichini PTS 10 Jan 16, 1954 Dinner Key Auditorium, Coconut Grove, Florida, U.S.
53 Draw 36–11–6 Pierre Langlois PTS 10 Dec 19, 1953 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
52 Win 36–11–5 Johnny Cunningham KO 4 (10) Nov 28, 1953 Civic Auditorium, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
51 Loss 35–11–5 Kid Gavilan SD 15 Sep 18, 1953 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S. For NBA, NSYAC, and The Ring welterweight titles
50 Draw 35–10–5 Billy Graham PTS 12 Jul 25, 1953 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
49 Win 35–10–4 Billy Graham UD 12 Jun 6, 1953 Memorial Stadium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
48 Win 34–10–4 Carmine Fiore TKO 9 (10) Apr 11, 1953 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
47 Win 33–10–4 Vic Cardell UD 10 Feb 28, 1953 Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
46 Win 32–10–4 Ike Williams UD 10 Jan 12, 1953 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
45 Win 31–10–4 Chuck Foster TKO 5 (10) Nov 18, 1952 Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
44 Win 30–10–4 Sammy Giuliani KO 3 (10) Oct 20, 1952 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
43 Win 29–10–4 Baby Williams UD 10 Sep 22, 1952 Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
42 Loss 28–10–4 Billy Graham UD 10 Aug 20, 1952 Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
41 Loss 28–9–4 Chuck Davey UD 10 Jul 16, 1952 Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
40 Draw 28–8–4 Chuck Davey PTS 10 May 29, 1952 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
39 Win 28–8–3 Jackie O'Brien MD 10 Mar 31, 1952 South Main Street Armory, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
38 Win 27–8–3 Jimmy Cousins UD 8 Feb 28, 1952 Armory, Akron, Ohio, U.S.
37 Win 26–8–3 Emmett Norris UD 10 Feb 4, 1952 South Main Street Armory, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
36 Loss 25–8–3 Ross Virgo UD 10 Sep 26, 1951 Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
35 Win 25–7–3 Shamus McCray PTS 8 Sep 17, 1951 War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
34 Loss 24–7–3 Johnny Cesario UD 10 Jun 18, 1951 McConnell Field, Utica, New York, U.S.
33 Loss 24–6–3 Lester Felton UD 10 May 29, 1951 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
32 Win 24–5–3 Eddie Giosa UD 10 Apr 12, 1951 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
31 Win 23–5–3 Floro Hita PTS 8 Mar 9, 1951 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
30 Loss 22–5–3 Vic Cardell SD 10 Dec 15, 1950 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
29 Loss 22–4–3 Eddie Giosa PTS 10 Aug 28, 1950 Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
28 Win 22–3–3 Guillermo Gimenez RTD 8 (10) Jul 31, 1950 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
27 Win 21–3–3 Guillermo Gimenez RTD 7 (10) Jun 21, 1950 Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
26 Win 20–3–3 Gaby Ferland KO 1 (10) May 5, 1950 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
25 Draw 19–3–3 Gaby Ferland PTS 10 Apr 12, 1950 Coliseum Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
24 Loss 19–3–2 Mike Koballa UD 8 Mar 27, 1950 Eastern Parkway Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.
23 Win 19–2–2 Lew Jenkins MD 10 Mar 6, 1950 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
22 Win 18–2–2 Adrien Mourguiart TKO 7 (10) Feb 7, 1950 Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
21 Win 17–2–2 Cassell Tate MD 8 Jan 24, 1950 Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
20 Win 16–2–2 Sonny Jim Hampton UD 8 Jan 10, 1950 Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
19 Win 15–2–2 Johnny Parker RTD 2 (8) Sep 30, 1949 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
18 Win 14–2–2 Tony DiPelino UD 8 Sep 7, 1949 Red Wing Stadium, Rochester, New York, U.S.
17 Win 13–2–2 Johnny Cunningham PTS 8 Aug 17, 1949 MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
16 Loss 12–2–2 Johnny Cunningham SD 8 Aug 2, 1949 Bennett's Field, Utica, New York, U.S.
15 Win 12–1–2 Sammy Daniels UD 8 Jul 21, 1949 Bennett's Field, Utica, New York, U.S.
14 Win 11–1–2 Jesse Bradshaw TKO 2 (6) Jul 12, 1949 MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
13 Win 10–1–2 Johnny Cunningham KO 2 (6) Jun 7, 1949 MacArthur Stadium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
12 Win 9–1–2 Johnny Clemons KO 3 (6) May 18, 1949 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
11 Loss 8–1–2 Connie Thies PTS 6 May 2, 1949 Sports Arena, Rochester, New York, U.S.
10 Win 8–0–2 Elliot Throop KO 1 (6) Apr 20, 1949 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
9 Win 7–0–2 Jerry Drain TKO 3 (6) Mar 18, 1949 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
8 Win 6–0–2 Luke Jordan PTS 6 Feb 17, 1949 Sports Arena, Rochester, New York, U.S.
7 Win 5–0–2 Ernie Hall KO 2 (6) Jan 25, 1949 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
6 Draw 4–0–2 Jimmy Parlin PTS 6 Jan 19, 1949 Kalurah Temple, Binghamton, New York, U.S.
5 Draw 4–0–1 Johnny Cunningham PTS 6 Jan 5, 1949 Kalurah Temple, Binghamton, New York, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 Rolly Johns SD 6 Dec 15, 1948 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 Eddie Thomas KO 2 (6) Dec 8, 1948 Kalurah Temple, Binghamton, New York, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 Bruce Walters KO 1 (4) Nov 29, 1948 State Fair Coliseum, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 Jimmy Evans KO 3 (4) Nov 24, 1948 Kalurah Temple, Binghamton, New York, U.S.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Lineal Welterweight Champs". Cyber Boxing Zone. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Lineal Middleweight Boxing Champs". Cyber Boxing Zone.
  3. ^ Andrew Eisele. "Ring Magazine's 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years". About.com Sports.
  4. ^ Steve Schaefer (April 7, 1990) Boxing Hall of Fame names first inductees. United Press International
  5. ^ "BLINKY PALERMO, MOBSTER WHO RAN BOXING DIES!". Ring Talk. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  6. ^ Acevedo, Carlos. "STRANGE DAYS: The Johnny Saxton Story". The Cruelest Sport. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  7. ^ "Carmen Basilio Dies at 85; Took Title From Robinson" NYTimes November 7, 2012
  8. ^ John Rawling (November 9, 2012). "Carmen Basilio obituary | Sport". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "Honorees". Cauliflower Alley Club. Retrieved September 27, 2020.

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by World Welterweight Champion
June 10, 1955 – March 14, 1956
Succeeded by
Preceded by World Welterweight Champion
September 12, 1956 – September 23, 1957
Vacates
Succeeded by
Preceded by World Middleweight Champion
September 23, 1957 – March 25, 1958
Succeeded by