Lou Ambers

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Lou Ambers
Ambers in boxing pose
Real nameLuigi Giuseppe d'Ambrosio
Nickname(s)The Herkimer Hurricane
Height5 ft 4 12 in (1.64 m)
Reach70 in (178 cm)
Nationality United States
Born(1913-11-08)November 8, 1913
Herkimer, New York
DiedApril 25, 1995(1995-04-25) (aged 81)[1]
A few sources cite April 24
Phoenix, Arizona
Boxing record
Total fights102
Wins by KO29
No contests0

Luigi Giuseppe d'Ambrosio (November 8, 1913 – April 25, 1995), a.k.a. Lou Ambers, was a World Lightweight boxing champion who fought from 1932 to 1941.[2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Born Luigi Giuseppe d'Ambrosio on November 8, 1913 in Herkimer (village), New York, Ambers started out in a large Italian family, struggling to find an identity. Luigi took a ring name because he was afraid his Italian mother would find out that he was a fighter.

He defeated future world junior welterweight champion Johnny Jadick in a ten round unanimous decision on March 19, 1934, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.[2]

Ambers defeated former world junior welterweight claimant Sammy Fuller on March 1, 1935 in a fifteen round unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden. Before a crowd of 10,000, Ambers was stunned by a left from Fuller in the third round, but had his way with his opponent much of the remainder of the bout, taking an impressive thirteen of fifteen rounds.[4][5]

Managed by Al Weill and trained by Charley Goldman, the "Herkimer Hurricane", began his career losing only once in more than three years. He faced his greatest competitor, future hall of fame lightweight champion Tony Canzoneri on May 10, 1935. Canzoneri defeated him over 15 rounds on a decision in Madison Square Garden, robbing Ambers of his first shot at the title. Canzoneri had Ambers down twice in round three. A faithful crowd of 17,433 cheered as Canzoneri easily retook the title, knocking Ambers down again shortly before the closing bell.[6][3]

Ambers did not let the defeat discourage him, winning his next 15 fights.[2]

In one of his most difficult matches, Ambers defeated Fritzie Zivic on July 1, 1935, in a ten round unanimous decision in Millvale, Pennsylvania. Ambers took the lead in the opening rounds, and had enough of a points margin to take the decision, but in the last two rounds he retreated often, his jaw being broken in the ninth by what appeared to be a right to the chin. Zivic opened up with a right handed attack in the ninth and tenth that was simply not adequate to overcome the large points margin opened by his opponent. Ambers was examined by a local hospital after the bout and released.[7][8][9]

Before a crowd of 8,266, Ambers defeated the highly rated former junior lightweight champion Frankie Klick in a ten round points decision at Madison Square Garden on January 3, 1936. Returning after his broken jaw only six months earlier, Ambers took some stiff shots to the chin in the sixth and seventh, but gained a significant points margin, winning eight of the ten rounds. In the seventh, Ambers put Klick to the canvas for a nine count as they broke from a clinch. Ambers gained a points advantage quickly and his speed in the early rounds tired Klick, who was sapped of energy for a strong finish in the closing rounds. The win improved Ambers' chances of getting a second shot at Canzoneri for the title.[10] [11][12]

Winning the lightweight championship, September 1936[edit]

Tony Canzoneri

He gained revenge when he captured the lightweight championship by decisioning Tony Canzoneri in 15 rounds on September 3, 1936. As a former sparring partner of Canzoneri, he carried the fight to his opponent and mentor from the outset, turned back two spirited rallies, and won by a wide margin in a match that defined him as a boxer and competitor. Adding an exclamation point, the Associated Press gave Ambers nine rounds, including the last three.[13]

Ambers won a lightweight title bout against Pedro Montanez on September 23, 1937, before an exceptional crowd of around 32,000, in a fifteen round mixed decision at New York's Polo Grounds. Though the referee voted for a draw, both judges scored the close bout in Amber's favor, with each voting he had won eight rounds.[2] The Associated Press gave Ambers a generous twelve rounds, with only one, the thirteenth, to Montanez.[14]

Jimmy Garrison lost to Ambers in a ten round points decision of a non-title bout in Kansas City on May 11, 1938. The United Press gave seven rounds to Ambers with only three to Garrison.[15]

Loss of title to Henry Armstrong, August, 1938[edit]

On August 17, 1938 Ambers met Henry Armstrong in an historic fight for the world lightweight title. Armstrong was attempting to become the first fighter in history to win and hold three world titles simultaneously. In a great fight, Ambers was knocked down twice, in the fifth and sixth rounds, and appeared badly beaten. Ambers mounted a great comeback in the later half of the match, but lost the controversial split decision. Armstrong was penalized three rounds in the close bout for fouls. [2][16] Ambers lost the title for a year, until regaining it in a rematch one year later.

Frankie Wallace was one of Ambers' most frequent opponents. Wallace fell to Ambers for the last time when he could not return to the ring for the sixth round on December 5, 1938, in Cleveland. In a previous fight in the same city on December 6, 1937, Ambers won in a ten round unanimous decision on a large boxing ticket that featured a crowd of 12,000. With a rapid left and effective right uppercut, Ambers gained a strong points margin, and had an ailing Wallace missing throughout the bout.[17]. In their first meeting on April 27, 1933 in Utica, New York, Ambers took a six round points decision.

In their last meeting, Ambers achieved an eleventh round technical knockout of "Baby" Arizmendi on February 24, 1939 at New York's Madison Square Garden. In a close bout that the Brooklyn Daily Eagle scored five rounds to Arizmendi and four to Ambers, the referee stopped the bout in the eleventh due to a gash on his opponent's right eyelid received in the ninth which made it difficult for him to continue. The cut was opened again in the tenth with left uppercuts and examined by a Doctor at the end of the round, who ordered the referee to end the bout, which was officially called at the opening of the eleventh. It was the only knockout of Arizmendi's career.[18]

Regaining lightweight title from Armstrong, August, 1939[edit]

Henry Armstrong

Ambers' rematch with Henry Armstrong was as controversial as their first bout. Armstrong was penalized for low blows, which enabled Ambers to capture the 15-round decision on August 22, 1939 before a crowd estimated at 30,000. Penalized for low blows in the second, fifth, seventh, ninth, and eleventh rounds, Armstrong would have probably won the fight had it not been for his loss of points for fouls.[2] James Dawson of The New York Times wrote that "The title was not won on competition alone but on fighting rules and ethics...Armstrong was the victim of an injustice". Demonstrating the closeness of the fight before accounting for Armstrong's fouls, the United Press scored the fight seven rounds for Ambers, with six for Armstrong, and two even. Unlike their first meeting, Ambers remained on his feet throughout the bout, except for a single slip in one round. He used infighting consistently in the match, cutting and bruising Armstrong's face. Many boxing reporters considered the match Ambers' last great performance.[19]

Loss of world lightweight championship to Lou Jenkins, May, 1940[edit]

On May 10, 1940, Ambers defended his title against the wild, free swinging, Lew Jenkins. Jenkins scored an upset when he knocked out the defending champion in the third round at Madison Square Garden. Ambers was down for a count of five in the first and briefly in the second. He had to arise from another fall to the canvas at least once prior to the referee stopping the bout 1:29 into the third.[20]

Ambers sought a rematch, and after a tune up win over Al "Bummy" Davis, he again faced Jenkins. This time he suffered a technical knockout from Jenkins in the seventh round before 15,000 on February 28, 1941, at Madison Square Garden.[2] After a slow start, Ambers appeared game, taking tough blows from Jenkins in the third through the sixth, while still using his left effectively at times. But in the seventh, Ambers was floored three times before the referee put an end to the fight, 2:26 into the seventh.[21]

Life outside of boxing[edit]

Crypt of Ambers and his wife Margaret

After his last bout, Ambers wanted to continue with his career, but his manager, Al Weill, convinced him that he was through, and to retire. Ambers never fought again.

Before his boxing retirement, he appeared as himself in a small role in MGM's The Crowd Roars (1938), a successful boxing movie starring Robert Taylor. [22]

After his retirement from boxing, Ambers served in the Coast Guard in WWII. He later operated a restaurant, and worked in public relations. He died on April 25, 1995 in Phoenix, Arizona,[3] and was interred at the Saint Francis Cemetery in Phoenix.[23] He and his wife Margaret Mary had a daughter and two sons.[24]


  1. ^ "Louis D'Ambrosio, 82, Champion Boxer in 30's", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 68, 26 April 1995
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Lou Ambers Boxing Record". BoxRec. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Lou Ambers Boxing Record, Cyber Boxing Zone". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  4. ^ Hughes, Ed, "Ed Hughes Column", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, pg. 15, 2 March 1935
  5. ^ Crowd of 10,000 in Cuddy, Jack, "Lou Forces Rough Bout from Start", Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pg. 14, 2 March 1935
  6. ^ "Makes Fighting History in Championship Bout Outpointing Lou Ambers", Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, pg. 14, 11 May 1935
  7. ^ "Lou Ambers Wins From Fritz Zivic", Star-Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota, pg. 21, 2 July 1935
  8. ^ Broke his jaw in "Lew Ambers Defeats Zivic In Fast Bout", The Daily Republican, pg. 6, 2 July 1935
  9. ^ "Lou Ambler(sic) Wins Decision", The Indiana Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania, pg. 6, 2 July 1935
  10. ^ "Lou Ambers Back on Canzoneri Trail", Marshfield News Herald, Marshfield, Wisconsin, pg. 8, 4 January 1936
  11. ^ "Ambers Beats Klick to Get Title Chance", The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, New York, pg. 11, 4 January 1936
  12. ^ Kenney, George, Daily News, New York, New York, pg. 246, 4 January 1936
  13. ^ Gould, Allan, "Tony Canzoneri Battered Hard in Fifteen Rounds", The Mercury, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, pg. 18, 4 September 1936
  14. ^ "Technical K.O. Gives Apostoli Win Over Til", The Post-Star, Glen Falls, New York, pg. 9, 24 September 1937
  15. ^ Seven to Ambers in "Ambers Decisions Jimmy Garrison", Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wisconsin, pg. 21, 12 May 1938
  16. ^ Runyon, Damon, "Wins Third Crown in Bristling Bout", Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 23, 18 August 1938
  17. ^ "Frankie Wallace, Lou Ambers, Gain Victory at Show", The Evening Review, East Liverpool, Ohio, pg. 11, 7 December 1937
  18. ^ Conrad, Harold, "Lou No Riot As He Stops Mexican Baby", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, pg. 11, 25 February 1939
  19. ^ "Low Blows Cost Henry Five Rounds", Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pg. 25, 23 August 1939
  20. ^ McLemore, Henry, "Lou Ambers Loser But Still Champion", Santa Ana Register, pg. 6, 11 May 1940
  21. ^ "Lou Ambers Game in Losing Final Battle to Jenkins", The Kingston Daily Freeman, Kingston, New York, pg. 12, 1 March 1941
  22. ^ "Lou Ambers, IMDB Bio". imdb. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  23. ^ Matt Ward History Experience
  24. ^ "Louis D'Ambrosio, 82, Champion Boxer in 30's", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 68, 26 April 1995

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tony Canzoneri
The Ring Lightweight Champion
September 3, 1936 – August 17, 1938
Succeeded by
Henry Armstrong
World Lightweight Champion
September 3, 1936 – August 17, 1938
Preceded by
Henry Armstrong
The Ring Lightweight Champion
August 22, 1939 – May 10, 1940
Succeeded by
Lew Jenkins
World Lightweight Champion
August 22, 1939 – May 10, 1940