Wednesday, November 07, 2012

RIP Carmen Basilio!

Boxing has lost another legend.  "The Upstate Onion Farmer" Carmen Basilio has passed away at the age of 85.

Basilio was one of the hardest and most exciting boxers in the history of the sport.  From 1948-1960, the native of Canastota, NY fought truly some of the greats of the game.  Basilio may have been best known for his duo of bouts against Sugar Ray Robinson.  Basilio won the middleweight championship against Robinson on September 23, 1957 in Yankee Stadium in New York City by 15-round split decision.  Robinson won the rematch in Chicago Stadium in Chicago, IL by another 15-round split decision on March 25, 1958.

To give an idea of how exciting Basilio was, Ring Magazine chose a Basilio bout the Fight of the Year four consecutive years from 1955-1958!  Basilio's12th round TKO victory over Tony DeMarco to win the welterweight title won the award in 1955, his 9th round TKO title defense over Johnny Saxton in September of 1956 took the award that year and the two bouts against Robinson were Ring's choices in 1957 and 1958.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota started as a tribute to Basilio and he made frequent appearances there.  Basilio was also a regular visitor to DC and attended the early years of the Fight Night charity boxing event.

In my first year of attending Fight Night in 1995, I had the honor of interviewing Basilio for my TV show Boxing Spotlight and to say he was gracious and a joy to interview would be an understatement.  Basilio was still one of my most favorite people to interview in my career.  A wonderful man indeed.  My condolences to his family.

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